My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Outdoor Clothes, Covering and Remaining Goth

I have no idea why I didn't publish this post ages ago. It was written over a month ago, back when the weather was cooler. It got to 33℃/91.4℉ a couple of days ago in Aviemore, a relatively nearby town, and it feels hotter today, but I haven't been to check the thermometer. I am in the North of Scotland, close enough to the Pole to see the Northern Lights, but the sky is clear blue and I'm hiding with the laptop in the shade. Anyway, when I wore this outfit it was chilly and windy. Outfit posts are not the purpose of this blog, and I don't want to stray into making them too regularly, but this is a request. I described this outfit to an online friend, who wanted to see it. 

I'm not sure that's a nice smile.
I wore this outfit to walk and take public transport into the city, and this really is the sort of thing I wear on an everyday basis, except for working hours.  The 'scraps' style skirt is Marks & Spencers, and I saw a customer wearing one back when I worked in a supermarket, and it was love at first sight. I actually asked the customer where they'd got it, and they said it was M&S, but not the current season. I was so disappointed, especially when I couldn't find one on e-bay. Then, a week or two later I found a version of the skirt in my size in a charity shop in town and I was over-joyed. As I am quite tall, I was very excited to find that it was actually long enough on me. The jacket was a Viyella jacket that I bought partly modified on e-bay. It had been given lacing at the back, and re-cut to a narrower, more fitted shape. I then further modified it by altering the lacing at the back, altering the velvet cuffs and replacing the fabric-covered buttons with ornate metal ones. The cloak I got as part of a swap with a friend. The leather gloves were a Christmas present.

Yes, I'm rather tall.
This outfit also got a strange comment out of a "babybat" goth I met on public transport: "Aren't you a bit... covered up to be a Goth?". This surprised me because it held the implication that one must reveal flesh in order to be Goth, which while I have not problem with people who do, and know of quite a few Goths that do, doesn't seem to me as intrinsically part of the subculture. I personally prefer not to reveal much flesh, simply because I am not comfortable with it, and today, even with sweltering temperatures, I am in a floor-length skirt and am not bearing more than an inch of cleavage, nor my midriff nor my shoulders. Also, most historical fashions were not very revealing at all (well, excluding the "robe en chemise" styles of Revolutionary France which was inspired by pottering around in what was then an undergarment, and which could have very low necklines and be rather sheer, and a few other things) and my aesthetic and style preferences and inspirations tend to be rather anachronistic.  Also, long but loose clothes are actually rather good for hot weather. 

Sometimes I do wear shorter skirts, but I do get rather self-conscious in short skirts, a bare midriff, showing cleavage, etc. It's not that I feel ugly, more the opposite - I know that I'm reasonably attractive and I don't like the attention. I can see that this seems slightly absurd when I walk around in decidedly non-mainstream clothes that look significantly different from what most people wear, but I find random insults easier to tune out than innuendo and unwanted advances, wolf-whistles, etc. I also do not think "sexy" and "beautiful" are synonymous, and I would much rather be elegant in an anachronistic way than "sexy". 

I'm sitting in a chair, in a pile of cushions, a big pile of cushions.
They're all my cushions, you can't have them... preciousssss cushionssss.

Now with added candles.
I am also covering my head in this outfit, but for practical rather than religious reasons. Actually, I cover my head with non-hat items quite often. I'd rather like a nice top-hat to wear, but I can't afford a real one. The wind here feels sharp - the damp air makes a cold wind sting. I tend to wear a velvet scarf over my head and ears and my hood up to keep my ears warm and comfortable and to keep my hair from blowing in my eyes. I do know of Goths who are Muslim and Plain Christian who cover their heads for religious reasons, and I do not feel that this is counter to them being Goth, despite the fact that displaying fancy hair has been a strong part of the subculture since the huge back-combed styles of the '80s. Each person with an interest in the Goth subculture should join in however much they want, and should be primarily themselves, rather  than try to conform to the aesthetic of other members, and if they want to incorporate Goth into a religious lifestyle, there are no Rules of Goth to state otherwise. 

