I am a Rubik’s Cube

Raegan S., Class of 2023

The beige shelves filled with Barbie dolls and makeup kits never piqued my interest. I found myself intrigued by a six-sided cube that lacked a feminine presence. Laying on my blue bed sheets surrounded by Star Wars posters, I twisted each side of the cube. My undaunted self demands to solve the seemingly simple, yet perplexing puzzle. Perhaps I could meticulously remove each sticker, arranging them to appear solved.

Have I solved the cube or have I cheated myself to appear admirable?

I was a young girl sailing through the blouses, flare jeans, and ugg boots. I darted through the dresses, shamefully tossing my 3-pack sports bra in the scarlet shopping cart, and arriving at rock band t-shirts. I slipped on the oversized Led Zeppelin shirt with a sense of euphoria. It hung loosely enough to hide my figure, drooping midway down my thighs. My next objective was locating men’s Air Max 97’s suited for my feet. I began peeling my eyes for the trademarked swoosh.

Should I bitterly grab a dress off the rack and accentuate my breasts and butt to emerge feminine?

Amidst my dreadful middle school experience, peers would query my clothing. I observed glares while strolling through the halls, absorbing the constant judgment from those around me, but perhaps the classroom would be different. I slid the daunting blue chair out from under the round table. Sitting beside three other girls I found myself divergent. They each wore some version of a vivid floral top and boot-cut jeans. I heeded that my Boyz N The Hood graphic tee clashed with their feminine expectations of me. Despite sealed lips, their eyes undoubtedly labeled me as strange. I escaped math class scurrying to the bathroom, attempting to wipe the lingering scowl off my face, but I was interrupted.

“Why are you in the girls’ bathroom dressed like a boy?” a classmate uttered.

Such a compelling remark from someone who’s dressed identically to the girls in the hallway. What makes her mainstream outfit any different from mine? If they’re made of the same material why do I feel shunned for my appearance?

I found myself asking these same questions as I conclude my adolescence. Wondering if I should appeal to societal norms by expressing my external femininity. I never recognized the connection between my Rubik’s cube and my wardrobe. A scrambled cube is unique, each puzzle piece forming together; creating an intricate arrangement, similar to individuals. Humanity confines women into a bubble of tight and revealing clothing. Emerging entirely myself is unlike society’s conventions which are grounded in my juvenile brain. Do I conquer the dull crimson doors of Bangor High by embracing my masculine appearance or do I face the judgment beyond them? I am drawn to clothes made for men but not to the traditional qualities of a man. Like a costume, my clothes shield me to defy the misogyny that coincides with my existence. How do I embrace my femininity with my tomboy outfit?

I am a woman despite my masculine appearance. I will continue to embrace my femininity through my inner self rather than my wardrobe. I am reluctant to be consumed by the notion that masculinity accompanies the traditional qualities of a man and will learn to strip it of its male connotation. I will defy socially constructed masculinity and femininity because I determine the definition of my womanhood. My masculine appearance does not make me a man but rather it enhances my uniqueness. All of my intricate characteristics arrange into a puzzle. Whether I can ever fully grasp the idea of my gender expression is unknown. Until then, I will continue to carry the cube with me and move pieces of both puzzles until they’re solved.