Being Girly Isn’t Punk Rock: How I Punched Gender Norms in the Face While Wearing a Shirt that Said “Boner.” [Part 0]

Just to give you some background, I was a big of a tomboy in high school. Actually, scratch that, I’ve always been a tomboy. I didn’t willingly wear a skirt until I was seventeen, and that was only because the print was a bunch of safety pins. Until then, my entire wardrobe consisted of two things: skinny jeans and band tshirts. The jeans I got from American Eagle, the tshirts I got from Hot Topic or shows. It was a simple way of getting dressed: select wash of jean (regular, dark, or black), select tshirt (whatever I was feeling that day), and, if it was chilly, select zip-up hoodie (purchased from Zumiez). It was an easy, happy existence.

Then, the summer before I went to college I realized something should probably change. I mean, I was going to be an adult now – I should probably dress like one. Plus, after a bad breakup at the end of my senior year, I was single again, and something told me the guys at Harvard wouldn’t find my Cute is What We Aim For splatter shirt as adorable as my ex did. So I filled my closet with cute dresses, non-Converse shoes, and accessories that I had once only scoffed at. And I had a very well-dressed first year.

Now it is summer again and rarely does anyone see me. I live off in my little writing hut and only emerge to go grocery shopping or order a spicy BLT from Subway. I’m not really motivated to wear the cute stuff, mostly because I don’t feel like getting them dirty and worn for no reason. So I’ve regressed to the few tshirts I had saved before my closet purge and have gone back to wearing my favorite jeans day in and day out. And it’s nice.

But I spent a lot of time thinking about how much effort I put into my appearance that first year. I honestly did most of it to impress people and for the most part it worked. What Not To Wear says dress to fit the job you want, not the job you have; I say dress to the caliber of person you want to spend your time with, not the stuff you keep getting stuck with. And after a year, all the guys I called to my yard seemed, well, nice. But none exactly my type.

My type? Scrawny musicians. That’s right, grown-up skirt-wearing Z loves the little punk rocker boys that are only a few blocks over at Berklee. It’s a problem. And I felt like maybe my classy attire was…well…driving them off.

Fast forward to last week, when I was brunching with my best friend. I was telling her that I had just purchased a tshirt that was purple and only read: BONER. I loved the thing and was excited to wear it around in that sort of screw-you way. She laughed and replied that it was literally a “ballsy” buy, and then listened as I rambled on a little about of course not being able to wear it around since it was a guy’s tshirt, and you know how flattering that can be on a woman’s body.

“Well hold up,” she said, “what if you like, paired it with a skirt or something? Or cut it into a tank top?” And next thing I know, she’s slamming me with wonderful suggestions about how to be feminine but rock the punk rock tops.

So it got me thinking, how can I style all my beautiful band tees into stuff that’ll look presentable and, well, hot? Behold, my future posts.

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