I would say that this outfit is somewhere between Aristocrat and Romantic Goth - the sharp, relatively minimalistic jacket and leather gloves seem more Aristocrat, but the cloak, layered skirt and makeup are probably more Romantic Goth. It's definitely not a traditional Goth outfit, anyway. Whatever it is, it is one of my favourite outfits for cool but not wet or particularly cold weather. 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

World Goth Day 2012

Today is World Goth Day. I can't really "get my goth on" at work, as I work at a school, with children and as not to inadvertently scare the children or worry the parents (there is still a lot of misinformation about Goths and what we supposedly get up to),  I dress rather sensibly and fairly normally. I did want to mark World Goth Day, though, so I put together a slightly more Goth-inspired outfit than usual. As I normally don't wear all black to work (I tend to wear black trouser suits with coloured tops) and I wasn't  wearing anything that did not come from a mainstream retailer, the outfit probably won't arouse suspicion about subcultural tendencies. 

 World Goth Day

World Goth Day has been criticised as being a pointless event, but I don't think it so. A lot of us who live in places where Goths are not necessarily accepted but are at least mostly tolerated and who face only mild street harassment seem to take the ability to be ourselves in public for granted. There are people who, for one reason or another, are not able to be themselves to a reasonable extent (I guess we all make small sacrifices) on a daily basis and there are those who are trying to be Goth in places hostile to any form of nonconformity.  There are several instances globally of subcultural types facing very real threats, from ::Punks being arrested, shaved and put through "re-education" in Indonesia:: to ::Emos being killed in Iraq:: because they are perceived to be gay and because Emo is seen as a western thing. Even those of us who live in places like the UK and America, perceived as "safe" places to be subcultural, can face the threat of serious violence, such as the unfortunate case of ::Sophie Lancaster:: who was murdered for being a Goth.

World Goth Day is a day in which we stand in solidarity as a global community, a day to remember that we are not alone in our unusual tastes, and a day to remind others that they are not alone either. Despite the threat of prejudice and potential for violent, even deadly attacks, Goths and other subcultures remain. The founders of World Goth Day proclaim on their website, "There are quite a few Goths who have fought damn hard to retain their identity despite peer pressure, family pressure and indeed, any pressure to conform, and if you've gone to all that trouble to preserve what you believe is the 'real you', don't you think you owe it to yourself to shine for a day?"

It is also a day for those Goths who through location, family circumstances, time constraints or other such reasons, don't get to participate in the subculture as they once did. Some areas are running midweek Goth nights (not so good if you're working the next day, but good if it's cheaper than paying weekend babysitting rates). It's an occasion to bother getting dressed up for, to request Sisters of Mercy and The Damned on the radio, to wear those platform boots that have been lurking in the back of the cupboard unworn for a year. Yes, theoretically one could do these on any day, but making a special day of it is a bit of a psychological incentive.  


The weather has been very warm (by Scottish standards), so I went for a floatier blouse than usual and no jacket or sweater. Usually I am wearing some form of jacket, cardigan or sweater, usually a blazer, but those are not relevant to this post. It has quite a high neckline, even if the top section is mesh, and the top of the more opaque section stops above my cleavage line. I do not think it appropriate to my position to be showing cleavage at work, and the sun is bright enough to burn my delicate pale skin. I always wear trousers a bit like this to work.  

I wish my bedroom was the same purple as the hall.

My watch was £8.50 in a charity shop, it has an extra-long wrap-around strap that I arrange differently every day, I think it is the perfect blend of funky and sensible. I don't normally wear a watch outside of work, but it's far too useful at work for me to not wear one. The necklace is Scottish, bought here and made here, with a "stone" of what I think is thistle-purple glass. To me, it is just an oval with interlace designs, but it is just Cross-ish enough to hopefully avert any suspicion caused by the Pentacle. I don't want to wear a Christian cross when I'm Pagan, but I also worry that some people may have heard equally venomous rumours about Pagans as they have Goths... Who knows what they think Goth Pagans get up to! 

Thanks to Raven for both of the photographs. 

My shoes are comfortable and sensible - a pair of those flat shoes with the decorative leatherwork terribly popular amongst hipsters at the moment (anybody know what they're called?). I walk several miles to work and back on foot so I need shoes that are comfortable, but I also need to look sensible and don't have the option of changing shoes, so I can't wear my hiking boots (that and they make my feet sweat when it gets warm).

