If I had to choose between men and distressed jeans, I would choose denim, every time. Minus a few unreliable threads at the knee and the resistance of the button, holding on for dear life, as I scarf down meals full of carbs and protein, denim never lets me down. When I pair my jeans with my signature authentic leather jacket and a statement lipstick hue, I feel as if I can take over the world. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, with such bold, androgynous fashion comes intimidation.

I grew up a daddy’s girl. I was a late bloomer, so my high school years consisted of me wearing whatever I could to downplay my figure.

I wore medium and dark wash jeans and sling backpacks to hide my virtually nonexistent bum. I’m talking about those pre-track and field days, the days before I discovered squats.

I became known as the pure, smart, jokester with a cute face, long legs, and fresh kicks. It wasn’t until my college years that I began to embrace being the cool, yet borderline awkward, tall and skinny girl. I had always taken an interest in fashion by isolating a single garment or accessory and incorporating it in every look. Choosing an element to take over the top was appealing to me, and my tribe can tell you that I’ve had my share of trendy phases. My style evolved from Nikes and lip gloss to quality denim and killer lipstick.

I’d like to think of my style as progressive. However, many people fail to understand it, especially guys. Thank God for Leandra Medine who paved the way with Man Repeller. These days, women like me who embrace androgynous fashion can feel a bit less weird, and a lot more like themselves.

On my hiatus from dating, I’m actually excited and liberated by the fact that many men who would love to approach me won’t. Why would I want to entertain someone who is intimidated by my blue lipstick anyway?

I don’t step out in the world every day to appeal to society’s standards. I step out to be interesting and helpful…to catch vibes, and to see art in motion.

Men are weird. They are hyper-masculine, yet as soft as cotton in the presence of a powerful, fearless woman. It took me a while to realize this, and it’s a hard pill to swallow, especially in Los Angeles (aka the capital of options). I knew moving here that I would never be the prettiest, richest, or most fit girl, so I don’t even bother trying. I’m 28 years old, just settling in my career, and only interested in making real connections. My style is my form of self-expression, and I understand that it is open to interpretation, which is why I don’t care if people think I look gothic or like a butch lesbian.

My personality is dynamic, and I think of my style as a mere extension of who I am. I may wear more denim, leather, and lipstick than the average girl, but have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, I’m protecting something? Have you ever thought one’s style as an external layer– a protective barrier against predators and general bullshit? It’s true. I am protecting my heart.

If I can ward off insecure and superficial men through my fashion choices, why not? It’s actually brilliant.

So, here’s my message to all of the guys out there who are hesitant to approach yours truly, a refined tomboy:

I’m not your damsel in distress, nor can you contain me. I don’t need you, but I’d like for you to make me want you. I’m not a slave to the chase, which is why I don’t feel the need to prove my femininity to you. I’m a strategist. I’m spiritual and intuitive, and as much as you’d hate to admit it, you feel my presence when I walk in the room. You believe that I am beautiful, yet I make you uncomfortable. Why? Let me guess. My beauty is strange, because I can wear your shirt better than you? Is it because my dark lipstick is captivating? Is it the black girl magic or my resting bitch face? Is it the way I interact with my tribe– engaged, yet somehow distant? Do you feel that my love for denim, leather, and lipstick threatens my ability to be submissive? Maybe it is one or a combination of those things that make you reluctant to approach me. Whatever the case may be, it sucks to be you.

I’m human. I’ll admit that I occasionally stress out about the lack of authentic connections I make with men, but I do feel confident that the right one will connect with me at the right time, and I will be in the best possible position to reciprocate his energy. In the meantime, I’ll continue to express myself, the way I see fit.

Remember, self-expression has everything to do with you, and no one else. I just so happened to find true love in denim, leather, and lipstick. I am single, true enough. However, I found the most important love of all: self-love.

Just own it.

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