Why Makeup Matters for Trans Women

Do you remember those days when you were first experimenting with makeup ? I certainly do !!! Because I was living on my own, I didn’t have a stash I could “borrow” on the sly, so I had to buy my own. I can still remember those first few frantic “smash and grab” style runs into the drug store, grabbing whatever looked right and then racing out before anyone could give me a funny look. (Other than the checkout girl !!!)

In those days (about the mid 90s) the internet wasn’t as an advanced respository of information as it is now. Girls like me used to gather on usenet forums and taking pictures wasn’t as straightforward as it is now, with smartphones and filters and sharing. I remember posting my first picture on forum and getting some honest, raw feedback about it. Devastating as it was at time, I persevered (add a few more perseveres here) and here I am now !! Little old me (a little less of the old though. If you don’t mind)

As trans women, we have a complicated relationship with makeup. Although there is no single, defining way to express ourselves as women, makeup is among the first that we’ll experiment with. For me personally, its only second to wearing a bra as a symbol of my femininity. Who would have thought a quick flick of a mascara wand could do so much to affirm our identities ?

Makeup can help improve the self esteem of the woman in the mirror staring back at us. It can help make the process of “passing” a little bit easier and for some women, it can make them feel more confident in themselves when going out in public. Someone even told me once that it made them feel safer and more congruent in their surroundings, which was something they were afraid off after hearing about a murder through TDOR. It’s particularly useful in the early days of transition when the effects of hormone replacement therapy and electrolysis haven’t yet kicked in.

As these more permanent treatments start to take effect, our skin softens and our facial hair thins out, we can be more selective with our use of makeup. Our expectations change from wanting to hide our “maleness” to wanting to accentuate our femininity. Our application becomes less heavy and our skills and knowledge increase, we may even visit a makeup artist at a department store to learn techniques like contouring and highlighting. These help soften our face, accentuate features like cheekbones, brow and jaw lines. We may even try a bolder shade of lip colour to emphasise our lips, which are usually paler than genetic women.

As our transition progresses, our relationship with makeup continues to change, we move from it being a necessary stress, to a pleasure. We don’t feel like we are trying to hide anything more, our use becomes more free flowing and creative. Liberating. We’re no longer consumed by finding that perfect look, it’s a form of self expression and mood, which can vary from wearing none at all, to a ton of it. The best thing about makeup is there are no rules, just guidelines and as for those, well, they’re just guidelines ! It’s about accentuating the look you most feel comfortable in as an expression of your female identity.

That’s where groups and pages like ours are so valuable and useful. There are literally thousands of girls within them, all friendly, all going through the same process, the same fears, the same feelings. We KNOW its a huge first step, but we promise, all the girls are really friendly and so genuine with their feedback, you can also message or call us directly if you want some help. We’re always keen to share and help you develop on your journey. If nothing else, we can help you avoid those makeup disasters like “Panda Eyes”, “Slut lips” and the perils of green eyeshadow !! Now THAT has to be worth something !

After all, your relationship will be a lasting one that won’t just end with your transition. And we want to help you make the most of it ❤

Love and hugs

Joanna

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