My hair, by the way, is a dark aubergine colour. 

Not pictured are two other things I did for World Goth Day - one was clip one of my spiked cuffs onto my key-chain, and the other was wear a length of silver and black around my wrist. World Goth Day don't have special rubber bracelets, but a S.O.P.H.I.E bracelet would be appropriate; actually a S.O.P.H.I.E bracelet is always appropriate. I should really order one soon. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Babybats, ElderGoths and In-between

I used to think a Babybat was a Goth under the age of 15 and an ElderGoth a goth that's also an adult. I didn't realise that there were a significant number of Goths over 30, and I thought that most of the time Goths got forced out of the subculture by the practicalities of work and children. 

I was so naïve!

I was also, like most people mistaken about this sort of thing, a Babybat myself. Yes, I'd been associating with various subcultures including Goth since my mid-teens, but I had not really walked deeply into the Goth subculture. I was socialising with a handful of Goths of a similar age to myself and not really talking to other club patrons as much as I ought. Internet goths got dismissed as people who were only on the internet and not participating in real life (terribly erroneous, I know). Basically, I was centring on a small world of those approximately my age and whom I knew well and inadvertently blinkering myself to the wider picture. 

It was partly because I was having too much fun with my circle of friends to be paying attention, but it was also because I was rather shy about talking to these older goths; after all, they'd seen and done things I only dreamed of. There was this fear that they would look down on me for being young, for not having been there in the '80s (Being alive in the '80s is not the same as actually having been to those gigs, those concerts, those clubs...), for getting things wrong such as not knowing things like that Robert Smith and Sid Vicious had played with the Banshees and that Patricia Morrison joined the Damned in the 1990s; for having wonky, under-practiced makeup and for not having quite the right sense of Goth fashion... Part of me really wanted to talk to these people who had been Goth longer than I'd been alive, and learn, and possibly make new friends, but part of me was too scared of being turned away with mocking words by people I admired. 

Now I am older, slightly wiser, and in time, I will be an ElderGoth (it's not like I am going to leave the subculture, at least not until I leave the world entirely). I've already realised that through writing this blog, some people look to me in that way but - openly - no; I am too young and too inexperienced to call myself that. I am also not a Babybat any more - having been in the subculture too many years and being too old. I have got to the age where random strangers have started telling me it is about time to "grow out of it".  So what am I, in this case of two worlds and the in-between? Well, just a regular Goth! It appears that there are those who think that "Babybat" and "ElderGoth" are the only two forms of Goth, but that is not the case. 

There is nothing wrong with being just a Goth.
It does not mean that you are not still learning, and it does not mean that you haven't got anything to say. 

There was a time when there were no such concepts as Babybats and Eldergoths, when everyone was fairly equal, and didn't always even call themselves Goth (that term, by the way, was applied to the subculture from outside, by the music press) but over 30+ years of the subculture's existence  and a constant fresh intake over those years, these distinctions have been made. The first person I saw using the terms was Jillian Venters, also known as The Lady of The Manners, who runs the online Goth agony-aunt and advice site ::Gothic Charm School::. I don't know if it precedes her, but do think that the popularity of her website has certainly helped spread the terms. 

Plenty of remarks have already been made across the internet on various blogs and forums about how older, more experienced Goths should not shun and mock younger Goths, even younger Goths that are getting it terribly wrong, but educate them politely in the hope that the polite lessons will stick. Plenty of suggestions for Babybats in that vein have also been made, some more factually accurate than others. There is no need for me to repeat these things. 

Time and a dedicated interest in the subculture are the only things that make Babybat metamorphose into a Goth, and as long as they fabricate their chrysalis (or pupa) from good resources, a full Goth butterfly (or moth) should emerge.

People learn throughout their lives - once they have become fairly established  as Goths, they do not suddenly know everything about Goth just because they are no longer Babybats, nor do they suddenly know everything about anything else.  There is always more to learn, there will always be another band to come across, another fashion idea to inspire, another interesting book to read, another factoid to amuse. Even the ElderGoths who have been at this lark for longer than I've lived will still come across new things. It is important to have an open mind, and never be too fixed as to be immovable in the face of new information. 

