Partly because…

Someone wrote…

I want to be more thin and lean partly because I want to appear more androgynous. But it’s fucked up that I associate thinness with androgyny.

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on August 20th, 2010 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 52 comments »

52 Responses to “Partly because…”

  1. Gabe

    I do the same thing, and I feel so fucked up about it. When I start looking at androgynous styles, I look at my body and think “I can’t do that. I’ll look ridiculous with this beer belly sitting here.” I think that androgynous ideals are so often displayed by a certain conventionally attractive model type, that we start associating the androgyny itself with that look and have a hard time imagining our own androgynies.


  2. Janus

    That was a huge motivator for the eating disorder I struggled with (and still struggle with) years ago. It is fucked up. And it’s dangerous. And it’s sad.


  3. Simon

    Yeah I get this. It sucks. I think part of it is that if you have body fat then it establishes itself in an either male or female pattern (that you don’t want) and then it’s like, well, shit what do i do now? but striving for unhealthy thinness and/or hating one’s body fat because one wants a non-gendered body is so fucked up.

    basically, i don’t know how to deal with this either ):


  4. Me

    I came here to say what Simon said. I feel weird about this too. Body fat does tend to distribute in such a way that’s sexed by society. And I would rather be “overweight” than “underweight”, but when I picture my ideal self in my head, my body is very thin and androgynous, not the impossible hourglass I have.


  5. Len

    If you don’t like the fat, work out and let it burn. Some professional athletes are very thin, but their results on various competitions look healthier than being anorexic. If you’re afraid of building too much muscle and thus getting too masculine, don’t worry – I’m sure there are ways to avoid that, like sticking to the right exercises. I have yet to find out which exactly, though…


    LuLu replied:

    I work with eating disorders and unfortunately many anorexics, bulemics, and those with undefined EDs also have exercise compulsion in a very unhealthy way. I was shocked when I first began working with EDs because many of the clients looked “normal” according to our cultural beauty standards. The diseases are mental and affect the physical. Careful about just prescribing exercise.

    I am a queer woman that generally identifies as Femme. I have difficulty knowing how to find an outer expression of my androgynous and butch sides because of my body shape. Not much will hide my 38DDs and my curv hips and pear shaped body! And even in our queer cultures there is so much disdain when a person doesn’t fit the fashionable opinion of androgyny.

    It’s complicated.


  6. Elle

    Think of it as a sort of backhanded validation of androgynous gender identity by the fashion/entertainment industry. We’re bombarded every day with unrealistic depictions of “ideal” feminine and masculine bodies, why not androgynes too?


  7. jean c.

    in response to “work out & let it burn” — it doesn’t happen that way for lots of people. for some, it’s because of physical or health issues that are completely out of their control. for many trans & genderqueer people, the hormones in our bodies, while possibly “normal” or “healthy” by certain standards, don’t allow us to have the physical shape we want, even with a ton of working out.

    also, exercising takes time & time takes money — professional athletes are “professionals” because they make their livings partly by staying in top physical shape; they have a financial payoff for spending a large part of their day in physical training. many of us literally can’t afford to take the time or energy to do that…

    I don’t know a good solution to the OP’s troubled query — and I share some of the same preoccupations — but nobody should blame themself for “not working out hard enough” as the reason their body isn’t ‘perfect’.


  8. Len

    @ jean c. – My point was not that we should strive to be perfectly fit like some top athlete. It was that getting fitter to lose at least some of the unwanted fat which makes one appear too feminine/masculine is a far better solution than starving oneself to the bones.


  9. Anonymous

    …Maybe this is not helpful at all, but when I think of androgyny and fatness, my mind wanders to androgynous gods/goddesses. Not like one has to have a religious conversion or anything, but associating largeness and androgyny with spirituality and the divine puts a positive glow on it for me. I think eastern mythos and religions tend to fit better with this concept… kind of makes me focus more on being what one is, as opposed to scrambling around trying to do things to become something else. Okay, enough with the philosophical rambling…


  10. A

    God, this is EXACTLY the sentiment I’ve expressed to my best friend over and over. I look at every female-bodied androgyne that I want to be like, and they’re all thin, scrawny hipsters. I have curves, and I can’t get rid of them. There are no role models I can look at to model myself after, because they are all a shape I can’t achieve. ):


  11. Billie

    Same, same, same! I want to have lines, not curves, and the only way I know how to do so is to be thin. I am pretty successful with the overweightness I have now, but you can still see my feminine profile. Nothing but a diet will tame this booty into men’s pants.


