When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? Is your answer influenced by “the standard” of beauty that is portrayed in the media and everywhere else we look?
I started to ask myself this question a few months ago.
I have been crossdressing since I was ten years old. I guess I didn’t realize it then, but even when I was younger, I always wanted to look a certain way when dressed — that which I was told was the best way to look. Recently, with the support of my spouse, I have been able to express myself fully including wig, makeup and any and all of the other feminine accoutrements of which you can think. All of a sudden, instead of dressing to express myself and for fun and enjoyment, I have been trying to live up to some standard of beauty by which I’ve been surrounded since my childhood. And what’s more, it is a standard that changes with the times!
As a spouse, I have been frustrated in the past that my wife felt she had to live up to some fictitious standard either in order to be enough or in order to be accepted by others. I have worked furiously to let her know that I love her no matter what, and “the standard” of beauty that she is putting on herself is irrelevant to our relationship. I think many of us who are feminine or have a feminine side have been frustrated at the lies that we have seen the other women in our lives tell themselves because of societal standards.
Even though it is easy for me to convey this with my words to my spouse, I did not understand until now why she continued to struggle with it. It is harder to convince myself when I look in the mirror that I don’t need to look a certain way when I am en femme. I have to remind myself that “the standard” of beauty that society gives us is the goal, and not something that makes me more or less valuable as a woman. Who I am should not be based on how I look.
As I have continued to grow each day, I understand this dichotomy a little better. I am learning how to to be who I want to be, which may or may not look like “the standard” of beauty that I see around me everyday. Staying true to myself means understanding what motivates me to do what I do. As soon as I find myself thinking “I’m not good enough” or “I wish I was that way”, I have to check my motivations.
Much of who I am as a woman has been influenced by the wonderful women in my life. They have come in all shapes, sizes, styles, and personalities. The more I look in the mirror, the more I examine myself and truly seek to understand my motivations, and the more I understand who I am apart from “the standard.” Some of the things I like and some of my style may fit with what the world says is “how it should be”, but some may not. As long as I can keep these thoughts in front of me, I can avoid going down the rabbit hole of living up to something that isn’t me.
If we are really honest with ourselves, and really explore why we do the things we do, then we may be able to find who we are deep down, outside of the pressure of “the standard” that has been set by others. That is when we can truly be free.