Goth is a subculture based around musical tastes, aesthetics and a broadly dark mindset, apart from facts such as who sung in what band, what date a book was published, etc. a lot of Goth is about subjective matters and personal tastes and opinions, and those things do not have a fixed right or wrong, more what one likes and dislikes. There is no fixed line, just general consensus. Remember that if you stray out of the vague boundaries of Goth that being Not Goth is not bad, it's just not Goth. 

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Raven Appreciation ♥

I do not live alone, but together with my wonderful partner Raven. "Raven" is a pseudonym in a similar manner to "HouseCat." Raven is absolutely wonderful to live with, and is an excellent housemate as well as an excellent partner. I could go on at length about his personal attributes, but this would a) bore my readers b) embarrass him and c) have me run the risk of being terribly sappy. Also, I am inherently biased in the matter ;-) . He has supported me and been by my side and been a huge help to me and I adore him dearly and hope to be as supportive and kind to him as he is to me. 

Jabots make men more dashing. 

Raven and I met over the internet in 2009, and first met in person on February 2nd 2010. For a long time we carried on a distance relationship as we lived in separate countries, but summer last year we both moved to Scotland, he in early July and I in late August. We're hoping to eventually get married.

Looking somewhere between 'Gentleman' and "A Clockwork Orange'

Raven also helps me with my blog by photographing things when my skills fall short (he is a semi-professional photographer and runs ::Chance Photography::) and by reading through my drafts and pointing out typographical errors and other mistakes, and also giving me feedback on content.  He is also helping me become better at taking photographs in my own right and supports me in my hobby of photographing architecture, statuary and monuments by coming with me to graveyards and driving me to places too far to walk. He has also helped considerably with the up-coming recipe posts.

I would like to thank him publicly for the contribution he makes behind the scenes on this blog!

A friend described this pose as "Posh Vampire"

He would not describe himself as a Goth, despite the fact he occasionally wears Romantic Goth fashion and has a few Gothic interests, but is probably better described as a something of a combination of Metalhead, Industrial/Rivethead and Cybergoth, with a wide taste in music but especially liking heavy metal and various forms of industrial, dark techno, aggrotech, power noise, E.B.M, etc.  I am not entirely au fait with the genre distinctions of that sort of music (Raven has tried to educate me, but I fear that it is like trying to educate a brick.), but basically what I call "the stompy, angry and beepy stuff". He is himself, and that is more important than what subcultural ties he has and does not like to categorise himself as part of any one subculture. I'm not in love with him because he's  oh so dark and spooooooky, I'm in love with him because he's a wonderful person.

Myself, later that afternoon

The photographs in this blog post were taken in March, in Wallingford, Oxfordshire where Raven and I were both in Romantic Goth fashion and appreciating the castle grounds and beautiful architecture. His hair is slightly more golden than it appears in these photographs, maybe a consequence of I having taken them towards dusk on a grey English spring day. 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Gender, Femininity and Goth

This is a further elaboration on my previous posts about my struggle with gender identity, understanding my nature in relation to societal gender expectation and similar. These posts are ::here:: for the (now) introductory account of this struggle and ::here:: for a post that elaborates on how I see femininity and such things as society construes as feminine as not inherently inferior to masculinity and that which society sees as masculine. This post is supposed to both bring the above mentioned posts together, but also tie this in to my experience with the Goth subculture, as after all, my blog is theoretically about things Dark Romantic and Goth. 

As I have mentioned in previous posts, as a teenager I struggled with figuring out myself, my gender identity, and sexual identity because how I was as a person did not match the expected female role, and did not match the expectations I felt from my family, peers, and establishments like the schools I went to and the churches I used to attend and the way I saw women portrayed in the mainstream media. I did not fit the gender role given to men, though either. I didn't even realise that these gender roles were a product of modern society rather than some intrinsic womanliness I was somehow missing.  I theoretically knew about feminism, but was largely ignorant, and often man-blaming, and my thoughts on what constituted gender were very muddled.

