Vicki | Exploring Style as a Non-Traditional Femme
Welcome to Femme Features. Femme Features is a blog series featuring femmes from all nooks of the LGBTQIA community. These rocking folks are activists, educators, bosses, parents, entrepreneurs, and all sorts of amazing human beings. Join us as we explore femme identity as so much more than a label, but truly a way of life. You can check out all of our queer femme fashion, lifestyle, and activist profiles here.
Vicki and Dannie go way back. Like, back to college rocking our theatre majors together kind of way back. When I say I’m proud to know this amazing woman, I’m serious on so many levels. She graduated college, went on to Yale School of Drama, and is stage managing in NYC now. Talk about living the dream! I’m honored to feature Vicki among the femmes this blog has featured. And thrilled all of you can know her now, too.
Describe your brand of femme. What makes your femme unique?
We all have various memories from our childhoods; memories of our favorite toys, least favorite vegetable and what combination of sugary cereal and cartoon marathon made Saturday morning a tiny slice of paradise. I have all of those memories and often relive those Saturday mornings on Mondays, but oddly enough memories of clothing sticks out to me the most. I grew up in a strong family lead by empowered women-women of class and sass who dressed to the nines and taught me what it means to be a strong black woman, but that also came with an expectation.
The expectation was to fit into the mold of traditional femininity which for most of my life didn’t fit me. I was very much a tomboy then, and in many ways I still am. My brand of femme is definitely non-traditional; intertwining my tomboy sensibilities and newly discovered and embraced femininity. It took many years and a lot of self discovery to find the woman I am today.
As a plus sized woman it’s always been difficult to find clothing that not only fits, but that doesn’t make you look like you’re wearing a potato sack. For years I struggled to find clothing that I felt comfortable in, clothing that fit my constantly changing style and clothing that made me feel like myself, and then I put on a pantsuit for the first time and the rest as they say is history. My current style choices throw caution to the wind when it comes to bold and bright colors and patterns. I accessorize with earrings and necklaces, bow ties and suspenders. My brand of femme is all about fun, exploration and comfort!
If you could share one thing about being femme, something you wish non-femmes knew, what would it be?
One thing I wish was more widely accepted and discussed amongst women both in and out of the femme community is that everyone’s definition and presentation of what they feel makes them femme won’t always fit into previously prescribed boxes, and that’s okay. I often struggled with the idea that in order to be viewed as a femme woman I had to be impeccably dressed at all times with a full face of make up and beautifully manicured nails to boot, and for a very long time I tried to meet those standards in High School and it often made me feel like I was trying to fit into a mold that wasn’t made for me. Flash forward to my 29 year old self and I am here to say that you can in fact be fabulously femme while rocking Timberland boots, a snapback and beautiful red matte red lipstick.
How do you use your style to express your femme? Are there any people who inspire your style?
As I’ve gotten older, and continue to find and embrace the multiple layers of myself of course my style has changed along the way. In many ways my style has gotten more eclectic in the pieces I now choose to wear. I no longer shy away from skirts and dresses (I used to run from those like the plague). I’ve come to embrace the joy that only comes from the feeling you get when wearing a really simple and beautiful sundress and the suave swagger I get from wearing a well made suit and tie. The duality of being a woman is a beautiful thing and I think my style doesn’t shy away from embracing all sides of my womanhood. I have some style inspirations, one of which is my mother; this woman can put together a full outfit like no body business. She raised me to always be well put together and feel confident in whatever I’m wearing because you are a queen in whatever you wear. My most recent style inspiration is an up and coming MC out of Philly named Miriam Hyman aka Robyn Hood; let me tell you, home girl is FLY! She’s got serious swag, and her style is so effortless and she again floats between traditional femme, and a more tomboy vibe and I love that.
As you have come into your own, has your style changed? How?
Over the years my style has changed several times, from high femme in high school to very butch in undergrad to finally finding the femme goddess of today. The biggest thing about my overall style that has been the most revolutionary change for me was stripping away my ideology about my hair and how it changed my identity. From the age of 11 to 22 I had stick straight relaxed hair that was the “acceptable” presentation of black hair. I didn’t feel feminine when my curls would slowly start to peek out at my roots and I’d run to the salon every 3 weeks for another slathering of “creamy crack” as we call it and straighten my hair. There is no shame to those black women who permed there hair then, now or in the future, but I was constantly praised for how long my hair was and how beautiful it was or how beautiful it made me and I should never cut it off because women wish they had as much hair as I did. I loved my hair, but I started to internalize the idea that if I cut my hair or stopped straightening it I would no longer be beautiful and I wasn’t okay with that.
The first step to changing my relationship with my hair was going natural, and embracing my afro which I fell in LOVE with. Learning how to tend to my crown the way it was intended to grow freely from my scalp was extremely emotional and empowering.
The second step, was finally getting up the courage to shave my hair into a mohawk. It was the most terrifying moment in my personal growth because what if they were right? What if after I cut my hair, I wasn’t beautiful anymore? As the hair fell from my head and I saw the new woman that was starting to bloom in that moment I felt gorgeous and femme and powerful! It was a major turning point in my style evolution because for the first time I finally saw Vicki. I saw myself for who I was and not who I thought I needed to be to please the outside world. That day, this Queen was born and she’s not going anywhere.
What is your favorite piece in your closet and why?
My favorite piece of clothing in my closet at the moment is actually the skirt I’m wearing in one of the photos above. It’s the most annoying thing in the world to wear because I’m short and it’s a good 6 or 7 inches to long so walking is a bit of a challenge, but I feel invincible when I wear this skirt, and it’s got pockets which was honestly a major selling point.
How does your femme identity fit in with your presentation to the world?
My femme identity fits in with my presentation with the world in a way that no longer apologizes for itself. I’m no longer so consumed by fitting in and fitting the mold of what makes me acceptable to others. I now present myself as the unabashedly black woman that I am and my style reflects that. For far too long I worried about appealing to the masses and never thought of how I appealed to myself, but now I start my day by flirting with myself in the mirror, telling myself how beautiful, and strong and sexy I am and if the outside world can’t handle this femme it’s their loss honey because I’m here to stay!
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