You are gorgeous, dear transgender woman

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

If you’re like most women, you see all your flaws. Perhaps you put on a little holiday weight, and now you see a reflection which appears to be 300 pounds. Perhaps you’ve got a few laugh lines, yet see a withered old crow gazing back at you. Too fat, too tall, too short, too round, too square, too lanky, too thin, too goofy, too awkward, too hairy, too dark, too pale, too… too much not like who you imagine you should be.

Society tells us every day not only how we should look, but that we should tie our self worth tightly to the image staring back at us in the mirror. We’re enticed with images of the beautiful woman we could become if only we would buy the right product, visit the best salon or take the new workout class. We’re told that to fit in we need to look the part. To be liked we need to be beautiful.

As transgender women we inherit all these expectations society has heaped on woman, and then take on yet more – we’re too masculine. We’re not just told that we need to be beautiful to be liked, we’re told we have to be beautiful to be tolerated. We have to pass to pass muster, and the price for not fitting in is ridicule, or worse.

The weight of these expectations snatch not only our dignity but our future. We put on hold our dreams of going out dressed as our true selves, or set aside a transition that would make us happy because we think we’ll never be pretty enough.

But Society Lies

Being stereo-typically pretty doesn’t make you any more likely to be happy, and it’s a myth that most people even perceive themselves as attractive. In one study 80% of women were dissatisfied with their image in the mirror. Increasing numbers of normal, attractive women, with no weight problems or clinical psychological disorders, look at themselves in the mirror and see ugliness and fat.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Increasing normal, attractive women, … look at themselves in the mirror and see ugliness and fat. ” quote=”Increasing numbers of normal, attractive women, with no weight problems or clinical psychological disorders, look at themselves in the mirror and see ugliness and fat. "]

Focusing on how you look is more likely to make you unhappy and it’s the unhappiness which is likely to make you seem less attractive to others. Many researchers have shown that smiling increases your attractiveness. It also makes you seem more approachable – my advice to crossdressers just starting out is to smile – you’ll not only appear more feminine, you’ll also disarm most negative sentiment on the spot.

The lies of society are more numerous though. They tell you there is only a handful of ways to be beautiful, and it starts with fitting into a size 0 and having perfect hair and teeth. Yet at best this will create a short lived infatuation. True love – the kind that lasts for decades looks deeper into the soul. You don’t need to be prototypically beautiful to be loved, and you don’t need to be outwardly perfect to find your soulmate.

[c[clickToTweet tweet=”They found that people were more attracted to images of others who made eye contact and smiled.” quote=”Subjects were asked to rate smiling and attractiveness. They found that both men and women were more attracted to images of people who made eye contact and smiled than those who did not "]p>

Who You See in the Mirror is a Work in Progres

‘Okay Vanessa,’ you may say, ‘that’s all fine, but when I look in the mirror I see a man – I could never imagine myself looking even remotely passable as a woman’. And for just a moment I’m not going to dwell on passability as a poor metric of success or self worth. I’ll encourage you on changes you can see.

A diet with many vegetables and little meat and sugar combined with exercise will transform your physical body. Skilled practice in makeup can create beautiful illusions by working with light and shadows to dramatically alter appearances. The right choice of clothing can accentuate your assets and minimize more masculine attributes. For those on the path to transition, hormones will soften and sculpt your body into more feminine proportions, and surgeries like facial feminization surgery, breast augmentation and body sculpting can further enhance your womanly presence.

Woman in the world come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t let society fool you into believing you are only beautiful if you fit a certain mold. Don’t despair if your reflection isn’t yet perfectly feminine. And don’t let anyone stop you from expressing who you are inside.

You are too precious and too beautiful to remain hidden from the world!

  1. JaneS 4 years ago

    Vanessa your words are truly inspirational and moving. I have shared this article with a cisgendered woman who has had a lot to do with helping people with poor body image and self worth.

    As you say, it is so hard for cisgender women to love who they see in the mirror because of perceived expectations, that adding the issue of being biologically male ,akes the task so much harder. Thank you for your encouragement and support.

    • Author
      Vanessa Law 4 years ago

      Thanks @janes, it’s not easy being bombarded by expectations. I’ll admit there was a time I loved how I looked, but it takes just a few pounds and a few years and suddenly I’m not so sure. It’s hard to be objective when it’s you staring back in the mirror. When it’s been a few weeks since the last yoga session, or a few months since the last visit to the salon…

  2. Vanessa,
    So great to see you have at least a few moments off from working on the chat issues and having all of us bug you with every little thing to write such a beautiful article. You are so on the nose about society’s unreasonable expectations which all too often become our own as well. I too have occasional found myself despairing that I Will never be the woman I might have been if I had transitioned at a young age like 18-24 instead of thinking about doing it a age 50-51. But then I realize as you noted that it is the true happiness of being who you really are in our soul and who God meant for you to be that makes you beautiful and attractive to others! I’m no all the way there yet but I am working my best to be who I am meant to be-whoever that is! And if-no WHEN I make it to that point, I hope that the person who loves me does so not for how I look but for who am – a person who has so much love to give and only wants to feel that love from her soulmate-the form of that person-male,female,TG-doesn’t matter– it’s their heart that I want. And one day-maybe even soon- I will find it. Thanks for a great post Vanessa.


