This past weekend Shannonlee did a photo shoot in the beautiful Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis. I have always wanted to do a shoot there and thankfully the weather cooperated, but not much else did 🙂
Shannonlee’s camera was being silly so most of the pictures we took were on an iPhone. My allergies decided to kick in and my eyes watered and smudged my makeup. The sun shone right into my eyes and the squinting spoiled a few shots.
But despite all these small things, it was a wonderful day. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself and I need some perspective that my life is really a blessing. I was thankful for the reminder that I am fortunate in many ways, in both of my genders, and I should be more grateful.
I’d like to share a few pictures from that day before Shannonlee works her magic and adjusts things like lighting and cropping. I can’t wait to see the final pictures.
When I was growing up, I was fascinated and intrigued by the vast options of girl clothes. It was all so exciting compared to the clothes that were in my closet and dresser. It seemed like there was an endless variety of shoes. Girls could wear Mary Janes, saddle shoes, pumps, heels, ballet flats, wedges, and of course, stilettos. Girls could wear thongs, tangas, boyshorts, bikinis… the list goes ever on.
I was stuck with such boring clothes. Many of us wonder why we are who we are, and although this isn’t a question that can really be answered I suspect this has a lot to do with who I am.
Patterns were another fascination to me. I had striped shirts… and that was about it. I always loved hounds tooth, polka dots, and gingham patterns. They have always seemed to feminine to me. For my last photo shoot I wore a super cute red gingham pattern dress that I absolutely love and I hope you like it too!
Some things are popular for what seems to be a short period of time, and some things seem to be around forever or constantly making a return. I am not a fan of (most) high-low dresses or maxi dresses but they always seem to be fashionable. I have always love peplum dresses and tops but those seem to be out of favor.
Of course, everything is in fashion if you honestly don’t care about what others think. 🙂
Last summer I noticed a trend of dresses that had a mesh or pattern overlay over a simple black dress. I loved this look and I was surprised and a little disappointed that it was super popular for what seemed to be a very short time and then like many trends, went away. I picked out a dress that fit this style but I never wore it until recently. I decided to wear it at my last photo shoot and I’m glad I did, it’s super cute.
But somewhere along the way in my (sigh) journey I stopped caring. I cared less about blending in and embraced my height and the fact that I am transgender and everyone who sees me or interacts with me knows I am transgender. I am going to stand out, so I may as well wear the stilettos and the bright pink dress.
I have been doing more shopping online than I normally do. Again, a global pandemic can do that to you, but a dress kept popping up as a suggestion. I thought the dress was super cute but I thought I couldn’t pull it off as it was a little more revealing than what I normally wore.
But then I thought the hell with it and clicked “add to cart”.
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
When the pandemic hit and the little things and the big things were impacted, I looked at a lot of aspects to my life. I was reminded how important it as to support small, independent businesses that were affected by the shutdown. I realized I took meeting friends for dinner for granted. And of course, I realized just how important Hannah is to me.
I mean, I AM Hannah, and obviously we should be important to ourselves, but without having the option to get a makeover and spending the day en femme I was reminded how crucial it is to be me, to be all of me.
Being alive, being who we are, is a reason to celebrate. If you have accepted and embraced your gender identity you have accomplished something incredibly significant and special.
Yesterday I had a photo shoot with my friend and photographer of five years Shannonlee. There was no reason for the shoot. It wasn’t to review a dress or a shoe, it wasn’t for En Femme, it was just for fun (not to say shoots for reviews or for En Femme aren’t fun, they are, but you know what I mean). The theme of the shoot, if you will, was to wear a few dresses I have always wanted to wear. The location was the Stone Arch Bridge, one of my favorite places in the world.
Yesterday’s shoot featured several dresses that I never thought I would wear. Two of them had halter straps and one had straps about as thin as dental floss. The point is that my shoulders were as exposed as they could possibly be. A year ago I would have thought this would be impossible.
