There is a Hindu proverb that states “There is birth and death, everything in between is maintenance.”
And yes, this is still a website dedicated to presenting en femme.
But this really kind of nails what life is all about, isn’t it? I think this is especially true for many of us. Although I am not en femme 24/7, there are things that I do daily (such as exfoliating my face for better skin and hitting the gym), weekly (removing alllllll body hair), every other week (eyebrow threading), and so on, that contribute to my femme presentation.
However, I do enjoy the benefits of these things outside of my femme appearance. I HATE body hair regardless of my gender presentation. I like staying in shape. I like having clear skin.
Doing these steps make it a little easier when I am getting dolled up. Well, maybe not easier but it takes a little less time. Getting dressed up doesn’t take AS long if I’ve been keeping up on my shaving, for example.
The morning of a day out en femme is a process. Sisyphus has to push that stupid rock up a hill every damn day and although this sounds dramatic it’s not much different. Taking this lump of a hairy middle aged man body into something even remotely cute seems impossible.
But like anything else, if you want SOMETHING to change you have to work at it. The practical, emotional, and mental processes has to begin. I pour a cup of coffee, put on a little Taylor Swift, and get started.
Over the course of an hour I shave my face (having shaved my legs and everything else the night before), tuck, cinch my corset, put on my thigh pads, fasten my stockings, hook my bra, apply my breast forms, zip up my dress, clip on my earrings, clasp my necklace, slip in (or strap into) my heels, and fuss with my wig.
Once all of that is done, I exhale and realize that I did the best I could and that I have to trust my makeup artist to do the rest.
And really, if I look even a LITTLE femme it’s because of the really, REALLY, talented makeup artist that I see.
Another hour passes, another $80 (plus a well earned tip) later, and I’m done. I look and feel as femme as I possibly can.
If I have a photo shoot scheduled, it’s my photographer’s turn to decide on angle, filter, lighting, and whatever other magic she needs to cast to take a photo of me at my most feminine.
This is a LOT of work. Not only for me but for these two incredibly talented artists. It takes a village, after all.
Eventually a picture of alllll this effort gets posted to social media or my website and I open myself up to whatever the internet thinks.
A photo can create indifference or retweets or likes. Comments cover everything from “nice dress, SIR” to “you are a goddess” and everything in-between.
Sometimes a commentor will send an email or message me privately. These communications range from the incredibly lazy and unoriginal (“hi” or “hey”) to the transphobic to blatantly and overtly sexual to compliments.
Before we go annnnny further I would like to make it clear that none of what I write, least of all this post, is not some veiled brag about how beautiful or whatever people think I am. I get some very nice compliments AND I also get, well, the opposite comments that girls like us tend to receive. Trust me, the internet keeps me very humble.
I try to respond to all my emails and direct messages, even if it takes a week (or longer) for me to get reply. When I do respond I try my best to express gratitude for a compliment AND do it in a way that doesn’t suggest that I am, well, INTERESTED in them.
If I get a message that is along the lines of “you are beautiful” my typical response is “thank you! I try my best!”.
Which is true! I do try my best. This IS the best I can do with what I have.
If I get a response after that it’s usually something like “well, you don’t have to try very hard ;)”.
Which is, well, it’s nice. Really.
Buuuut the first thing that I think of when I see a message like that is how much work goes into all of this. Alllll the work that you don’t see. Getting to the gym at 6am every day before work, shopping for a dress that fits everywhere a dress needs to fit, hair removal including waxing and eyebrow threading, and a zillion other things.
The reality is that I do try very, very hard to look the way I do. I LIKE how I look. I like seeing all the work I do pay off. As soon as I post this I am off to the gym yet again. I’ll do my best to not sneak any Halloween candy this weekend. I’ll do my skincare routine before I go to bed no matter how tired I am.
I know a lot of us look at our transformations (whether it is a change that we worked at for years or the daily process of going from HIM to HER) as an artform. It is. Makeovers are artistry. Photographer is artistry. We are creating ourselves, regardless of our gender identity, every single day. Not only on a physical level but also on a emotional and intellectual level as well.
Creation takes ambition and stubbornness and dedication. THIS side of us takes time, patience, and money.
Whatever we are trying to do, whether learning to walk in high heels to becoming a world class pastry chef requires making mistakes. Failure is part of success, after all.
If you’re reading this and you are like me, I know how much work and discipline this side of us takes. Not only on a practical level but also on an emotional and mental level. Walking in five inch stilettos on an icy sidewalk isn’t easy but what’s even harder is dealing with dysphoria and living in a world where people hate girls like us.
You are all beautiful. We are all trying our very best.