“I love your androgynous style.” This is something I have been told on more than one occasion. And I am happy to use hashtags like “genderbender” when posting pics of myself in a suit because I realize suits for women aren’t the quote-unquote norm for a fancy occasion. When people think red carpet women, they immediately picture a dress. I, however, more often than think pant suit. It’s not a comfort thing. I love dresses and have many comfortable ones. It’s not a statement about my sexuality, my gender, or me taking a stand against how women are treated on red carpets. Though they are often treated like a mannequin with no talent beyond wearing a designer dress, but I digress. For me, it’s as simple as this: I feel sexy in a suit. And powerful. And clean. And head-turning. I do it for me, because that day, I want to wear a suit so I’m gonna to wear a fuckin’ suit.

And I know you have the best intentions when you tell me I’m “androgynous.” But effectively what you are doing is robbing me of my femininity. The suit does not do this. You do this. You and your ideas of the suit. Your ideas of fashion. Your ideas of what you feel welcome to comment on. My “genderbender” is mine. And you commenting on it is for one: unsurprising, but more importantly: unwanted.

Confused about where to go in this “new” politically correct world? Let me help. Consider noting the feeling evoked by the look that the person has thrown together. “You look commanding.” “I love your presence in this outfit.” “You look radiant, powerful, unstoppable.” Or perhaps the person looks delicate, full of grace, classical, poised, fierce, inspirational, mysterious, confident. Trust me: if you cut through the outfit itself and opt for what is inside instead, I guarantee that that person will remember that compliment over the thousand other “you look beautifuls.” And they will definitely appreciate it more than “I love your androgynous style.”

An ex of mine was a bit of a self-proclaimed renaissance man. Sometimes it was fascinating like when he could accurately predict if a person’s parents were still together based off a few random questions. Times like those, it was like dating Sherlock Holmes. But other times, like when he’d correct my pronunciation? That’s when it was like dating Ben Stein (just in case that’s appealing to anyone, no judgment, but I meant it in a bad way). Those are the times when I would clench my teeth so hard, two veins would protrude from my neck. I’d be thankful I wasn’t born with Cyclops’ optic blast ability otherwise I’d be taking the stand pleading “your honour, I didn’t mean to kill him, my protective glasses just FELL off.” And then I’d tell the jury that though they couldn’t see it through my lenses, I was definitely batting my lashes in a cute and totally innocent way.

Perhaps you haven’t noticed but many people, at least in Toronto, have dropped the “c” out of the word “picture.” So when I ask, “hey babe, can you take my picture?” I sound as if I am asking my boyfriend to grab a pitcher of something (probably wine ’cause that’s how I roll). “PIC-ture. PIC-ture. PIC. There’s a c,” he would say. You know what else there is? A pedantic man making his girlfriend feel stupid for no reason other than to make himself feel better. Was my dropped “c” hurting anyone? No. Did it make me stand out from the crowd or make me seem of a lower level I.Q.? Hell no. Did it give me a complex and make me want to speak less around him? Absolutely.

There’s a famous anonymous quote, “never make fun of someone if they mispronounce a word, it means they learned it by reading.” If I was a betting gal, I’d say I probably learned the word “picture” in grade school from a teacher and not from reading. And somewhere along the way, much like the second “t” in Toronto (re: Turonno), the “c” just dropped out. But the lesson still stands: don’t be a pronunciation bitch. It doesn’t make you look smart, it makes you look like literally the worst person ever. PLEASE stop talking, then go die.

But seriously it’s ba-gel. Like BAY-gel. Not bag-el. You idiot.

Braces. My top teeth were always straight and though my bottom teeth were a little mangled, they didn’t show that much when I spoke. Despite them being mostly hidden, I begged my parents for braces because all the cool kids were getting them in grade seven. This may have been my first foray into pain for pleasure and let me tell you, no fuckin’ thank you.

The oral torture device was set to be in my life for 1.5 years. Not so bad. I can handle the pain for that long if it means my smile will look as much like a set of train tracks as all the popular girls. And in the meantime I can make the pain fun with colorful rubber bands! YAY! On a side note, here’s some colours to stay away from: brown for obvious reasons, silver because it just looks like more metal, and yellow because the color variation between them and your supposed white teeth is not that much.