And I never felt more beautiful, confident, and powerful.
Here’s a bit of a preview of yesterday’s shoot. I hope you like them and I hope you all cast away your doubts and fears about what holds you back, in all aspects of your lives.
I did a lot of shopping under quarantine. I thought a lot about what I was going to do, and what I was going to wear once things returned back to normal. Of course, things haven’t returned back to normal and if they do, it probably won’t be for a long time.
One of the dresses I bought I thought of as my “out of lockdown” dress. Something that screamed dressed to kill and I found it at En Femme.
I’m tall. Tall enough where I am asked if I played basketball in high school.
As advantageous as my height would have been when it came to passing a basketball, I always felt my height was a disadvantage when it came to “passing”.
I’m used to being tall. I mean, it happened so gradually. It’s not like I shot up four inches overnight and had to get accustomed to being a new height. Wearing heels, though, that was an adjustment. I never had difficulty walking in heels. It came very easy for me, probably because I really really really wanted to get good at it so I practiced a lot as soon as I had a pair of heels to call my own.
Wearing stilettos at home is one thing, but there is nothing like the sound of heels clicking on a sidewalk. It’s the beautiful everyday music, the soundtrack of femininity. It’s my favorite song. I had longed for years to leave the house en femme, but I always felt too tall to pass, too tall to be a girl.
And then one day I got tired of being in my own house, I was tired of telling myself what I couldn’t do, so I put on a cute black skirt, black stockings, a brightly colored top, a cardigan… and black heels. I clicked my way down sidewalks and the corridors of shopping malls and I haven’t stopped.
I never feel taller in heels. I mean, I feel shorter when I take them off, but I don’t feel like I just stepped onto a ladder when I put them on. Yes, I have to crouch down a little when I look into certain mirrors, but it’s not like “wow, I’m tall”.
I opened the box like opening Christmas presents. I was entranced by the shoe, it’s beauty, it’s… majesty. This was unlike any heel I have ever worn before. I prayed to God they would fit. And thank God the fit and run true to size.
For the first time in my life, I stood up in a pair of heels and finally said “wow, I am really tall”. Six inch platforms will do that for you.
Of course, if you are looking at the picture you may wonder why in the world would need a heel like that. If you are wondering why anyone would need a heel like this, this heel is not for you.
But there are just as many thinking “OMG I need this”. If you think you need this, then you probably do need it. Well, maybe not need but you know what I mean.
How does the shoe feel? Well, it runs true to size, it’s properly balanced, the platform is smooth and it’s just as comfortable walking in them as it feels to stand in them.
But how does it feel to wear them? Honestly? I felt like a goddess. I felt powerful.
Some heels go with anything. Some inspire an outfit. These heels demand something daring, something provocative, something… sexy. God knows I love my leather (and fake leather) and it just seemed appropriate for thee heels. I almost went with fishnets stockings but I decided that the pattern would in a way complete with the criss-cross laces.
Will I wear these heels all the time? Of course not, they are probably the most impractical thing I own. But how they make me feel is indescribable. It is the truest way to embrace my height. If there is another pair of stilettos that screams confidence and demands heads to be turned better than these heels then I haven’t seen them.
These heels are not for the timid. They are not for the shy. They are not for those who want to blend in. This is for the girl who want to be seen, the girl who has confidence to burn.
Thank you to The Breast Form Store for helping me literally rise to new heights of confidence.
The very very first dress I remember wearing was a red dress with white polka dots. Of course, it belonged to my sister but I could never remember her wearing it.
Obviously I loved wearing the dress, and to this day polka dots instantly bring me back to that very special dress. The pattern represents femininity to me and there’s something classic and cute about them.
I was living on my own, I was in a relationship, and I was learning more about my gender identity.
I started to learn how to be an adult, learned what I wanted in a relationship, and how to walk in heels.
I learned my limits, and what I wanted. I learned what I wouldn’t settle for, and how to come to terms with being transgender.
