One theme that has been firmly established in the shoujo manga canon is gender bending. Executed with the same finesse with which Neo dogded Agent Smith's speeding bullets in that iconic scene from the Matrix, these resourceful heroines (for it is most often a girl posing as a boy) navigate the stormy waters of a male dominated environment with their androgynous looks, incredibly perky attitude, and a few other important details. For your convenience, especially for those who are planning to enroll in an all male high school and are of the XX chromosomed sex, I have compiled the following checklist for your perusal.
ITEMS NEEDED FOR SUCCESS AT GENDER BENDING:
1) ACE Bandages: Fleshy in color and fastened with those evil-looking metal prong thingies, these stretchy pieces of synthetic material are surprisingly constricting when wrapped at maximum tightness around Thelma and Louise (the mammographical sisters). You won't be able to breathe, but by golly, you'll be as flat as a board!
2) Birth Control Pills: These little hormone cocktails will help to elongate your menstrual cycle so that you'll only have to worry about your period every six months, maybe even a year! You run the risk of making your breasts grow as well, but you can always buy more ACE bandages.
3) Allergy to Chlorine: A situation will arise where swimming is unavoidable...unless you have a doctor's note saying that chlorine is a no-no. Find a family member (or an MD of questionable moral values) to fake this note for you, and you'll be safe.
4) Loose, Voluminous Clothing: Though you may be somewhat slender in build, there are just some basic differences between men and women that can't be changed. Wear big, baggy clothes so you can hide that universal womanly characteristic that is your HIPS/ASS.
5) Short, Nondescript Bowl Cut: You should take before and after pictures. Seriously. The change is remarkable. With your long hair, you are a very pretty girl, with a round face, no adam's apple, and no defined jawline. However, once you cut your hair short, you will automatically be transformed. This drastic hair cut will completely, utterly and UNQUESTIONABLY disguise the fact that you have significantly higher amounts of estrogen rather than testosterone in your body.
6) Athletic Talent: This is absolutely imperative for a smooth transition into the all male environment as well as a sure-fire way to establish your harem. Track and field, soccer, baseball, or even something as obscure as loogie hacking is your key into a group of extremely attractive alpha males, of which three will become enamoured of you, and one will become your significant other for life.
7) Clumsiness: This is necessary to establish a protector/protectee relationship between yourself and the object of your desire (which is a member of your now established harem if you are following this checklist in order). You sleepwalk, run into doors, eat messily, trip over nothing and fall off cliffs while he urges you back to bed, scolds you for not paying attention while walking, wipes the rice off your face, catches you with one arm as you're falling, and leaps after you with arms outstretched as you careen down the side of the mountain, eventually catching hold of you and pulling you closer to him. This will eventually become an ingrained habit, and he won't want to do anything else except watch out for you.
8) A Healthy Amount of Naivete/Being Incredibly Dense: Ah, the one quality that both endears and frustrates the alpha male in pursuit, as well as all the rabid fans who all recognize the fact that you are in love with the guy, and the guy is in love with you...but for some reason, you never pick up on the bajillion hints/implications/outright confessions that are scattered throughout the 40 volume plot line.
Train hard, o aspirers to gender bender success. Once you reach step 8, I guarantee that you'll have all the emotional anguish, angst, and boy trouble that you could ever wish for.
PS: Photo courtesy of SuperStock.