Monday, November 07, 2005

The Inside Image?

(by Lauren Thomas)
A believable image, is how we want to see ourselves and how we want others see us. Whether we are part-time or full-time, each of us tries to create an image that is believable to us, the people we meet, as well as those who only see our image on the Internet. Just how important is our image anyway? For most of us creating a believable image is very important, and is probably the first thing we begin to work on; and also the one thing we work on the most. Creating a believable image is probably the most important part of being Transgendered, regardless of who you are. And for those who actually live full or part-time, creating a believable image is probably more of a real necessity, because they must interact with people face to face. Also, if you have a presence on the Internet a believable image is what really attracts the attention of others. For most of us creating an image takes time and work, and in some cases there are some medical procedures to help us along. Our image is usually base on our own perception of what is believable, and hopefully those who see our image will feel the same. I call this the "Outside" image, the image that people see in the real world, or on the Internet.

If you spend anytime on the Internet viewing the different personal web sites, profiles, and TG listings you will see lots of believable images. So, you might agree that we do spend a lot of time trying to create a believable image. Most of these believable images come from hard work and experience, while a few are the result of photoshop, or are downright fakes. If you have a presence on the Internet then you probably have an email address and if you have a believable image, then you probably receive a lot of emails from total strangers. Most likely these emails will be filled with compliments, and getting lots of compliments may improve your confidence, or at the least make you feel good about the image you have created or achieved.

If you want even more exposure, you can enter contests for GOTM, or get involved with rating systems where your judged and compared to others. There's nothing wrong with rating systems and contest, as they are fun and most of us don't take them seriously. Personally, I rate everyone a "10", and if it's a contest, I vote for someone I know who has probably contacted me in advance and asked me to vote for them. Or, I just pick the person who in my opinion has the most believable image. While most of us probably accept the email compliments, ratings, and contests in stride, and enjoy them for what there worth; I suppose there are some that actually live for this kind of attention because for them this truly validates the believable image that they have created or achieved. I can imagine that there some people that have a believable image, but are so arrogant and self-centered, that the feelings of others really don't matter to them. They are so caught up in themselves and their believable image, that they must have constant validation, and not getting what they want makes them frustrated and angry inside.

This brings me to say, that one problem I find with the Internet at least when it concerns a believable image, is that normally all we see is the "Outside" image. As believable as these images may appear, we really don't know what the person is like on the inside; unless we have the opportunity to interact with that person and really get to know them. The Internet is filled with believable images, some of which are just incredible! However, how many of those believable or incredible outside images match up, or come close to what is on the inside, "The Inside Image"?



Alysyn said...

Lauren, what an interesting question.

Of course, this is where distinctions are made. In the case of CD's, are not a large majority merely presenting a persona that they wish others to see within the framework of the forum in which they are focusing, while in "real life" living as a different person all-together?

And regarding a TS, you start into a whole other realm of psychological probabilities, issues, complexities, and other deep-seated variants.

In conclusion, it's a crap-shoot.


Michele Angelique said...

Thank you Lauren for posting this great article. I agree with your conclusion that the "outside image" is heavily focused on with not enough credit given to the "inside image". This common to TGs and GGs alike, with strong reinforcement given by men.

On the internet, it is possible to create any "identity" of one's own choosing. How close or far this identity is from reality depends on the motives of the person underlying that virtual identity. It depends what that person is looking for, be it information, attention, their jollies, or real genuine human connections. For those seeking real connections, the "outside image" will fairly closely reflect reality. It also depends on the needs and goals of the audience. In communities where the importance of external appearance reigns supreme, the internal is often overlooked or forgotten.

The question is, how important is someone's external appearance to you? Does this criteria determine whether you will interact with that person on a friendly basis? Does it assist in the judgement of whether they are worth your time or not? How much information about that person can be learned by assessing their physical appearance?

If you put the most credence in a virtual image as presented, you run the risk of being fooled. If instead you seek people with character substance, you will find that fabricating substance is too much work for those who are just playing games.

When you meet someone new on the internet, ask some questions, get them talking. Their words will tell you much more about their "inner image" than any photo. If they have a beautiful inner image, chances are they're being reasonably honest about their photos.

My only experience meeting people in real time whom I had originally befriended on the internet was my trip to Vancouver and SCC. On both occasions, the GenderEvolve ladies I connected with were exactly as I'd known them on the internet, except even better in person.

Thanks again Lauren for sharing your perspective on this issue of great relevance to the TG community.

Much love,

Shari Williams said...

Lauren you are right on! A 2 dimensional picture taken literally in a fraction of a second says almost nothing about a person, yet we often use them to judge or evaluate others. As you so aptly stated it is the inner person that really counts. We should all strive to see things as clearly as you do. Thanks for reminding us what is really important!
Peace and love
Shari Williams

KC Tyler said...


Even a "scant" six months ago, I'd have agreed with you wholeheartedly... for I, too, was sitting on the ratings sites looking for the validation I craved but couldn't garner. It's a tough world out there for the marginally pretty, and there are lots of places and clubs where you can go looking for acceptance and get your feelings handed back to you in a bag.

But I have learned that this virtual world can yield real friendships. We CAN get beyond the Outer Visage and find companion inner-soul sisters. I did... and, in fact, more than one. It takes time and a lot of words (easier when done on the phone, but accomplishable on IM or even email)... but if you're lucky and you listen to a small voice that says, "here's somebody that cares", you can find their Inner Beauty. And then our path through the interneted storms aren't lonesome any more.

And suddenly, we become people... not pictures. And the third dimension is wonderfully real.

(And thanks to those who have been there for me... you're all right here, aren't you? I can feel you near..)

Hugs and love, KC