Freaky Queer Joy
Final pictures will be uploaded in March 2021!
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We all have gorgeous bodies, but as trans and gender non-conforming (tgnc) folx, our worlds have at some point told us our bodies don’t match who we know ourselves to be. We have to navigate our world’s dominant conceptions so much more meticulously than cis people, and that’s just to present ourselves in a way that allows us to ‘be seen as’ our selves and ‘feel like’ our selves. As a result, self presentation is a common queer coping mechanism. Playing dress-up is so much more than just playing dress-up. As helpful coping mechanisms do, the way we show our bodies can adapt as our comfortability and relationships with dominant conceptions change.
Dominant conceptions of sexual attractiveness are heavily gendered, and in cis-centeric, binary ways. A particularly difficult challenge for some tgnc folx is finding clothes that are not only gender-affirming but also sexy. Even once we figure out what sort of clothes are healing for us (at whatever point in our journey we are), they often don’t make some of us feel hot!
In fact, we're often seen as monsters! But that abnormality is powerful, and sometimes we can feel hot while also feeling like a powerful monster.
I've been zooming with tgnc folx of color, to discuss their self presentation and experience with their body. We talk about what makes them comfortable; what they want to be comfortable with; if they’ve been healing; and how so. We also talk about what makes them feel sexually attractive; how they like to show their body; and when they feel like that hot monster. I work with them over a period of sessions to create healing garments that allow them to present themselves in ways that (1) reaffirm who they know themselves to be and (2) play a role in their coping by gently pushing their comfort only in ways that they want to. At the same time as this healing, (3) the garments make them feel like a powerful, sexually attractive monster!
I’ve called this collection Nimbooda: Freaky Queer Joy because when I was little, I would dress up in ways that made feel like those sexy femme fatales in 90s/2000s bollywood movies. I wouldn't stop dancing to the song Nimbooda. These moments of feeling sexy and powerful were always in gender affirming ways! I still experience a childlike joy when I find a look that makes me feel hot and also like myself; these looks make my monstrous, queer abnormality feel hot. This is a joy that only trans and gender nonconforming folks can know. And it is a joy that we all deserve to know…
I just want to make my tgnc/poc siblings feel that joy. And that powerful beauty. And that affirmation.
initial example garment:
I'm channeling both of these narratives by having my virtual self emerge from a dull, oppressive cape and a sea of uniform, dull cloth beings. My virtual self, here, emerges with a sexy, queer, impossible outfit... something directly inspired by the costumes in Nimbooda... something that I wish I could wear and be perceived wearing irl. Some of the impossibility is achieved by making invisible garments and sewing the visible outfit to those invisible garments.
When I was young, I loved bright teal and green and blue and pink, especially all together, but this was during a rise in popularity muted colors... That felt so dull and empty to me as a queer little kid who just wanted to play dress up every day. Nimbooda is how I refer back to my bright, queer, childlike joy.
initial collage & colors:
virtual garments on avatars of models