I acknowledged what was holding me back, and whether or not those barriers could be overcome.
One of the most defining moments of my life came when I was driving home from work one summer evening. It was close to midnight, the world was still. It is moments like this that life or God or your inner voice speak to you. It’s up to you to listen.
Sometimes what you need to experience is a moment of clarity, a realization, or music. I had never heard this song on the radio before, and I’ve never heard it played again. If I didn’t own the CD I would almost believe that the song didn’t exist. But it did, thank God.
“Me”, written and performed by Paula Cole really summarized many of my feelings and thoughts that summer. I was not happy in the relationship and felt a little trapped. I was living out of state, and ending the relationship was a little more complicated than simply breaking up. I would need to move back to Minnesota, find a new job, and in a way, admit defeat, on some levels. When you are 20 you chalk up your victories and losses by relationships. My perspective is different these days.
In addition to being in a bad relationship, I couldn’t help but wonder where all of THIS was going. I would buy heels and a dress and then quickly purge in a seemingly endless circle. I knew this side of me wasn’t going away. But how was I going to live with it? Did I want to? Of course I did, but what was life going to be like?
I felt powerless in my relationship, where I lived, and in a way, powerless when it came to my gender identity. It was a difficult but important summer. It was humbling, too. I would buy a dress that wouldn’t fit (know your measurements, girls), look horrific in lipstick, and stumble in stilettos. I wanted to be beautiful but my confidence was lower than ever.
But that warm summer night my perspective changed. The things I wanted, like getting out of the relationship, returning to Minnesota… I could do these things. The only one stopping me was ME. The lyrics hit hard.
I am carrying my voice I am carrying my heart I am carrying my rhythm I am carrying my prayers But you can’t kill my spirit, it’s old and it is strong And like a mountain I’ll go on and on But when my wings are folded The brightly colored moth blends into the dirt into the ground
And it’s me who is my enemy Me who beats me up Me who makes the monsters Me who strips my confidence And it’s me who’s too weak And it’s me who’s too shy to ask for the thing I love And it’s me who’s too weak And it’s me who’s too shy to ask for the thing I love But I love
I am walking on the bridge I am over the water And I’m scared as hell But I know there’s something better Yes I know, yes I know, yes I know, yes I know
I bought the CD the next day and I still listen to this song. It still inspires me.
Having fully embraced who I am today, I am amazed at how much I have overcome and what I have done. I still know my limits, whether it is how long I can stay awake before I start to get really loopy, how many miles a day I can run, or what I am comfortable wearing. I know I don’t “pass” (and there’s no such thing) but I still don’t want to show the more traditionally masculine parts of my body.
So, dresses with thin spaghetti straps were out as they showed off my shoulders. My huge, manly shoulders.
And then the pandemic hit. Things we took for granted were gone, and my time out of the house en femme was gone. Before I go further, I want to recognize that many of what I am thinking, and feeling, and writing about is incredibly shallow and self-centered in comparison to how the pandemic has impacted others.
I would look through my wardrobe and get a little sad about not being able to hit the mall or visit a museum en femme (again, I own my shallowness). I would buy dresses and heels and wonder when I would wear them.
And then I saw a super cute dress. It was unlike what I usually wear… it wasn’t form fitting, a little longer than I normally wear… and the thinnest straps I’ve ever seen. I saw it, I loved it, and I wished I had the courage to wear it.
And then I bought it.
I promised myself that as soon as I could, I would wear this dress the next time I could go out en femme.
I’ve held myself back in my life so many times, and when I got tired of listening to that voice and would do the thing I was afraid of, I was always thrilled to do so. I also wondered why I stood in my own way for so long. It’s true, we are our own enemy sometimes.
I am so excited (and proud of myself) to show the photos Shannonlee and I took that day of the dress. The photo shoot was for a shoe review I did for The Breast Form Store but I couldn’t help but show off this dress… and my shoulders… and confidence.