    • Author
      Vanessa Law 4 years ago

      Thanks Cyn,

      It’s just a trap – if you’re a size 4 then you despair because you’re not a size 2. If you’re 6′ you despair because you’re not shorter, and if you’re 5’4″ you despair because you’re not 5’9″. If you transition in your 30s, then you despair because you didn’t transition in your teens, and if you transition then you despair the authentic female life you were robbed of and children you’ll never have. And on and on.

      I hope you find someone who loves you for who you are and for how you look! The heart creates the lasting connection, and I wouldn’t give up on finding someone who will love every nook and cranny of your body. What some may think of as flaws others celebrate as great beauty.

  3. Andrea Miles 4 years ago

    Vanessa, thank you. For me, your main practical advice was SMILE. To your own comments on the effects of a smile on other people I would only add, smiling makes you, yourself, feel better,too. And if you feel good, your smile will be sweet. If you are seen as a sweetie , who is going to worry about, or even notice, those horrid, lingering traces of manhood?

    Hugs, darling

  4. Caren 4 years ago

    Vanessa,thank you so much for this article.As I travel this road I find that self-doubt is my biggest hurdle and I know that most if not all of us deal with it on a daily basis. Your shared experiences inspire me to not give up and I thank you for your love and support .

    • Caren,

      I have seen you pop briefly into the members only chat room but then leave before saying anything! Please don’t be hesitant to come and stay and participate in the conversation. I promise we don’t bite and we are interested in what you have to say! I know it can be scary to open up and share your feelings. Believe it or not, I was in the same position you re just four months ago! I finally decided to take a leap of faith and talk about my feelings and I have reaped so many rewards by doing so. I have learned and am STILL learning ore about myself and am getting the blessings of helping others too! So please come join us soon and speakup-we’re all in the same boat-come greet your fellow passengers!


    • Author
      Vanessa Law 4 years ago

      @caren it is a pleasure, I’m so glad you found us – the journey is overflowing with hurdles, but the beautiful thing is, together we can make the path straighter and smoother for each other. I’m looking forward to seeing you on the forums!

  5. Danielle Lisbeth 4 years ago

    OMG!! I have so much to say and add. This article touches some very sensitive points that are bound to have meaning to everyone in different ways. I’ll share mine and my thoughts soon, from a computer. Thanks for starting the conversation. It’s an impotent one. Self image is afterall, at the core of many of the things that drive our decisions in life. Hugs Dani

  6. Rosaliy Lynne 4 years ago

    Society does indeed lie and greatly so.

    When I look in the mirror, or when I looked in it as HIM, I have two entirely different reactions. He, well I have seem him all my life and he has changed with age. A good person, certainly, how could he be otherwise and become ME? AH but when I look in the mirror as ME, I smile. I love who I see because she truly is ME. Passable? Who really cares that matters? No one. I matter and I LOVE that person smiling back at me.

    As I step out, I smile often and yes, it truly does disarm those who look at you askance. It even saps what anger they might have that YOU would dare to be – this great living, breathing wonder.

    If you would be beautiful, first you must accept you AS beautiful. Smile at that person smiling back at your in the mirror. It is yourself telling you how acceptable you are.

    Not the right size, shape, weight or whatever other measure on which people judge others? Remember this simple truth. YOU are perfectly YOU and no other opinion that would put you down has relevance.

    Many many moons ago, when I was still a young and stupid guy, I had a young girl friend. She had CP and a very low self image. Everyone told her she was handicapped, unable, basically unacceptable. Everyone but me. I told her she was worthwhile and that she could do whatever she set her mind to do. Yes, CP put limits on her not on others, but that only meant she had to work within those limits. I also told her that UNTIL she accepted that image of her that I held, even my opinion of her did not matter. Eventually she got a drivers license. She became a swim instructor at a local Y and she developed a sense of her own worth. Are we any different from her? I think not.

    Although, being both you and stupid, I took the relationship where it should not have gone. It cost me her friendship, for which I am still sorry. BUT, the world gained a woman who knew her worth just as I know mine. I’d like to believe that things balance out in the long run.

    • Author
      Vanessa Law 4 years ago

      Oh @rosaliylynne your sentence ‘When I look in the mirror as ME, I smile” send chills down my spine. Thank you!

      Hindu and Buddishm have the word Namaste. It has many translations, but one I’m fond of is, ‘The divine light in me sees and bows deeply to the divine light in you’. It encapsulated the beauty both in me, and in you – and the shared acknowledgement of it.

      Bless you for seeing the light in that woman so long ago hon, and for letting her see her own light.

  7. Jamie 4 years ago

    Hello Vanessa and all of the other wonderful girls out there.I just got home from my first time at a beauty salon and I was so happy when I looked in the mirror and saw a new woman that was so happy to be the woman she was meant to be.The girls who helped me feel so good about myself were proud and happy to be able to help me with my other side.The mirror is a great thing that tells no lies.

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