‘Boy #3’ reminds us about the real tensions inherent in dysphoria and self-representation

Boy #3

Comic, Kelly Kwang, okaykellyk.com

I swear to God or the universe or whatever else: this Kelly Kwang person must have a direct line to my heart and brain. Everything they create makes me feel seen! I fall in love instantly each time I encounter one of their works.

My experience of Boy #3 is no different. Kwang writes about identity and creating new versions of yourself as time goes on. I know this state of perpetual flux all too well. For instance, I shaved my head (again…) last August, and now my hair is officially back at haircut length. This means, of course, that I’m spending way too much time thinking about gender presentation and confirmation vis a vis the mop up top. Kwang takes it further. Throughout Boy #3, the narrator and protagonist, presumably a stand-in for the creator, cycles through phases decked out in different character designs and concepts — in a maid outfit, as a cute orc boy, or maybe a vampire. These shifts through cute designs are a treat, and made even juicier by the more sober (though still funny) tone of the text that accompanies.

No matter what the decision is for Kwang (and for me and my haircut…) a line across the soft transparent back cover reminds us all about the real tensions inherent in dysphoria and self-representation: “how i see myself is not who i am.” Indeed, sometimes a look is just a look, a haircut is just a haircut, and the only person most of us will never see the way we see others is ourself. The pressure to share and decorate our bodies as a means of explaining ourselves just can’t ever live up to every aspect of our- selves. It would be absurd to let it.