The Student News Site of Huntington Beach High School

It’s Just a Skirt

"An excerpt of my life in a world where many feel like they have to hide their true selves for safety and security. I hope to set an example and inspire others to be their most authentic selves and live unapologetically. I am not a professional writer, and literature is not at the top of my list of hobbies, but it was really interesting to utilize a new form of self-expression. It also sparked some interest in creative writing, which I'm considering in the future."

May 18, 2023


Image of Grandma Che. (Photography by: Kham Che)

I’ve always felt protected in the hands of my grandmother, Grandma Net, and I knew I could trust her with anything. Every chance I get to be with her I take it, and we spend the whole day together, thrifting, eating, and just catching up on life. This woman has always been a strong support system for me ever since the day I was born, watching over me while I was stuck in an incubator with Jaundice and everyone was partying at home. As I grew older, she would also be there for me, taking me to school and picking me up every single Wednesday, taking me out to eat, and visiting different places. She always has my back, even with the little things. For example, recently, I left my wallet at a restaurant after dinner. I realized it once I was already home.

I told my dad about it, and he said we’ll pick it up another day since it was already late. Once I told my grandma, she said “Screw that!” and drove to my house to take me to the restaurant to pick up my wallet. Despite all the support and unconditional love she’s given me, I still felt like I couldn’t show her my true self. Intrusive thoughts started to fill my mind, that she wouldn’t understand it because of her age, or she would disown me if her view of me changed. I’ve always been her “little man,” and didn’t want to hurt her feelings or betray all that she’s done for me. However, all that changed after we talked long about being judged by others and not caring what people think or say. That conversation inspired me to show her who I really am.

My grandma has always loved thrifting. Since I was able to walk, she took me to the thrift store. We shopped for toys, clothes, furniture, and anything I set my eyes on, and she bought it for me. So much so that she even got in a fight over something I wanted when someone else tried to buy it. On one of our thrift days, we went to Saver’s, and I decided to look through the women’s section to see if anything caught my eye. I’ve always experimented with clothing and didn’t consider clothing to specifically be for boys or girls, besides the sizing. Because of this, I had no problem looking through the aisles, catching a few stares as if I wasn’t in the right section. A few minutes go by and she passes me by, saying “Honey, this is the women’s section, the Men’s are over there,” and she points to the men’s clothing. I tell her that I’m shopping for a friend, and she moves on. Little did she know, it was a lie, and I was shopping for myself. I make it to the skirt section and start digging through them. I find a pleated brown skirt that I liked, and it even fit me perfectly, so I knew I couldn’t miss the chance to get it. I grabbed it and kept on looking. Once we finish, she offers to pay, and I can’t decline.

We’re scanning our clothes, and she picks up the skirt, confused. I tell her it’s for my friend, and we scan it and pay for it. Telling her this lie made me feel so ugly deep inside, confused why I couldn’t just tell her the truth and why I couldn’t be myself around the person who I trust the most. On the drive home, she reveals a plan to go out to one of my favorite places, Los Angeles, for a day of shopping and walking around. I say yes excitedly, and forget about all the stress.

As I’m planning for our LA trip, I look through my closet for clothes to wear. Fashion and clothing are something I’ve always utilized to express myself, experimenting with different styles and different pieces to reflect what I’m feeling that day. Not only does fashion reflect my feelings, but also my gender identity. Being non-binary and gender-fluid, the gender norms for clothing never stuck with me. At a young age, I loved trying things deemed as “feminine.” This sense of normalcy always confused me when stepping back into reality, where many people still considered these norms to be true. Using fashion as a way to break those norms, as well as using it to align with my identity gave me extreme gender euphoria, and always felt so comforting to me. As I’m looking through my wardrobe, I see the skirt I bought with my grandma. I try on different things to wear it with, and I complete the outfit. I look at myself in the mirror and feel extreme joy with how everything looks on me. It doesn’t last long, however, and I start to think about what my grandma would do once she saw me. I quickly look through my closet for other things to wear, feeling scared and anxious that I’m not able to be myself.

This feeling is suffocating, the fact that I have to hide from my own family, who is supposed to protect me and always be there for me no matter what. Then I stopped. I realize that all this stress is for nothing, and I remember her words, that I should just be myself, no matter what anyone else thinks of it. I stop looking for an alternative and settle on the outfit I put on. Besides, if I could be the best version of myself and show myself off, why wouldn’t I? I’d rather take the chance to change than stay idle in fear. I feel excited but nervous that I get to be myself but at the cost of being judged by the person I idolize.

As I’m walking to the car, I feel anxious but confident at the same time. Whenever I wear something I truly like, It’s always empowering, and I feel like I can do anything. I reach for the car door and greet my grandma. She doesn’t notice it at first, and then I tell her about the skirt. In my head, I already planned all the possible situations, so I can be prepared for anything. I told her that I didn’t buy the skirt for my friend, but I bought it for myself. She looks me up and down, pauses for a moment, then tells me I look amazing. This simple phrase made my entire world. Knowing that all the stress was for nothing felt extremely relieving, and I felt like I was moving somewhere in my life. She proceeded to tell me how she’s happy to see me be myself around her and feels sorry that I ever had to feel scared to do so. We speed off to Los Angeles and have fun, just like we were intended to. She and others kept complimenting me that day, and I’m glad I stood up for myself that day and decided to step out of my comfort zone.

Although this was a huge stepping stone of progress in me being my true self, I still have lots of work to do. With the rest of my family, as well as the rest of the world, I still have yet to see myself show off my true colors, and it’s no easy task. I still find myself with suffocating feelings, hiding from my family and I’m still not comfortable showing myself to. I realize this, and I’m being more patient and loving to myself, instead of getting anxious and scared. I couldn’t have done this alone, either. With the help of my Grandma, as well as my beautiful and inspiring friends, I’m able to move along and realize that it takes time. Not only does the rest of the world need time to see me for how I truly am, but so do I. I’m constantly changing and growing, discovering new things about myself every day, and experiencing gender in different ways constantly. My grandma has helped me realize that I don’t owe it to anyone to explain myself or to abide by their norms, but instead create my own. Because after all, at the end of the day, it is just a skirt.

Kham Che (He/they), a Huntington Beach High School (HBHS) senior, is trying to figure out who they are and where they fall in this world. They love all things art, from literature, music, photography, digital, and fashion. They believe that art is an outlet in which everyone can express themselves and even learn more about themselves, whether they consider themselves creative or not.

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