  12. Milo

    Yeah, it’s actually not really fair. I know that as a guy, it’s hard because I do value being in shape simply because I care about my body, but I also don’t want to build up muscle. My shoulders are already more than broad enough at that. It’s tough, but I’ve finally gotten the thin shape that I want and managed to keep off too much upper body muscle.

    But yes, it is a bit sad and unrealistic to portray most androgynes as being perfectly slim. Some of us may be able to achieve it, but me, for example, have a pretty masculine face that gives me away fairly quickly. That idyllic model does at times seem sadly unattainable :(


  13. Lex

    I think this is because when we think ‘thin’ we think of less feminine curves. Also because androgynous celebrities like David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Jeffree Star, Jaye Davidson, Grace Jones etc, are all very thin.
    Thinness also seems (in our eyes) to look good in both masculine and feminine clothing. Thin females (often) have smaller breasts that are easier to bind or hide and therefor it is easier for them to pass as either gender. So I think it’s a matter of visual influence, if you know what I mean. But being too thin, especially when you arent naturally super thin, is unhealthy and can look weird as well. Muscular, however, can also go either ways, much like thinness.

    It’s better to be and look healthy and use your hair/voice/clothes/mannerisms to pass as androgynous than it is to be super skinny and unhealthy. I am not a thin person, and yet I often get mistaken for a gay man or people call me genderless pronouns or ‘they’ without thinking about it really. So there are other ways to pass than being thin.


  14. kendall

    I’ve always felt that as an adolescent girl that wore husky boy jeans, fat and butch are almost interchangable, its sad that even though I’m 6ft tall, almost 6’3 in docs, I have curves that give me away, and I’ve often thought about starving myself shapeless but it never lasts for more than a meal or two, I just think its sad that my mind [as influenced by society] still thinks because I’m fat I’m still read as dyke, if I were thin I’d always read as boi


  15. DD

    I can relate to that. I have an eating disorder and it’s really sucking the life out of me at times. Whenever I put on a pound I can see the fat going on my hips and boobs and arse, and if I put on more weight my period comes back, and it all screams to me “You’re a woman!”
    But I don’t want to be one. I don’t feel like a man either.

    Gender issues and eating disorders aren’t a nice cocktail.


  16. Tiger

    Sob, this. I’m fat and I have hecka lady curves, but there is no mentally healthy way for me to focus on losing weight. I work out whenever I can and I eat pretty healthily, but as soon as I make it about losing weight it becomes torturous and disordered and self-punishing, and it’s a difficult thing for me to balance as it is.

    I got into fat acceptance a few years ago, which helped, but just recently I realised the reason I found accepting my fat so easy was that I didn’t have any fantasy of being a more conventionally attractive woman. I don’t want to be a conventionally attractive woman because I don’t want to be a woman at all. Now that I’ve realised that there IS something I want to be, I’m finding it suddenly a lot harder to keep myself away from just wishing I could be less fat.


  17. Anonymous

    I find it disturbing that someone’s androgeny is determined by their so called “fatness or thinness” I understand that curves define women blah blah blah, but what about the heavier men, are they more feminine? There are ways to hide curves if you have them, you just have to get creative. Some of the most adrogynous people I have had the honor to know where not thin. I wish there were other ways to see this.


  18. Anonymous

    Don’t beat yourself up for connecting the two: thinness, androgny, uber-thin models an’ stuff – it’s a very common image of androgny. But it’s not the only one. It’s a very narrow view of a whole wealth of looks and representations which are deliberately ambigous. or that don’t drop any hints regarding your sex/gender/whatevs.

    Weight doesn’t seem to hold awesome singer songwriter Anthony Hegarty back. He has the most gorgeously androgynous look, and he isn’t exactly what you’d call skinny. He describes himself as “voluptuos”.
    Look him up, he seems a nice guy. slash girl. whatevs. :)


  19. Anonymous

    hm… you get a lot of very andrognyous skinny models and rock stars (eg grace jones, bowie the thin white duke, etc) in the media and what not. it’s kind of a logical connection to make. i relate.

    but it’s a very a blandified sort of image that you get of androgyny… there are many more interesting shades of androgyny… it doesn’t have to be thin and young and mysterious and smoldering or whatever…

    …for me there’s something wonderfully radical about how androgyny is neither here nor there – i mean – y’know – a totally new thing. so why bother conforming? by admitting that you want to be androgynous, or more androgynous, you are already deciding not to conform with the however-many-people-in-the-world who identify as one or the other and – … sigh, i lost my thread…

    it’s like…it’s horrid to feel you’ve broken this boundary only to find this other boundary come rushing up to meet you. there’s always gonna be boundaries… obstacles… but why worry yourself with them… it’s like you’ve already passed one – that’s amazing!

    and y’know – thinking outside the box: being andrognyous and being thin are not the same thing. so much of it is down to how you compose yourself and behave, i think… or how you allow yourself to behave… so maybe… i dunno – cut yourself some slack and allow yourself not to worry over it? It’s not healthy to be absorbed over your image too much.



    that’s just my thoughts.

    ps. i find that, depending on your build etc, an oversized top, or a men’s shirt a few sizes too big can miles towards making you looking skinner and/or ambiguous. there are illusions which can come to your aid quicker and with less effort that loosing weight.