I had always been a tomboy as a child, ardently refusing to wear skirts or have anything done to my hair, always up a tree somewhere, or climbing the architecture (it was getting to the point where my name could be mistaken for "get down from there!"). My knowledge of being a girl was limited to "I have different bits between my legs than the boys do and my aunties keep giving me 'boring toys' and the boy's aunties don't give them 'boring toys'". I liked poking dead things and collecting bones, skeletons and skulls,  I had no fear of going in the graveyard, I liked building with Legos and then playing with more complicated construction toys, I liked reading the car manual, vainly trying to understand how the darned contraption worked, I liked building simple electronic projects with my Dad, or building forts with him in the woods, or learning how to build shelters, track animals, what the plants that grew natively were and which ones were good for eating. I loved big fierce animals and had a temporary obsession with dinosaurs. When someone bought me a Barbie, I ditched her girly clothes and had her on space missions or helping Action Man save the world. The only 'girly' toys I liked were the play cookery sets, but I liked the play DIY sets just as much. They were for "playing house properly" - none of this larking about with toy prams and plastic babies for me! 

My heroes as a child were heroines, Jean D'Arc (I used to boo whenever I read of her being executed), Boudica (I was a bit too young to understand that her bloody rebellion was well, actually quite a horrid thing to subject the residents of the cities to), Xena the Warrior Princess (whom I really wished wasn't fictional), and Buffy the Vampire slayer (when I was a teenager, Willow was one of my first celebrity/character crushes) but all of those people were in the past or fictional, and they were very much "one offs", singular anomalies, something I didn't consciously understand at the time, but partly led to my belief that personally, as a woman I could not be strong or fierce, when I grew older. I eventually learnt that the ability to fight and lead people into battle was not the definition of strength, merely of military prowess, (not that those are "mere", especially if you've taken up a career in the forces - that's a job I could not do.) but it took me a while to distinguish strength of character from the macho idea of "bad ass". 

I did struggle with how it seemed that "boy things" were better, and somehow I had internalised this subtle misogyny, this idea that men were strong, brave, courageous, tough, bad-ass, etc, and only exceptional women possessed these qualities. This was partly because I had not yet learnt that just because I didn't enjoy playing with girly things it did not mean that they were inferior, just that I personally thought they were boring, but I did pick up on how "sissy" and "girly" were used as pejorative terms, and seemed synonymous with "weak" and "cowardly" and "boring". Part of my snubbing of "girly" things was because I thought they were weak, and I needed to be strong to survive what life was throwing at me. Part of this manifested in a distinct lack of interest in feminine fashion as I grew older, partly because I genuinely did not like the looks that were popular at the time (I still think '90s fashions are hideous) and partly because I did not want to be feel weak, or be seen as weak and girly. My clothes were my armour from the world, my costume, maybe if I could dress fierce and strong I could be fierce and strong, feel fierce and strong, convince others that I was fierce and strong... Powerful sentiments in the face of terrible bullying, a terrible relationship with various educational institutions, a perception of being ignored by those deciding my fate for me, and a history of violent abuse. 

If only I had had a better understanding of what strength was, and how I was squashing my own by forever seeking strength in being something else, whether it be in the delusions I had at the time of being a mythological creature, or in seeking to be more masculine because I equated masculinity with toughness and toughness with strength. I couldn't accept myself as who I was, so all my strengths were founded in illusions, ones that would crash down around me periodically, leaving me vulnerable and suicidally depressed.  That was not strength at all, that was semi-protective fantasy.

As I drifted through subcultures, I tended to pick ones that matched up with my favourite fantasy, whether it was of being an elfin forest creature, a terrible demon or a modern-day Keats,  and as my fantasies changed, so did my subcultural affiliation - hippie, babybat, then anachronistic, but none of these reflected who I really was, just what I wanted to be. The time where I was in the Romanticism phase was also the time when I crossed dressed, and this was not just an reflection of the poets and musicians I idolised, but a symbol of how I did not feel right being "girly" and "female", how I felt alienated from other women and from the roles set out for young women my age. I was intellectually aware that girls could do anything boys could do, but part of me was afraid to grasp that, despite having been raised by Dad without that sort of limitation, part of me was still clinging onto the words of bullies, narrow-minded educators and busy-body relatives, part of me thought that what I could do and what I ought to do and what I wanted to do did not match.

