I remember how the clothes in my closet felt slightly foreign when my roommate used an eyebrow trimmer to give me my gender-affirming buzzcut last year, shortly before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

Although I’d already started accumulating my growing collection of button-down shirts, it was a comfortably strange feeling to feel more in my skin; to stand straighter so that my shoulders could align with the collar, rather than holding a slouch that would get lost in a mane of curls.

This was also a time I wasn’t in the best mental headspace, so it was a weird dissociation to feel this slight comfort with the simultaneous discomfort of living. But after years of denial, I slowly started confronting my existence, and learned how to embrace the comfort more, rather than pushing it away.

Everyday I would take a photo to separate it from the last — a different shirt marked a different day, and I became a bit more real to myself in contrast to the hologram I thought I was. I got closer to recognizing the person in the mirror, and didn’t wince as hard as I used to.

In short, button down shirts, and the buzzcut that grew out unruly, made me a reality during a year that felt like an illusion.

Originally published on Pixstory by Ragi Gupta.

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