Saturday, December 03, 2005

For the Love of Dressing

(by Michele Angelique)
One thing we all have in common is our love of feminine dressing. I’d like to share my own girl-woman evolution, and explain how dressing has impacted me. I understand completely why you need this feeling because I need it too. I may well need it so much as to be unhealthy. Yet I’m genetically female, so my excessive dressing habits are “normal”. Upon close introspection, I realize my obsessive compulsive feminine dressing energy was a large factor that drew me to the transgender community. From you I gain a sense of equilibrium and balance. Interacting with you allows me to refocus my energy less on my own dressing and onto yours. We have this common ground, and it’s so comforting to me. With my love of feminine dressing, I know that if I’d have been born male I would be a t-girl.

The joy of feminine dressing runs deep for me. I’ve always been a girly-girl. As a little girl I loved doing fun girlstuff like playing “dolls” or “house” or “dressup”. Every day I would enjoy having my long hair done in french braids, pigtails or half-up half-down, and would always request the ribbons and barrettes. I wore a dress at every possible opportunity, complete with pretty tights, shiny shoes, even cute frilly panties. I remember one of the most important qualities of a dress was its spin factor… the degree to which it would twirl outward. When I would wear a twirly dress, I would spin myself round and round, mesmerized by the fabric of my dress flowing outward. I would insist on demonstrating the twirl of my dress to anyone who would pay mind to me. Of course, in doing this I would invariably become dizzy and fall down on the floor with my cheeks all flushed, giggling hysterically.

In my perfect little world, I would have dressed femme every day. My mom set limits in this area because she wanted me to have a diversity of interests (thankfully!). Plus it was probably a lot more trouble for her to dress me up like the little doll I wanted to be, than on those days when I was resigned to more practical attire. I was always lucky enough to be able to negotiate the dressup at least a few times a week, so I certainly didn’t suffer.

Part of why I was so drawn to dressing girly was the notable positive reaction from those around me. When I would dress up pretty, I would get more attention, and people seemed generally more receptive to me. Before the age of 5, I already had an inkling of the power of feminine beauty and charm. I would work my little girl “cuteness” to the maximum (or so I supposed). Being a girl definitely had its advantages, yet I grew up in an era and place where girls basically had “equal” status to boys. I got to enjoy the fun of being a girl, while having the same opportunities boys had. I know how fortunate I am for having experienced this.

As I moved into my teen years, dressing was still a huge part of my life, although it took on a different form. No longer did I want to be girly. Instead I wanted to be SEXY and BAD. So I experimented with my look, constantly changing styles. At the age of 13 my look was inspired directly by Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”. I got into sexy dresses and mini-skirts, lace nylons and gloves, scarves, ripped up clothing mostly all black, with white, red or hot pink accents. Makeup became my new-found obsession, which I applied to excess, and in every manner of experimentation I could conceive. My hair was always wild and huge, often different colors, punked out in any variant of ways. Jewelry was overdosed upon, earrings, chains, rings, bracelets… and accessories, belts, chains… and footwear, heels always, preferably something saucy and spiky (I still enjoy the dominant power of the heel click factor), rain, snow, whatever, reason and practicality be damned!

By the age of 16, I began to emerge from the wild-child phase, and become more of a young lady. The dressing was still a big part, but again, it took on a different form. I began to have a taste for more elegant styles, subdued yet always quite feminine. Deeply ingrained in my psyche by this time was the daily ritual of styling and curling my long hair and applying full makeup, and I would spend anywhere from 1-3 hours per day on dressing and beautification.

Not much has changed in my 32 years as a female, only the emergence of my different dressing styles. My love for feminine beauty and dressing has remained constant in my life. As you may have noticed from my pictures, I still dress up and experiment with my look often. On a daily basis, I still perform the beauty ritual, even if I’ve no plans to leave the house. It’s something I need, I crave, and I indulge perhaps to a fault. Mirror, mirror on the wall… it has always been my best friend and my worst enemy.

The self-adornment options available to females are endless. Fashion choices are bounded only by imagination, and undergarments alluring and sexy. Proper makeup can conceal almost any “flaw” and hair can be styled in a plethora of ways (with wigs as an alternative). Women’s jewelry is pretty, dainty, sparkly, eye-catching. Shoes and accessories are available in literally millions of different designs. For men, the options are not even 1% of what is available to women. Men have to just accept themselves in a totally natural state, with very little opportunity for improvement beyond a certain point. Women have the opportunity to enhance and maximize our outer appearance, transforming ourselves into whatever image we want to portray. As women, we have available a whole spectrum of identity crafting tools to which men are not permitted.

What is needed on both sides of the equation is balance. Women are fortunate to have all the trappings of beautification available to them, yet it’s a two edge sword. Women who dress to excess may hinge a great degree of self-confidence on outer appearance. I must confess to falling into this category, as for many years I would not leave the house without my “mask”. I have come to realize that I feel like a different person when dressed, partially because of the vastly different outside reaction when dressed vs. drab. Not only must I care far too much about approval from strangers, but I need to also understand that it’s just window dressing, costuming even. The makeup isn’t ME. When dressing must occur before self-confidence kicks in, it can’t be healthy. This is my challenge.

The other side of the coin is men, who are not allowed by society to modify their appearance at all. Even if their outside does not match who they are inside, they must settle for the basics. Men are relegated to a very narrow set of boundaries in terms of self-expression. Society condones men becoming physically fit, smelling good and being well groomed, but that’s about it. Any further measures to improve ones appearance are frowned upon. It seems so inequitable compared to women’s opportunities in this area.

