Sometimes I feel like a man in a dress.
And it’s almost always because that’s how I feel like I look.
It takes an insane amount of courage (among other things) to go out into the real world en femme. To leave your home in full makeup and a cute dress takes an amount of bravery that is incomparable. If you’ve ever been out in the real world, then congratulations. I know how hard it was. If you aren’t there yet, then don’t be hard on yourself. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.
What I find difficult is leaving the house when I am still partially in male mode. At least when it comes to my face. If I am doing a photo shoot I will always book a makeup appointment for the day. On days like this I spend the morning getting my corset tightly cinched, my forms and pads in place, and getting dressed. I then leave the house and make my way to my appointment. I try to plan my morning so I don’t have to run any errands before my appointment, such as getting gas because I hate, hate, hate doing anything before my makeup is done. But sometimes it’s unavoidable. This past weekend I was on my way to my appointment when I had to use the ladies room. I didn’t think I could wait until I got to my appointment so I decided to run into a Starbucks.
I got there, parked, and sat in my car for a few minutes working up the courage to go in. At the time I thought looked cute (well, my outfit was cute) but my face was MALE. Like, full on MALE. I look SO MALE before I have my makeup done. Once my makeup is done and my face is contoured, my foundation is set, and my eyes have more drama than a soap opera I feel and look more femme. But before that my reflection shows a middle age man wearing a long black wig. It’s devastating, it’s heartbreaking, it’s… it’s a lot of things.
Please bear in mind that I don’t feel that way about my reflection when I am in boy mode. I don’t hate how I look in boy mode, not at all. But I don’t want to look like a boy when I am en femme.
It takes a lot of courage for me to go anywhere public when I am en femme before a makeup appointment. But I had to. I put on a mask to hide half of my face and strutted into Starbucks. The strut was a lie, I didn’t feel like strutting but sometimes you have to fake confidence. I popped into the restroom, cringed at my reflection, and bought a bottled water on my way out.
And that was that.
I went to my appointment, got my face done and was feeling about 500% cuter. Now that my makeup was done I could properly assess how I looked. And I felt like a man in a dress. Or more accurately, a man in a skirt. I rarely wear skirts. When I am en femme I am almost always rocking (or trying to rock) a cute (or sexy) dress. I feel confident, I feel beautiful in a dress. But a blouse/skirt combination? I rarely feel cute. I felt the top I was wearing made me look too mannish. It wasn’t really cut in a flattering, feminine way despite the small ruffles adorning it. I felt like I was wearing a simple tank top, which is essentially what it was. In my head the outfit looked cute but on me? Ehhhh. Despite my stilettos, the skirt, fake eyelashes, my amazingly realistic breast forms, and my bright red lipstick, I felt like a man in a skirt.
Isn’t that funny (and heartbreaking)? My makeup, my heels, my skirt… almost none of that mattered compared to how I FELT. Shannonlee said I looked cute. I posted the outfit on Twitter to get some feedback and I had some nice comments. But none of that mattered. I didn’t feel cute and nothing would change that.
This feeling lingered with me for the entire day. No matter what I wore, no matter how cute or sexy or feminine my outfits were I couldn’t shake the feeling. People can be cruel to our community, but we can be cruel to ourselves.
Dysphoria is a real thing and it can hit us from out of nowhere. Most of the time I like how I look or at least my confidence is high enough to overpower any negative thought or comment but no one is immune to the seemingly out of the blue voice of not being cute enough.
So the question is what do we do when this happens? You kind of have to power through it. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. Just understand that these negative thoughts will happen and will always catch you off guard. Sometimes I can bounce back from these thoughts and feeling. When I changed from the aforementioned outfit into a super femme dress, well, I felt cuter, although the dysphoria was still lingering. Sometimes these thoughts can’t be shaken off when we are en femme. And that, well, that sucks. You look forward to getting dolled up and spending the day en femme and WHAM! Dysphoria. It’s like looking forward to a road trip and getting four flat tires. Or the heel of a stiletto snapping off in midstride.
It’s hard not to, but you really can’t let it dull your sparkle. If you can’t bounce back from this while you are en femme, it’s okay. Dysphoria doesn’t really MEAN anything. It doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful or your outfit isn’t cute. It’s just a small, cruel voice or a negative emotion that we are paying attention to when we shouldn’t. We can choose what or who we listen to, but I do know (I promise) that this is easier said than done. If these thoughts, this voice lingers for the day until you go back to male mode, don’t let it discourage you from your next time out en femme. More than likely you will feel cuter the next time. You can almost always chalk up dysphoria to just having an off day. I mean, we have bad days at work but we still show up the next day, right?
But I do get this is all easier in thought than it is in practice. I felt not-cute for most of the day, and that emotion stuck with me even after I went back into boy mode. Shannonlee sent over some test shots later that evening and the photos looked a zillion times better than dysphoria said they were. My thoughts weren’t really based on anything tangible or anything real. I was having an off morning, not every outfit looks cute on everyone.
I feel better about the day now than I ever did during the day itself. My confidence took a severe and lengthy beating that day. I was feeling frustrated by, well, everything that day until I realized (much later) that although the outfit probably wasn’t right for me, most of my negativity was all coming from dysphoria.
And like having bad day at work, we wake up the next morning and we tell ourselves that today will be better. And it almost always is.