Saturday, September 17, 2011

Woman Come In All Shapes and Sizes

Woman come in all shapes and sizes
It stands sentry all day and all night. Waiting for the chance to taunt you, to shame you with the flaws it exposes. It draws your gaze with tempting promises of a feminine reflection and then shines a spotlight on everything that is out of place.

The mirror boldly declares, "Too tall". It shouts a litany of insults meant to dissuade your self confidence, "Shoulders too broad", "Feet too big", "Arms too long". It joins the chorus of refrains heard by woman blessed to be genetically so, "Too fat", "Breasts too small", "Hips too narrow", "Stomach too large", "Thighs too large", "Flat butt", "No curves".

Even the most self confidence trans-woman needs to steel her defenses against the mirror's barrage. In a world obsessed with image, we seem to be cruelly caught between the body dysmorphia common to so many women, and the fear of not blending that is unique to those in the transgender community.

What I don't like about myself
I am blessed that I'm generally not questioned out in public. Most of those who look twice are men not so subtly staring at an image I can only presume they appreciate.

When I look in the mirror there is much I'm grateful for. My smile, my eyes, my figure, my hair. I can even appreciate my nose on those days when the swelling from facial feminization surgery subsides. And I furiously cheer on the hormones that have caused my breasts to nudge against an A cup.

But some days my countenance is not quite so bright. Like postprandial cramps I find myself unable to digest my imperfections no matter how lovely the appetizers were.

I look at myself and lament my height - at almost 6'2" I tower above most women. I don't wear high heels much for fear that even pro basketball players will be too intimidated by my height to ask me out.

I notice how the long sleeves don't quite reach all the way to my hands, and curse the dearth of arm shortening surgeries available. My size 11W feet taunt me - so large they are like sails fueling the ocean going ships of yore. Too large to shoe shop at most real world stores, yet just a few tantalizing sizes away from being able to wear any style I'd like.

How I Love Myself Inspite of My Flaws
I use three strategies to prevent myself from falling into despair. On the best days I can even accept my flaws as beauty, on most days I do enough that I'm able to ignore them.

Compensate: While there are things I don't like about myself, I choose to focus instead on everything that is good. I take an extra moment to linger on my face, appreciating the blessings God gave me and the surgeon enhanced. I step on the scale and smile at the three digits staring back at me - feeling sexy for all the hard work I put in to get to my ideal weight.

Commiserate: I'm not the only woman who goes through this. The winner of America's Next Top Model just last season is taller than me - her height was achieved even with being genetically female since birth. In fact there are websites devoted to celebrating tall women. My heart is warmed when I see so many beautiful women who are taller than I am. Doubtless their shoe size and arm length follow in proportion, and they have the same struggles I do trying to buy shoes in the department store.

Perspective: Physical beauty as defined by our society fades with age. True friendships aren't formed because of how fabulous you look, and lasting happiness in marriage does not depend on whether you  grace the covers of beauty magazines. My spiritual growth, emotional strength and loving relationship with others are far more likely to determine my life's joy than my body. It's merely a mirage covering my soul.

What do you consider flaws in your feminine appearance, and how did you learn to love yourself?


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Photo courtesy of Alaskan Dude.

10 comments:

  1. I gave up considering myself flawed. I had a defining moment - May 20 2011. I was walking on the beach in Nags Head, NC, with my wife. We'd just arrived an hour or so earlier on our motorcycles and just wanted to relax. I saw lots of women out with various body types who were not letting their "flaws" prevent them from enjoying themselves and wearing swimsuits, cover-ups, and sundresses that looked awesome on them. I realized that if they can do that then so can I.

    And I did! The next day I purchased a sundress and wore it as we spent the afternoon on the beach. I'd have done so the day after, too, if not for smoke from a wildfire blanketing the town.

    This was also the first time I ever wore a dress. I had some hang-ups about that which were due to a common trans trope being said to me years earlier by someone very close to me (no words sting more than by such a person) but, that weekend, I had a real break-through. The next month when going to a Sunday brunch at a slightly more upscale place I wore a short dress that also required I forego a bra and wore a pair of 4" heels (with which I stand nearly 6' tall.)

    And today? I love my body and am, with a single exception, happy with it.

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  2. Bravo hon! Thanks for sharing your story of accepting yourself.

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  3. For me it's mostly the fact that facial hair exists. I try to cover it by shaving closely and with makeup, but I haven't found something that works that I can afford.

    I am however much happier now that I've begun the transition, and have been living as the woman I am since March 2011. Not on hormones yet, but working on it.

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  4. Yah! Great to hear hon! I'm assuming you've looked at electrolysis and laser, and are waiting for the finances to allow it?

    They can be prohibitively expensive - I think I've spent almost $15K-$20K on hair removal (over many years, thankfully)

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  5. Yes, I'm waiting on finances.
    I'm thankful you put up this page, Vanessa!

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  6. my shoulders are huge is there a way to make them look smaller or make them work i wanna wear cute tshirts but cant also i wanna wear tight jeans but my upper body makes me feel n look like i am huge on top small on bottom !!!help!!!

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  7. Hi there. Love this site. Hayley, I get it, more than you know. I am 6'3" tall. I am 26 years old and have a great GF who showed me that whatever body issues you have, there are girls out there who have the same issues. Girls cover their bad spots and enhance their good spots, it's all about knowing your body type, what clothes fit your body type and learning a few tricks so that you can bend the rules from time to time. Don't focus on how you want to dress yet, focus on how you should dress and in time you will be able to incorporate new and desired pieces into your wardrobe. Girls learned this stuff through their childhood and teen years, we didn't. so even though it may take some time and patience, you have to work at it. Discovering my style has made me so happy, I wear things I never thought I could wear and some things I never thought I'd want to wear.

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  8. Hi Fatefully Femmy, thanks for the compliments!
    You're so right, there are girls out there with lots of body issues, I think I have a few myself too :)

    Time and patience - great advice dear!

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  9. Fatefully Femmy thank you so much hun thats really helps i keep crying cuase i see stuff i wanna wear but now i will focus on wat can help and evovle to wat i want thanks ur a sweetheart

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