I then re-discovered Goth, and in this wardrobe was a new strength, but this time around it wasn't based on fantasies of myself as some scary bad ass goth-chick, it was based in me wearing clothes because I actually liked them. I had somewhere, discovered where my aesthetics lay, some where between Romantic and Goth, in the darker ends of fashion, and while I had always had the confidence to dress differently, before I had been wearing my strangeness as a shield, now I was simply getting dressed, being myself, and I was so much MORE confident, it was no longer a deliberate and strangely precarious rebellious sort of difference, it was the confidence that came with knowing that this was simply who I was and that there was nothing wrong with this. In Goth I had also found a community of like-minded individuals, where there was less of an importance on what was trendy, and practically no importance on being traditionally male or female, as I saw in the women on the dance floor wearing combat boots, combat trousers, black tank-tops and short cropped hair and the men wearing makeup, long hair, tight trousers and frilly shirts, and the men wearing nail-polish and make-up with their New Rocks and the women wearing New Rocks with their corsets and ruffles. The emphasis was on being yourself rather than even conforming to the subculture, let alone conforming to society's norms.

I had, on occasions as a teenager, detested my female self, and felt almost like I should have been male, because I certainly didn't feel feminine, but then I came to understand that these concepts of "masculine" and "feminine" were drawn up by society, and were variable between societies and time periods, especially as I looked at women's roles through history, and the gender ideals set up for men and women and how those also changed between times and places, and I came to understand that I was not unwoman simply because how my mind worked did not match how society thought that my mind should work according to what my biological body looked like. 

There were also these strong female role-models, like the wonderful Siouxise Sioux, who was clearly a strong woman with a powerful voice, who yes used the appeal of her body to promote her music to some extent, but that was very much tertiary to her appeal as primarily a musician and frontwoman for Siouxsie and The Banshees - I noted that it was Siouxsie AND the Banshees, and how she was very much the iconic and key member of that group - and to her secondary appeal as a female face for the burgeoning outgrowth of Punk and Post-Punk that would become Goth. Women like Siouxsie Sioux and Patricia Morrison and now Emilie Autumn are as much icons of their genre, and their strength was a personal strength of character (although I know Emilie has done a few things to alienate sections of her fan base and I feel she over-capitalises on the "mad girl" concept) and one also born of talent, and the determination to make something of those talents. 

As I stayed in the Goth subculture and got further into it, I found myself experimenting with wearing more feminine outfits, and then with makeup, no longer shunning them because they were girly and a 'sign of weakness'. I stopped seeing male and female fashion archetypes as these really important gender signifiers, and simply as clothes, and realised that it was OK to wear combat trousers, stompy boots and a plain black button-up shirt and equally OK to wear Lolita-esque pile of black ruffles and frills. There was nothing actually stoping me wearing anything I liked to wear, whether it be deemed "girly" or "masculine" by society. My choices were no longer limited by either what I felt was gender appropriate or by trying to give the appearance of a gender, because I realised that these concepts were arbitrary. I also realised that killer heels and frilly shirts did not make me weak, and combat trousers and New Rock boots did not make me strong, even if the latter are a lot more practical. I did not have to take on traditionally male roles or male signifiers to be strong, and not wearing things traditionally thought of girly did not make me 'unwoman' or masculine, they just made me not traditionally girly. I  am a woman, but also, like everyone else, an individual. Wearing things that were traditionally feminine did not mean I had to take on a demure, submissive and passive mindset the same time I tightened my corset or put on my petticoats.

Somehow, my choice in subculture and its associated fashion helped me discover who I really was and what strengths I possessed. 

I could also take some comfort in that the dark imagery of Goth fashion would off-set any "girly and weak" perceptions in the eyes of others who still believed in that sort of misogyny.  Yes, such theatrical menace is unnecessary, but sadly I am still not quite as confident wearing things I think others may dismiss me as weak for, even if I know my clothes do not change who I am, but I worry that I will have yet more to fight before being taken seriously. That said, I am still a LOT more confident in a skirt than I used to be, because even if I worry about other's perceptions of me, I don't worry about who I am. I also realise that somebody who is strong in the guise of something perceived as weak can give me an advantage in such as it can throw adversaries off kilter as they do not see it coming!