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.
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.
I don’t have a chance, but I am honored to be a finalist for Glamour Boutique‘s annual Glamour Girl contest. All finalists were invited to submit a 30 second video and I wanted to share this amazing video that my friend Marci made. The song, of course, is by Madonna.
The winners are supposed to be announced this weekend, so fingers crossed!
I wanted to share some behind the scenes shot from my photo shoot for En Femme‘s spring and summer line that I did earlier this month. Please note they were taken with an iPhone without the normal touch ups that Shannonlee does.
And! Since they are behind the scenes and taken between shots, please forgive me if I look a little distracted… or tired. 🙂