Due to my own love for dressing, my sense of fairness, and my belief in gender equality, I could never condemn a man for (cross)dressing. In fact, I very much enjoy interacting with men who dress. I never imagined there could be men who would bridge this gap, and truly understand what women go through in regard to the beautification ritual. Too many times in my life I have heard from an ordinary man “why does it take you so long to get ready? can’t you just throw on some jeans? hurry up! c’mon lets go!” who upon getting his wish might say something to the effect of “well geez, you’re not really going out looking like THAT are you?” Never again will I hear these words, thankfully.

Men who dress have an appreciation for all the little details that go into the process, and will notice the effort in a positive light. Men who are clueless about dressing assume women roll out of bed looking like this. Men who dress present a most refreshing evolution from the status quo of men. These are the people who are bridging the gender gap, and whose courage will be the foundation for true equality between man and woman.

6 comments:

annette said...

Michele,

I enjoyed reading your column about your own evolution as a dresser. Many other dressers, too, go through similar growth stages as they progress towards that ideal image of what they want to be. I believe a lot of how most cd's like to dress is reflected in what they find attractive in women.

My own path towards feminization took a somewhat different course from the average cd. (Yeah, I'll admit it, I'm a bit of an odd duck) Back in rural Illinois when I was in Jr. high and high school, gym class was required by law five days a week. Title IX was just passed (1972 I believe) and the guys and gals often had class together. Volleyball. Softball. Dancing. Gymnastics. Any non contact sport. Searching my memory banks, I remember being attracted to athletic girls right from the outset. I suppose it was because I was so small, one of the three shortest guys in my class of 100s, and not particularly athletic. Watching those young ladies who could vault the pommel horse, hit and catch baseballs, and sprint the 50 yarder was empowering to say the least. You could say that I was attracted to jock girls, tomboys and the "Marlboro woman." Tall was way cool, too.

To be sure I went through the usual stages of experimenting with makeup and different hair styles but I always reverted back to what I found attractive in genetic women: simple straight hair style, attractive, athletic and sexy. Psychologically strong minded and gentle. My preference was for light makeup or none at all. The look you might see on the US women's soccer or gymnastic teams. Feminine but strong. Yes, drab to me is very sexy, even more so (in my opinion) than the theatrical look.

As I look through my relatively small wardrobe in my drawers and closets, I discover, not surprisingly that I have over a dozen pairs of women's athetic shoes. Aerobics, cross-trainers, running and casual. And a couple dozen pairs of spandex, leotards, sports bras, unitards and bike shorts which I work out in. A number of sporty casual summer outfits such as one piece (hot pants) shorts jumpsuits. Not as many dresses and formal wear, though. Although the vast majority of my clothing is feminine, it consists mostly of plain colors, androgynous blouses (so I can pass as both sexes in public if need be) and some more feminine tops when i'm in the mood. But like most tomboys, I prefer to wear jeans.

Carole said...

Michelle,
I just joined and read your about your love of dressing up.
With the exception of your "wild-teen-aged-years", I could have written nearly the same as you did.
I grew up on a farm and had no idea that any other boy had ever wanted to wear pretty dresses, shoes, etc. I just knew that I loved how I felt when I was "dressed up". I invented many excuses to find opportunities to do so.
I am now 67 yrs. old and just love
dressing, looking, acting as a woman. I have a reasonably large wardrobe consisting mostly of skirts, blouses, heels, a few pairs of slacks, a few dresses and a few low-heeled shoes. Because I am now retired and my wife is still
working, I am able to go out about
once a week. If I had the opportunity (wife knows but, doesn't like) I would spend most of my time en femme.
I am looking forward to viewing more of your site.
Hugs,
Carole

caseyt8 said...

I would very much like to meet with women that can accept a man that does crossdresses. I so much seek this relationship, I have been crossdressing off and on for over almost 38 years. I want someone to assist me in shopping, with makeup, hair, heels, skirts, blouses, everyday dresses and special event gowns, etc. I want us all "dolled up" and enjoy an evening at home, nice dinner, dancing, cuddling and maybe more.

Once I feel comfortable with this we could consider going out to local or regional clubs where similiar groups go and meet others in the Transgender community.

Once I feel comortable with this maybe we could discuss inviting other similiar couples we have met through clubs to accompany us to Regional or National Transgender events.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Hugs and Kisses,
Casey

caseyt8 said...

I would very much like to meet with women that can accept a man that does crossdresses. I so much seek this relationship, I have been crossdressing off and on for over almost 38 years. I want someone to assist me in shopping, with makeup, hair, heels, skirts, blouses, everyday dresses and special event gowns, etc. I want us all "dolled up" and enjoy an evening at home, nice dinner, dancing, cuddling and maybe more.

Once I feel comfortable with this we could consider going out to local or regional clubs where similiar groups go and meet others in the Transgender community.

Once I feel comortable with this maybe we could discuss inviting other similiar couples we have met through clubs to accompany us to Regional or National Transgender events.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Hugs and Kisses,
Casey

Anonymous said...

Girls

I enjoyed reading this and finding that there are more girls that enjoy a man in drag than just my makeup girl. It is wonderful to get dressed and feel good about how you look.

Keep up the good work
kim dee

Anonymous said...

Girls

I am glad to finds some people who are open to men in dresses. I enjoy putting on makeup, doing my hair, nails, hose, and nice dress, and then some fabulous shoes. Not many I know accept this so when I read your article I was overjoyed.

Thanks
Kim Dee