You must work in an art museum
I get that comment a lot.
People see the floral skirts, silver shoes, lace necklaces, and rhinestone spider pins and think they know who I am. And they rarely think biology nerd. The way I dress has a stronger visual fit in the world of paintings and sculptures than it does in specimen jars and skulls, but here I am – collection of insects and all.
One more than one occasion the naturalists clad in khaki vests and hiking boots have scoffed at how I look. They see pink and silk and lipstick and assume that I can’t be “one of them.” They initially doubt my experience and knowledge based on my appearance, but it doesn’t take them long to realize they were wrong.
I will always be the person who adds dangly earrings to the ensemble of baseball cap on my head and handkerchief around my neck when working in the field. I will always be the person who shows up to give a briefing to park rangers wearing a piece of statement jewelry. I will always be the person who waxes poetic about slime mold while dressed in a tulle skirt. I will always be that person because I will always be me.
I was fortunate enough to grow up under an umbrella of feminism that made it clear that I had the power to chose who I would be and where my passions would be found. Those passions may sometimes seem quite polar (florals and fossils, ballet flats and bumblebees), but they are equally mine and equally me. So when I wear a dress to dissect a squid, in my own small way I’m asserting my convictions and faith in feminism. I’m happily refusing to be placed into a box of preconceived expectations based on how I look and what I do. My fashion choices coupled with the other passions of my life alert the world to pay attention, look closer, and be ready to be astonished. I will always be more, so much more, than you first expected.