Impostor Syndrome | Being proud of being femme
In conjunction with the release of my episode of the Becoming Fearless Style Collective Podcast, I’m talking about Impostor Syndrome and how it applies to being femme.
Impostor Syndrome is the inability to acknowledge one’s accomplishments without a fear of being exposed as a “fraud” of sorts. So often within our lives, we get conflicting messages from different communities and, as a femme, this can be incredibly damaging.
For me, this came as not recognising my own identity until I was in my 20s. I’m going to share my full coming out story on National Coming Out Day, Wednesday October 11th. Make sure you’re subscribed so you can be the first to see that content. But I’ve always been the type to second guess everything I do. From this blog to librarianship, and even theatre, something I have loved and studied extensively for years. I never believe that I’m actually as accomplished as I am, or that people say I am. And so I hide from those accomplishments. In the same way I hid from my identity for far too long.
“You’re too pretty to be queer” – Being Femme in Straight Spaces
Coming out in straight spaces is always nerve wracking no matter how you identify. There’s fear of so many different scenarios. Add to that being femme and the risk of being told you’re “too pretty” to be gay? Well, it’s no wonder we’re invisible. More often than not, femmes hide their pride in who they are to avoid toxic statements like this. The privilege of “straight passing” can be something we hide in. If we pass as straight, we can just let everyone assume we are as such and we do not have to acknowledge part of our identity.
“You’re not queer enough” – Being Femme in Queer Spaces
Okay, I get it. I’m not butch. I love makeup and dresses and high heels and doing my hair and all of those amazing things. But what does that have to do with who I am attracted to? These statements, or body language that conveys the same thing, can cause us femmes to second guess everything. The fear that we will be exposed as a “fraud”? That comes from exactly this. Maybe I’m not queer enough. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. Maybe I shouldn’t share my voice in the community because, since I can pass as straight, I don’t know what it’s like to deal with the daily onslaught of discrimination.
For femmes – What do we do?
Fellow femmes, you deserve to have a voice! You deserve to speak out and share your story and be your authentic self. Keep an eye out next week for a whole post on being your authentic self, despite all of the pushback we deal with on a day to day basis. No, we don’t have to deal with as much discrimination as folks who “present” a more stereotypically queer face. But we should not hide from our identities. Who we are, and the things we do with that, are parts of ourselves that we should be proud of. Share your story. Speak up for the LGBT community. Lend your voice. Get out there and show the world that you’re here, you’re queer, and you’re taking none of the bullshit.
One amazing way to share your story is through the Fashionably Femme feature on this blog. Reach out through the contact form on the Fashionably Femme page and let’s get your story shared!
For others – What can you do?
It should go without saying, but don’t assume anyone’s identity based on how they dress or how they present themselves. You never know what someone’s story is unless they tell you. Just look at my wife and I. I’m super femme. She has her femme days and her masc days but doesn’t identify strongly as either. I am very much a lesbian. She is bisexual. We’re in a same sex relationship but that does not mean an outsider can interpret our stories and identities. In the same way that a heterosexual couple might involve people who, in fact, do not identify as heterosexual. Don’t assume. At the risk of sounding horribly cliche, it really does make an ass of you and me. But mostly you.
Looking for more resources? Here are some of my faves:
- Being Queer and Femme Means Having to Constantly Come Out by Sophie Saint Thomas (Cosmo, 2017).
- Femme Invisibility by Megan Evens of What Wegan Did Next (HuffPost, 2012).
- How to Date a Woman When You’re an Invisible Femme by Abigale Pertichore (ThoughtCatalog, 2013).
- My Life as an Invisible Queer by Lindsay King-Miller (Cosmo, 2014).