    Gabriel/Sam replied:

    I love this comment. Bravao, dahling.


  20. blahblah

    I once became fixated with building up some muscle over the summer holidays to try and get that toned, masculine silouette.

    but i’m very lazy and got distracted.

    (by food.)

    (and tv.)

    (and girls.)

    ( :D )


  21. Anonymous

    this is anthony hegarty looking exceptionally lovely.


  22. poy born

    Why is it “fucked up” that you associate thinness with androgyny? Girls with no fat (ergo no tits, no ass) look more like boys than girls with fat. Is that not the definition of androgyny? Listen, I really hate my hairy legs. But I was born a boy, so I have gross dark hair on my legs. I don’t walk around saying “God, I hate how all these girls (even ones that don’t shave) don’t have much hair on their legs! It’s so fucked up that I have to shave my legs to look more androgynous!” It’s the DEFINITION OF THE WORD.

    If you are comfortable with your weight, and comfortable with how fem it looks, then just be that weight, regardless of how “androgynous” it is. If you aren’t comfortable for either reason, change it. And if you can’t change it, you may have to just accept that your body may not instantly communicate every complexity that you have as a person.


  23. essejz

    I think it’s really interesting that there’s this distinction between “butch” and “boi”, where the latter is this desirable, androgynous ideal & the former is code for the stereotype of fat, manly lesbian or whatever. I don’t mean this for transfolks because I get the difficulties of passing when you’re curvy, but for people who identify as lesbians or queers or genderqueers I think there is this real societal pressure to meet the “boi” ideal. I guess it’s a result of having lesbian rolemodels in the media who look a certain way, but I also think it’s due to (unconscious) homophobia within the queer community. i.e. i’m more masculine, but i’m not BUTCH, i shave my legs, i’m androgynous = I am a good, fashionable lesbian, not this scary unattractive thing of yesteryear.

    by which i mean: sometimes I think it is more courageous to transcend gender norms when you DON’T have the super-thin androgynous body. that is transgressive & still taboo & sexy. So stay strong, people!


  24. poy born

    What’s “fucked up” is that people are more concerned with being in Androgyny Club than with being androgynous. What’s “fucked up” is that more people are interested in co-opting an identity than defining themselves.


  25. kendall

    @23 essejz
    That’s what I was saying,that if you’re thin you’re a hot andro boi that’ll turn the heads of the average straight cis femme and if you’re fat you’re a disgusting man hating dyke, it sucks. Cause there are fat bioguys but even then they’d carry their weight differently.

    And poyborn of course people can strive to lose weight through hardwork and exercise but some people do have a harder metabolism to work with, so I think its rather condescending to be like: you don’t like being fat? lose weight. Because if it was just that easy, people would, but also society shouldn’t force people to think that being thin is the only definition of beauty? then you turn around and say we’re just trying to please some label, when you’re contributing to the negative connotations with weight

    fuck the paradigm


  26. /\/\

    whats wrong with being a fat androgen?


  27. Anonymous

    In the words of Osgood:

    “Nobodies perfect.”


  28. kendall

    pssh yeah well, in the words of a hat on the simpsons “pobody’s nerfect”


  29. essejz

    @kendall: but doesnt that just give you tons more respect for fat, manhating dykes??


  30. kendall

    I’m big, I’ve dated bigger girls [some of whom, post-break up are now boys] I love my dad, he’s big. I don’t think you should gorge yourself until you’re immobile but I do think theoretically there are bigger sins than cupcakes, but starving yourself is just as bad on a different end of the spectrum. I just wish I read as chubby boy instead of obese girl. I’d be big regardless and I am at full peace with this, but I still know how others see me. I just wish people didn’t think I was gay because they think I think no cisman would find me attractive, when really I’m happiest dating women, my size has nothing to do with this.


  31. Emily

    Sheeesh… It’s an obvious statement to make, but: people get judged on appearance. We judge and we get judged. That’s just the way our brains seem to work. But… Maybe its wise right now to remind people that, (and it seems an almost embarrassingly obvious thing to say), taking people at face value is shallow. If you agree, i don’t think you should get yourself in a flap about loosing weight – no matter what gender variation you are.


