Not Like the Others: Katherine’s Tips for Standing Out

Today we continue our Panache giveaway-inspired series about how to stand out.

As for standing out, my hair does most of that for me. My hair is extremely coarse, thick, and curly (3b texture), and it is mega poufy even with meticulous care, just through being itself. I’ve had complete strangers pet me, yank at individual strands to see if my hair is real, and even interrogate me about my race, because I’m very pale but with hair typically seen on people of African descent. All without permission, of course.

katherine curly hair

When I was younger, I was miserable because of my hair and the attention it got. I normally would yank my hair back in a vain attempt to contain the curls; on the rare occasion I left it down, my technical theater director referred to this as “letting my freak flag fly,” that by embracing my hair I was letting some of my personality shine through. I was often bullied in school for my hair, so my director’s words were empty to me at that time.

My feelings of misery from standing out began to change when I found an online community of other ‘curlies.’ Their hair-care tips and support helped me feel like less of an oddity, and I began to enjoy what makes my appearance unique. I think more about the positives now, like that I probably won’t ever go bald, and that I’m very easy to find in a crowd. It has been a really difficult journey for me, but I’d encourage everyone to fly their own personal “freak flag” in an effort to love who they are.

Best Breasts Forward ~ Giving Thanks

I have so many things to be thankful for.

One thing I am greatful for are my breasts.

Everytime I feel the need to complain about how my girls droop and sag. Every time I curse out clothes or for one second wish they were smaller . . .

I remember to be thankful.

I remember the women, some in my family who have had to let go of their breasts. Who have found that there are so many other things that define their womanhood.

I remember that the same breasts I’ve sometimes cursed are the same that fed my children for over a year each.

And I remember that if I wasn’t a big-breasted girl I would not be a big-breasted woman with big-breasted readers.

Thank you.

Not Like the Others: Sibley’s Tips for Standing Out

Although this series is about how to deal with being different, each contributor has one thing in common with the others: she’s an amazing writer. This Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks for the amazing readers who entered the Panache sports tank giveaway, and I know you will, too. (Edit: I’ve just been given permission to share Sibley’s blog with you. If, like me, her post leaves you wanting more, then you must check out Radical Neurodivergence Speaking.)

So, tips for standing out and dealing with it? I am made of those: I am a Hapa woman who grew up in a very not-diverse part of town, I am neurodivergent (noticibly so), and I’m one of those people who has an I AM HERE beacon on my forehead. Always have been.

There are two ways to attempt to deal with what happens when you’re noticibly different in more ways than one: you can try to become anonymous (horrendously unsuccessful for me) or you can run with it. The second worked. I did gymnastics and dance so that being different was ok . . . it’s GOOD if a dancer or a gymnast has a bit of unusual that makes people look, even if that same unusual gets her called all sorts of terrible names at school. I began public speaking about my disability and fearlessly confronting crowds of people who had the same ideas about when bullying is ‘ok’ and ‘understandable’. Not everyone can do the “unflinching relentless telling people that what they do to punish people for being different is not ok” thing, but it was empowering for me. If my light was going to shine anyway, may as well use it for good, right?

And I found ways to make every day just a bit easier. If you’re weird and try to blend in, everyone is like “oh look at that weirdo”. If you’re weird and wear a dragon on your ear and bright colored shirts that say Unstoppable Force on the front and Immoveable Object on the back (to pick an example totally at random from my drawer), then people assume that ‘weird’ is confident. And the dragon or the elf ears or what have you allow me to put myself in a headspace of “I am the protagonist in a high fantasy novel”. That sounds weird, but it takes up a lot less mental energy than “whyyyyyy do I not understand that person it must be my problem”, a thing that neurodivergent girls are raised to believe is true. A bit of every day whimsy helps me cope *and* makes people assume that I’m infinitely more awesome than I actually am.

Urban fantasy and dance: it really works for me.

Wearing the Wrong Uniform

Someday soon I want to talk uniforms with you. More and more, I find myself reaching for the same favorite pieces to put together in different ways. I’m wearing three of those pieces below: my Loft jacket,* a Campbell & Kate button front, and a pair of khakis.

my uniform
I wore this same outfit to an evening LinkedIn workshop last week, and I did NOT blend in with the after-work crowd of professional women. The khakis were too casual. Black pants or a dark skirt would have been better, but I don’t own a pair of black pants, and it was too cold for a skirt.

So it was obvious that I hadn’t just come from the office, and I felt a little sheepish about that. However, I couldn’t do anything about it, so I decided just to make myself friendly to the women around me, and I ended up learning good things about LinkedIn and meeting some really nice people.

This of course reminded me of the great advice about standing out that the Panache giveaway entrants have sent me, and this is the week I’m going to begin sharing them. So even though Mia, Leah and I will be spending time with family instead of writing for the rest of the week, be sure to visit Hourglassy for a daily dose of inspiration from your fellow readers.


*In the end, this jacket and the denim pencil skirt were the only pieces I kept from my Loft shopping trip. I know this jacket is now too big, so if I figure out how to make it more fitted, I’ll be writing about the alterations here!