Androgyny pt 7 – In my skin

Androgyny pt 7 – In my skin

I’ve had to sketch my left hand quite a few times in my life…why is this an art school’s favorite exercise? My first observation whilst doing this was that I have my fathers hands…veiny brown stubs adept at any work requiring steadiness. This was adding itself to the growing body of evidence that I don’t quite fit where I ought to have fit. I have a case of the disappearing boobies, my father’s hands, insanely detailed fascinations with women and a very deep sensitivity to their needs. Hmm..? I’ve explored many aspects of myself trying to gain a full rounded understanding of all my roots, and two stories come to mind.

I’d borrowed my mother’s grey Timberlands but loosened the laces, the way Method Man wore his. This, with a black hoodie and sweatpants. I put my foot up on the bus seat and leaned against the window closing my eye. I was traveling with the women’s basketball team to some town outside of Boston and it was going to be at least 2 hours until we were there. I posed for most of that time. The girls were watching. Beaming..inside.

I looked in the mirror, and thought wow, now this is sensible..I don’t even look like I have any make-up on. Nat had gifted me with a personal makeup coaching session, where I’d learned how to apply make-up for daytime and night-time looks. I could decide how I wanted my face to look, and having that power made experimentation easy because I knew what I was doing. This was a good start. Beaming…inside.

Along the way and after other experiments I’ve resolved that the expression of neither of these exclusively feels good. Men’s clothing make me feel better inside my skin but it should be just so that my female definition is still evident. Make-up is mostly useless and dresses and skirts feel like jail, allowing limited expression. I think Maya Angelou’s quote on personal style/comfort does the best at explaining it.

“If I feel good inside my skin and clothes, I am thus free to allow my body its sway, its natural grace, its natural gesture.”

– Janberry


This is the second to last article in this series. Thank you to everyone who has read and commented, though privately.

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Androgyny pt 6 – Him

Androgyny pt 6 – Him

I always refer to Yadah as the first man. He treated me with such tenderness, and made me feel safe..adored, easing me into an understanding of the spiritual dance between masculine and feminine. He was barebacked, and seemed very much at home without a shirt. His muscles twitched with even small shifts in his stance. He was brown, almost golden, as his complexion reflected so much of the sun that his skin itself shone. With his tanned locks, I’d imagined that this is what they called ‘sun-kissed’. I laid in the hammock and dozed off but the intensified aroma woke me up some time later. As my eyes opened, Yadah instinctively turned around, offering me something to drink. He dug into the cooler, pulled out a beastly cold LLB, popped the top, placed a straw in it’s mouth, and then apologised for having no napkins before handing it to me. Before I could get halfway through my drink, the need to pee urged me out of the hammock. My heart rate sped up, in tandem with my level of vulnerability, as I tapped Yadah on his shoulder and told him. He brought along tissue paper, and held my hand as we descended a slight embankment into a patch of the forest where I would be hidden from view. Before leaving me, he explained that he would be out of sight but that he would hear me when I called. I peed, and then called out to him. He led us out, after washing my hands with water he had brought along. When we returned, the soup was finished, and he helped me into the hammock, washed my feet from the trek and handed me a bowl of soup in a calabash bowl, carefully swaddled by a cut fig leaf.

Yadah left me with a lifetime of energy to contemplate and be embraced by. I would, from thereon use him as a base to question, explore and understand my response to men. 

Three years after Yadah, I would find myself sitting in pre-marital counselling talking about my feelings for my husband-to-be, and for men in general. We were engaged and I should have told him…that my problem wasn’t the love that he gave, but with the love that I could not return. I wouldn’t understand it then, but we were too similar in our intentions and desires. – Janberry

Androgyny pt 4 – I see you

Androgyny pt 4 – I see you

As he turned into the kitchen, he looked at me, then squinted his eyes, “Why do you look so much like a damn boy?” Miss J turned around and said, to no-one in particular, and to my defense, “She’s handsome.” in her rich and wise cadence.


“Janessa, you’re charming, suave, slick and successful.” It all came out so quickly. I barely had time to take it all in. We both seemed shocked; me at the contentment the description gave me and she at the confession itself.


“I wish I could take a million photographs of you so you could see yourself.” This she said, whilst holding my phone taking what had already seemed like one thousand pictures. “You’re hard and soft..it’s beautiful.”


Like Neytiri and Jake in the movie, Avatar, I see my inner conflicts in both of their hearts, but Jake’s courage won Neytiri over, until she finally saw him.

“I see you..” – being invisible for most of my life, those are the three loveliest words I’ve ever been told, moreso  than ‘I love you’ because to love me, you have to first see me.

– Janberry

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I think the hardest thing for me about deciding to do the Androgyny series is the risk of being misunderstood, even still. I grew up on a base of Christ-centred religions. I was born into Catholicism, but later adopted, on my own terms, Rastafarianism and then Christianity in its less institutional form. Christianity most ably drifts from relativism, and what I’ve observed is that we can invalidate the essence of ourselves through the absolutism that religion tends to encourage. We can overcomplicate our understanding of ourselves: our persona, personhood and personality..our very being by trying to subsume the singular, ourselves, into the plural and the familiar. The truth that we are all alike make our differences seem more false. I don’t see or experience the world the way you do, but still, I’m just like you. Find balance in that, because maybe, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. In order for you to be you, I have to be me.

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