  32. Anonymous

    A lot of it lies on how much you care what other people think of you and your appearance.
    Really it should be about you, your identity, and what you’re comfortable with.
    And how far you’re willing to go for an image or an idea which you attach you to that image.


  33. poy born

    @25, 26

    I never said larger people are unattractive, I’m not perpetuating a society-wide impulse to be unhealthily skinnier, I’m not saying you can’t be a fat androgyne (an androgen is a male sex hormone). And we’re not talking about any of those things. I’m saying that if you are a person who seeks to appear androgynous, which is a word that has a Webster definition, modifying your secondary sexual characteristics is something you may inevitably have to do. And if you can’t or won’t do that, then you may need to accept yourself as you are if you’d like to be happy, even though you might not fit into that trendy coffeeshop lesbian’s “androgynous” ideal. In short, if you are frustrated by attempting to appear androgynous TO OTHER PEOPLE, then take a cue from the motto of the state of North Carolina and start Being rather than Seeming. Because you can’t change other people.

    I’m fully aware that people suffer from metabolic and hormonal issues that make their weight difficult to control, and again, that has nothing to do with this. I have some hormonal issues myself that makes my sex really difficult to control – despite my best efforts, I keep having a guy’s body instead of a girl’s. I guess all fat people should just do what I did – spend years of their life terrified to admit their thin identity, then finally come out to their parents as a thin person, start wearing thin clothes in public, desperately try to convince a psychiatrist and an endocrinologist that they aren’t (too) crazy and aren’t lying just to get prescribed thin pills that, at best, can in a few years offer some minor cosmetic alterations. At which point you have to just accept that your shoulders may never look right to you, avoid certain dresses, and get on with your life as best you can.


  34. Nick

    Thank you for pointing out once again how sad it is that we think of thinness when we thing of androgyny.
    Asa it happens to be, we also think of young and white people.
    I wish we had more androgynous rolemodels that were none of those three things.


  35. Dru

    It is not that unusual that you associate thinness with androgyny.

    There is the matter of androgynous role models. And the images of androgynous people we often see.

    But there is the issue (at least from a female bodied perspective) that people talk of thin women looking like boys or having boyish figures. And of heavier women having curves and there are common phrases like “real women have curves.” Breast are made of fat, a good portion of what makes up curves is fat. (And women do usually have more body fat than men.) For a lot of female bodied people when they lose weight they do look more androgynous. (But at the same time I find people that tend to forget that female bodied people do carry their weight differently. I definitely know people far skinner than me who are far curvier than me.)

    Also from a male bodied perspective: slight/petite built male bodied people do have a closer to typically feminine body type than husky ones.


  36. Alex

    I temporarily have a androgynous figure. I was chubby before estrogen, then I gained more weight. My profile is fem but head on I look more male. It doesn’t really bother me, I love food :]


  37. A

    “I think it’s really interesting that there’s this distinction between “butch” and “boi”, where the latter is this desirable, androgynous ideal & the former is code for the stereotype of fat, manly lesbian or whatever. I don’t mean this for transfolks because I get the difficulties of passing when you’re curvy, but for people who identify as lesbians or queers or genderqueers I think there is this real societal pressure to meet the “boi” ideal.”

    The problem is that some queers and genderqueers don’t want to be read as “butch”. There’s nothing wrong with it as a style for those who like it, and the more power to those that do, but… I don’t know, I’d rather be read as an effete genderqueer boy than as a butch dyke. I love butch dykes, but I’m not one, and I don’t want looking like one to be my only option. It’s not even about being “fat”, per se — I’m an averagely-built biofem. I’m not fat, but I’m not scrawny like so many other genderqueer boys.

    I don’t know where I’m going with this. Augh. I just wish androgyny could be more transferrable, so that you didn’t have to be super-big or super-small in order to achieve it.


  38. S

    I have recently become okay with having curves. Because I am comfortable as a fuller-figured female-bodied person, it makes me feel like I must be cisgender and not genderqueer/trans. I have large breasts. I have hips. I have a round tummy. If I don’t want to change these things, if I like them, I associate that with being cisgender.

    I think I might be just associating thinness and androgyny. So maybe if I did not do that I would consider myself more androgynous than I do now?


  39. Sid

    I think the same things that apply when straight, cis women have obsessive fantasies of being thin, applies for all different situations.

