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.
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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!