When my mother awoke after my birth (somewhat dramatic emergency C-section type deal), to discover that her dream child was not her boy, but in fact a squealing pink baby girl with a big birthmark on her head - she cried with disappointment. My Dad however, was over the moon. He’d got the little girl he’d always dreamed of. My Mum had got the nightmare she’d hoped to avoid, and subsequently had to change my name to something other than Jonathan.
Whether it was immense disappointment, or hormones, my Mother’s postnatal depression found me bonding with our family dog much more than her, and that about sums up my relationships with humans for probably the rest of my life, and also my love for dogs. My mother had wanted so much more for her child’s life than the hand women were dealt, than the hand she was dealt. Yet here I was - a mini version of her - cheekbones and all. I must have terrified her.
But life goes on, and my Mum found ways to deal with me - she just pretended I was a Jonathan. I would get Tonka trucks for my birthdays - and boys clothes and even a unisex nickname to soften the blow of my femininity. My home haircuts were askew and gender neutral, disturbingly mullet-like, and our home was awash with sports commentary, big messy dogs and beer. I remember identifying as a tomboy for most of my childhood - and yet it was never really my choice, it was just how it was. And it did come at a price. The pretty girls in my class would make fun of me, and even though some of my friends were popular, pretty girls - the bullying I endured from them was cruel and relentless for the rest of my school days.
One of my first memories of craving my femininity was my 8th birthday. My Mum handmade a cute top and skirt which was pink and white candy striped, complete with shoulder pads. It was the most girly thing I had ever seen, and I fawned over that outfit. When I put it on for our family photos, I felt pretty and girly for the first time in my life, and I really fell in love with that feeling. I wasn’t a Jonathan, I was me - a girl - and finally it was being embraced. The next week, my Mum gave that outfit to my friend - one of the pretty girls who was mean to me. I was told that it didn’t suit me, and it was promptly replaced with more sports gear and a basketball cap. On trend, yes, but not for little girls.
Every year my Mum donated toys I didn’t play with to charities, which is quite an honourable thing to do. But, she also donated my favourite ones as well - to the boys that came in and out of my life. One year my friend's little brother received my most favourite toy - a panda, sneakily while I was away at sports practise. I was unable to get it back despite immense emotional protest, because taking a toy back off a small child would be cruel. I felt somehow maybe I hadn’t deserved them - that I wasn’t boyish enough for nice things. So long, Panda - I never forgot you. The resentment grew.
And I suppose, when I hit teenage years, things only got worse. As I was athletic and had shown promise in sports, I was pushed further into them, such was the controlling nature of our household. So I found myself playing male dominated sports at a competitive level, even though I hated them, - while also being that weird quirky kid who decided to cut all her hair off to be ‘edgy’. Which looks nice when you have the right features, but as a very tall, athletic, flat chested teenage girl - my situation only got worse. There wasn’t a person in my school who didn’t assume I was gay, a ‘dyke’ as they’d say, which would be fine - except I wasn’t.
My god did I lust after boys. But it always fell flat - because I WAS one of the boys. No-one ever looked at me that way, it was laughable to them to view me as girlfriend material - because it was me. I was a Jonathan to them. They’d come to me like one of their guy friends to brag about girls they’d hooked up with, who they fancied, who they were going to ask out. And it killed me - because a couple of them were the last faces I’d think of each night as I was going to sleep. I had so many crushes on people who viewed me as one of the boys, but crushes that were to remain just that.
I had a job during high school, so I had money to start to buy my own clothes. I was still a bit odd, regardless of influence - I would only shop at secondhand stores because I was pretty anti-materialism in those days - but I could start to buy things now with a girlier edge. One of my first big purchases was a pair of black pump platform shoes - they looked like they fell straight out of the 70s (perfect!) and were a definite girly purchase. However I was already nearly 6ft tall, so when I very proudly wore my 5inch platforms into the city one day, a group of boys threw their rubbish at me and remarked that I looked like a ‘tranny’. I was devastated - I threw them in the bin and bussed home in just my pantyhose and damp cheeks.
So, when a boy, for the very first time looked at me as a woman, and made me feel like a woman - I fell completely in love with him. It didn’t matter that he was abusive, that he was manipulative, and subsequently went on to stalk me for the next 10+ years…. because he was the first and only boy who saw me as a woman - and that meant more to me than anything else ever did. It wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t right, but I was suddenly addicted to that sensation of feeling feminine. And at that point, he was my only fix.
I have grown so much since then, but I’m still addicted to that feeling. I have gained weight since my younger years - I have developed small but wonderful boobs, and voluptuous, very feminine hips, complete with a big booty and soft thighs. And it’s a little odd to me, to carry weight in a world that says I shouldn’t, and feel guilty about it, but also to just love that when I see myself - I look distinctly feminine. I have such an unmistakably womanly body - that once I could only have dreamed of. I revel in buying dresses that accentuate the curves in my features, in all kinds of girly colours and prints. I don’t even own jeans. I now work in an industry that celebrates my femininity and I can get so lost in it - it feels just so nice to have these womanly parts of me celebrated - online and in the bedroom. When a man nuzzles his face in between my thighs, my big ass cheeks, and embraces and squeezes my curves - I can’t begin to tell you how validating that is for me as a woman. It’s such a rush for me to have the kind of men that once laughed at me and passed me over, to now be the same men who book me and worship the inches of my curves and who kiss and taste the very essence of my womanhood.
And as things come full circle, so also did my relationship with my Mother. A hard woman who I can’t claim to have loved during most of my life, but who in the last few years has learned to embrace the girl child that she had, the only child that she had, and has stepped up to be the person I always needed her to be. I can’t stress enough how healing it has been to mend a relationship that so dramatically altered who I am as a person, and how much I’ve been able to grow as I slowly learn the reasons why my mother is how she is, and when I see in her so much of me.
Sitting in my room right now is a cute knitted Panda - handmade for me by my mother to make up for the one that she gave away. It sits next to my ostentatious diamanté Bordello platforms that I put on now and again, to remind myself that I deserve this, that I deserve to feel beautiful. This is what it means to me to be a woman.