Here’s something I didn’t know, 1.5 years is an estimate based on the assumption that you will follow the proper elastics regimen. While I was big on following in the footsteps of the popular girls, I wasn’t big on following plans specifically laid out to better my way of life. Just like that, 1.5 years turned into 3.5 years. And if you’re thinking that would mean two more years of being cool, you would be wrong. So very wrong. Except that one time in grade 9 science where I figured out that my braces were able to conduct electricity to illuminate a light bulb. That day I was definitely cool.

I was a metal mouth until my junior year of High School. The upside? I now have straight teeth and two metal bars behind them that make sure they stay that way. Another upside is that I never needed head gear (though this girl at March Break camp had it and she was really cool so again there was a solid week where I envied the apparatus).

In fear of having to revisit the device, I monitor my wires to ensure they never fall off. I’ve heard way too many stories from people saying they had braces but their wire fell off so now their teeth are crooked again. Oh hell no. Surprisingly, braces don’t have the same allure of popularity that they once had. Who’d have thought? Instead, they bring ideas of pain for pain’s sake. And I can think of way more fun ways of exploring that route that don’t include cut up cheeks, a forty minute flossing routine, and elastics causing my teeth to snap together any time I opened too wide like a noise maker with all the sound and none of the fun.

Braces: reaffirming my belief that I was, am, and will always be #anythingbutcool.

Sometimes my body can’t tell if I’m on a literal rollercoaster or I’m just really embarrassed. Embarrassing moments are one of those things that are impossible to remember when asked to recall but when you remember them organically it’s as if they just happened. My heart feels as if it plummets down to my stomach, my face flushes, and I get nauseated. It’s a completely undesirable experience and has led me to wonder why that reaction happens at all?

Coming from an evolutionary standpoint I can’t fathom what benefits it really has. Take this for example, one time I was on vacation with a male friend and while we were emptying our bags in the hotel room, a handful of condoms fell out of my bag and spread across the floor. Instant embarrassment. The assumption that those condoms could have been intended for that friend is just as painful for me as the assumption that I brought ten condoms for sexcapades with a stranger. The truth? I really don’t know. Maybe a bit of both? Maybe they were more of a pipe-dream during a particular dry spell? Maybe I just wanted to have them to think that I could be the girl who fucks a lot on vacation? Whatever the reason, I never expected to be found out.

So what’s the lesson that my bright red rosy cheeks taught me in that moment? Don’t be prepared. And… take more care when emptying suit cases. Also, that whenever I randomly remember this moment in the future, it will feel as if it is happening again for the first time. Also, also, no amount of wondering if the other person involved remembers this moment will give me any solace or reduce the amount of embarrassment felt. Verdict? Feelings of embarrassment have no benefitting effects beyond keeping a person humble. That being the case, I’m really fuckin’ humble.

I want to know what it is about being offensive that people find so alluring? We live in a culture that seems to celebrate assholes and it continues to baffle me. In the wake of the Weinstein scandal and everything that has happened since, I hope that it marks a shift, not only in how women are treated, but also how people are treated.

This week I heard a phrase that made me sick, “let the slut gates open.” Though the sentence was not said to me or even intended for my ears, I still found myself shocked that someone could (a) string words together in such a disgusting way and (b) expect everyone who heard it to accept it. This isn’t the first time someone has uttered words that have made my head hurt and I’m sure it won’t be the last. But the saddest thing to me is that they don’t see anything wrong with what they have said.

Just like anyone else, I have my shortcomings but I actively try to be respectful and attempt to surround with people who do the same. Unfortunately or fortunately, I tend to be known as the woman who speaks up. I am quick to say, please don’t say that word around me when people gleefully spit out “that’s retarded.” I do my best to correct my friends when they call themselves stupid. I don’t like when people use the word “gay” in a derogatory way. Because of that, I get labeled as difficult or a prude, uptight and uncool. If the definition of cool is to be disrespectful then I take pride in being anything but cool.

I was a gullible child. I tended to take people at their word because it was hard for me to understand why someone would lie. If you say most girls can’t touch their elbows together behind their back, then damn sure I believe you and I want to know which category I belong to – it’s the small chested category. But don’t fret, I am now a fully formed adult (debatable) and have shed most of my naiveté. That being said, I have never wanted someone to be pulling my chain more than Trump and his lift on the Elephant Trophy Ban. Trump, should you turn around and say, “just kidding!” I promise I won’t resort to my childhood mechanisms to cope with your initial deceit which include pushing you, stealing your toys, and/or telling my Mom.DOy5n5EVAAAE6MQ