Until things start shifting, we will always live in a binary world when it comes to gender. This is for boys, that is for girls, boys wear blue, girls wear pink.
I hate it.
Even for a community such as ours (and I like to think of the LGBTQ+ community as enlightened when it comes to gender roles), it’s not uncommon for us to also think in the binary, even if it’s unintentionally. Yes, we wear what we want. We wear panties, skirts, eyeliner… whatever we want. Many of us have moved beyond the collective thought that makeup or cute undies are for girls and that boys can’t wear nail polish.
But many of us, myself included, want to, or have wanted desperately to pass. We want to look so femme that we want others to think we are “real” women. We want the slim hands, the heart-shaped face, or any feature that we think that a “real” girl has. We fret over our size 13 shoe size, our square jaw, our deep voice.
Of course, I don’t believe in passing anymore. I do not think there is a standard we must meet in order to be a girl, to be feminine, to be beautiful.
But I get it. I really, really do.
If you were to ask what a typical guy is like, what masculinity looks like, you might hear that a guy is anything from having a muscular build, to someone who drinks beer and watches football, someone who is quick to anger or doesn’t ask for directions when they are lost… just watch a few hours of sitcoms and you’ll get an idea as to what many people think a stereotypical guy (and in most cases, a girl) is like.
When I look in the mirror (in guy mode), I see a pretty strong jawline, wide shoulders, decent biceps, giant hands… and I’m tall. I look “masculine”. I check a lot of the boxes that people generally associate with being male.
And I like how I look. I’m comfortable with who I am, I think I am in good shape for my age, and I see how the hours each week over the span of ten years at the gym have paid off.
I know I look masculine. I know that I don’t look like someone who would identify as transgender or bi-gender. I don’t have that David Bowie androgynous look. I don’t look like a guy that has an amazing collection of fabulous heels. Who I am surprises most people when I have come out to them.
When I step across the lines of gender binary, I begin the transformation from masculine to what I hope is femininity. And sometimes (most of the time), it is a battle. It’s a battle on two fronts. One is the physical side. How do I get my broad shoulders into this cute dress? How can I contour enough to reshape this blocky chin into something more oval?
The real battle is the psychological one. As I said, when I look in the mirror I see a masculine reflection. I see a face that needs to shave, I see bags under my eyes from not getting enough sleep… and I wonder how on Earth am I going to make THIS into a cute girl?
I feel sorry for my makeup artists. At least I tip well.
How we think and feel takes more effort than anything we need to do when it comes to “becoming her”. When I am feeling, and looking, more masculine when I would like, I will respond (and in a way, fight back) by what I wear. When I have plans to go out en femme, it’s not uncommon for me to have my outfit picked out days (weeks) in advance. But it’s pretty normal for me to switch my outfit that day to something else depending on my mood.
Sometimes I change my outfit because of the weather, sometimes I change it because I picked up a new dress, sometimes I change it because I am in a really good mood and I want to wear something cuter or flirtier.
But if I change my outfit, it’s usually into something more… feminine than what I had planned. A dress is pretty feminine in it of itself, but let’s face it, some dresses are more feminine than others.
I love pink, I love floral patterns, I love little details of bows and lace. Of course, I also love leather and looking badass, but that’s a topic for another day.
I had a revelation the other day that I like to look, and dress, as feminine as possible to be in equal contrast to my masculinity. Whether I am wearing a dress shirt or a dress, my shoulders aren’t going anywhere. I can wear thigh and hip pads, I can wear breast forms, I can contour my face, but I can’t do anything about my frame and hands.
At least not physically.
A pink dress makes me feel (and look) more femme than my shoulders make me feel masculine. Polka dots, stilettos, bright, red glossy lipstick, winged eyeliner sharp enough to pop a balloon… femme me up, baby. This same thinking carries over to my underdressing, too. If I am feeling particularly “male” I’ll wear pink panties, or something with lace or bows… something more girly than what I might have normally picked out for the day.
This all sounds like I am…conflicted about my gender. I am not. I am not trying to suppress one gender identity with another. What I do is I dress more femme when I want to feel femme, but in reality I am feeling more… male.
And it works.
I can’t tell you how many times I woke up excited about a day en femme but the first reflection of the morning is a tired man who needs a shave and several cups of coffee. But as the morning goes by, my face becomes smoother, lips brighter, my outfit becomes waaay cuter… and my mood begins to slowly and gradually shifts.
Sometimes this is easy, sometimes it’s not. What usually helps when I need a bit of a boost is a cuter outfit. More colors, more flowers, more lace… more anything. Like that cup of coffee I need in the morning, sometimes I need an espresso shot to give myself that extra kick. When I am looking super femme, it’s probably because I was feeling super masculine that day.
At least at first.
What helps you feel femme?
5 thoughts on “Super Femme”
What a well written and thought out piece of writing. I always enjoy
Your thoughtful. Observations. I have experienced the same feelings. Primarily I find myself pretty inadequate in doing a real good job of make-up. However due to a light complexion an little beard Ivan do an adequate job for going out and about. Lots of love. Pippin
Long fake eyelashes, earrings and lipstick make me feel more femme than anything else. There are even times I’ll have a wig cap on and everything else done. Then just before I put on a wig I’ll look in the mirror and think I could maybe even go out like this! Not to brag but I seem to be pretty good with makeup. Then I put the finishing touch on; the wig and WOW! Who is that?! I want to show the world what I really look like. A woman. Guy side is tolerable but not my first choice. I also get annoyed when i do good at work and someone says “You’re the man!” I don’t say anything most times because I know they mean well. But sometimes I say ‘For now I am. That could change.’ They laugh. When I am dressed in public and someone says excuse me miss. I feel at peace.
Well written and gorgeous stunning beautiful dresses and makeup and this day in age -awesome stores that made us beautiful and allure for sexy bras and lingerie
Hannah, These thoughts are so very moving. I am listening to Anita Baker as I read your essay and I am moved to tears by thinking about your expression of ‘our’ quest to achieve a sense of who that fleeting being is inside us. There are so many who, I am sure, feel the same way. Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences in your blog.
I love this! You mention a few things I think are important here… first, if passing is the main thing we are focused on, we will probably fail. It’s great to pass, but I don’t think I’d be having as much fun if that’s all that mattered to me.
Second, your look can often be an inverse relation to how you feel. That ultra feminine dress, those sky high heels, those clothes that hug your breastforms and hip pads just the right way… go such a long way to negating feeling super masculine. I don’t think I’m at that point yet, but I could totally see myself swapping out a cute outfit for one that is more feminine if I was feeling particularly drab that day.
Finally, to be honest, passing or not passing, femme or masculine, you have NAILED what works for Hannah, and look absolutely astonishing doing it! And I think that’s what’s most important… you’ve found what works well for you, and you OWN IT!!!! Rather than looking like the best woman, or best guy you can be, you look like the best YOU!!!!
I really want to find that with Alicia someday, though to be honest, I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen so far!