    The media almost exclusively show us images of thin, white, able-bodied people, regardless of their gender presentation. That doesn’t mean you have to be thin, white, or able-bodied to be femme, butch, hetero, androgynous, or anything else. You’re not going to look like the models because you aren’t them. You’re going to look like YOU doing androgynous and that’s a) so much more interesting and b) so much more satisfying.

    Yes, it’s hard to fight the ubiquitous voices that reinforce the thin, white, able-bodied fantasy. And that sucks. But please, keep fighting. Keep fighting because it’s healthier than hating your body. Keep fighting because I’m here, a very short chubby butch girl with a very defined waist…still trying to make it work every day. Too short to be “butch” too chubby to be “boi”, too curvy for all of it. I keep looking for how other people have done it, and I make up the rest by trial and error.

    Try following (fat-positive, queer-positive) tumblrs and blogs that post pictures of androgynous people. And when you feel like you might have a handle on it, please submit a picture to Genderfork so we can share in your radical awesomeness.

    Most of us don’t look like the pictures the media show us. So let’s make our own pictures and remind each other that we’re all damn attractive when we feel good in our skins.


  40. kendall

    ” Too short to be “butch” too chubby to be “boi”, too curvy for all of it. ” heh to me that makes me think, if binary or point A and point B making a straight line is how we often look at things, queer is the curves, squiggles and the kinks but I don’t know :-p I’m tired.


  41. Anonymous

    For me its about how much shape it gives me. I have a total hourglass figure, and when i have more fat on my body I have a much curvier ass and hips than i do when i don’t have any fat on me. When I am fit and lean – or even just thinner, I am able to get a much more straight up and down figure. When I am even fitter, and not just thin, I can get an even more straight up and down figure by having strong abs and core muscles. I think it’s much easier to get an andrygynous look when you aren’t carrying fat. I guess it would be the same with people born into a male body – the tendency to hold fat around the stomach makes a person look much more male than androgynous.


  42. Teddy

    andro- male gyn- female

    androgyny-having both masculine and feminine characteristics.

    from this particular etymological standpoint you can see that androgyny does not mean lack of male or female characteristics, (i.e. lack of breasts/lack of musculature)but instead means a mixture of BOTH sets of qualities. so why not flaunt everything you’ve got? be proud of your manliness and love your womanliness.

    i know it’s not easy, because i’ve been through years of self-loathing and self-destruction for the purpose of annihilating every bodily representation of my chromosomal sex. (XX) i delayed menses and breast development for years until i was forced into intensive inpatient treatment for anorexia and had to gain enough body fat to be considered healthy enough to leave.

    since then i’ve struggled daily with the knowledge that because my mammary glands developed while i was in treatment, my breasts will never fully disappear no matter how much weight i lose, because they are made up of more than just fat. they are life-giving organs near to my heart.

    some days i feel extra manly so i bind and get all haberdashing. the next day i feel like a super effeminate boy so i bind but dress in a mix of mens and womens clothing. other days i feel like a big ol dyke, so i wear men’s clothes but don’t bind. i find that as long as i wear what i feel like in the moment, i can breathe easier, regardless of what is literally on my chest. i have muscles, i have curves. i am a boy and i am girly.

    what it comes down to is embracing your dynamic and multifaceted self instead of burning your body away in the name of androgyny.

    God is androgynous and that is beautiful.


    A replied:

    Amazingly well-said. Thank you.


  43. Maximillian

    That seems so strange to me, I’ve been actively trying to put on weight to offset my heavy breasts…


  44. Fenrir

    I have been thinking a lot on this lately. I think I’m actually fairly slim, but I do have the ass, thighs and breasts issue (E-cups are never gonna bind well). The only way I can see of getting rid of these secondary sex characteristics would be to deliberately go way underweight. Female-bodied people need 15-20% more body fat than males to remain functional, so it’s even more dangerous for us. In the end, I’ve decided I really can’t do it. Whatever issues I have, it’s just not worth it. My androgyny is in the way I perceive the world and relate to people, my appearance is secondary.


  45. Maximillian

    Re fenrir: I’m a FF cup and I bind down fully, don’t give up all hope. x


    Anonymous replied:

    What do you use, please??


    Maximillian replied:

    I use an underworks double front compression vest. Hope that helps.


  46. androfemme

    Glad I’m not the only one who is dealing with “androgyny=thin”. There needs to be more visible media of non-thin androgynous individuals.


  47. Magnus

    I’m a very curvy, squishy androgynous man (it doesn’t help that I’m a transman), and I’m constantly torn between wanting to be fit, and thin, and looking like all the androgynous male models, and on the other hand, loving my fluff, because it’s so fluffy and soft and it’s nice to feel like a plush toy. It causes me a lot of dysphoria.


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