Making myself up by Jamie Windust

What we wear can be an expression of who we are. Whether we’re dressing up for an interview or to go out with friends, our clothes and makeup can send a powerful message about who we are, how we feel and how we wish to be seen. For RuPaul of BBC Three’s RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, it’s all a kind of performance: “You’re born naked and the rest is drag,” she says.

Jamie Windust, a non-binary writer, public speaker and model, tells us how they express their identity through the way they look and why it’s so important to them to have the freedom to do so.

Pride and strength

In the fast paced, Insta-centric world that we live in, we are often made to feel that our aesthetic is our currency. The first thing people see, it’s often a way for people to make their minds up about us before even speaking to us.

Fashion has played a huge part in the growth and development of my gender identity.

As a non-binary femme-presenting person, I take huge pride and strength in the clothes I wear and the way that I look, not from a superficial perspective, but because wearing the clothes that I wear, and the makeup that I paint onto my face every day is an act of self-care and self-love. It’s a time where I am able to make myself feel the most comfortable and beautiful that I can feel, and celebrating that in ourselves is really important.

For many people, the outward expression of the way they look is a depiction of the way they’re feeling. Whether or not you wear a full rainbow cocktail of colours, or all black, it can be a marker of who you are.

"Fashion has played a huge part in the growth and development of my gender identity."

For many LGBTQ+ people, their fashion and beauty are something that they take huge pride in, and means a lot to them because it’s an integral and important part of their gender identity, or sexuality.

However I'm dressed, I'm still me

I have often felt that there is a stigma and prejudice towards me when I wear makeup, as people think it’s a mask, or I’m asked what I’m ‘supposed to be,’ as if it’s a character or persona that I am putting on every day. It’s time we took the shame and stigma away from caring about your appearance, because it can really make you feel like the person you’re meant to be. Dressing the way I do is a way for me to feel more myself, and be the person that I want to be every day. At the same time, nobody should feel pressured to make themselves up every day.

It’s important to remember that when it comes to my identity, I am still equally valid when I take the makeup and the clothes off.

For instance, today I have left the house wearing a suit, no makeup and flat shoes (it’s rare I’m not wearing heels so I actually struggle to walk in flats). And although I am presenting differently to the world, I still remain as non-binary as I was when I was wearing heels and a power dress yesterday.

But what’s really important is being allowed to take pride in myself in a way that’s meaningful to me, without feeling pressured into feeling that I should look a certain way.

My truest self

The way people treat me when I present myself differently to the rest of the world is something I am very aware of, and allies should be too. For example, on the days where I’m wearing less makeup, I am under less scrutiny, and not as under the microscope as I am when I’m wearing conventionally femme clothing.

I feel that we should all be able to express ourselves and share ourselves with the world in a way that is meaningful to us, without being persecuted for it.

Sadly, many trans and non-binary people, and particularly people of colour, are discriminated against just for being themselves, and that can make it hard for people to live as their truest self. But day by day, step by step, it’s crucial for me as a non-binary person to embrace my body and my identity. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your look and celebrate yourself. It’s your body, and your identity, and your essence, and it’s so crucial that we embrace that when we feel like we are ready to, because it’s one of the most freeing acts of self-love that we can give to ourselves.

For information on RuPaul's Drag Race UK, visit here.

Glossary

Femme - Femme is an identifier for people who associate themselves with more of a feminine physical appearance. It's also a historical word that lesbians and bisexual women used to identify themselves amongst their community, however now its also used by trans/non-binary people to describe their gender identity and/or expression.

Ally - An ally is someone who is a supportive friend for a marginalised group. Someone who is able to support emotionally and physically minority groups who may need more help.

Where to find support

You should not feel pressurised to label yourself, your gender identity or sexual orientation. If you do feel you’d like to come out as non-binary or trans, and are safely able to, you can find support on how to start conversations, and further advice, at Stonewall.

It is always good to speak to someone you trust about the issues you might be facing, no matter how big or small. It can be hard talking about gender, sexuality and relationships, so if you are experiencing difficulties, don’t feel ashamed or different, and don’t feel you have to hide away from it. You can also find help on a range of issues at Young Minds.

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