Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Crossdressing and Fashion (with a capital "F")

(by Marlena Dahlstrom)
“It’s not the clothes.” How many times have I said that when the lament of “women wear pants, so why can’t I wear a dress” surfaces with clockwork regularity on online crossdressers’ groups I belong to. Usually it’s in the context of making the what-ought-to-be-obvious point that women wearing men’s-styled clothing aren’t trying to portray themselves as the opposite gender, as crossdressers typically do. And yet, after reading Anne Hollander’s fascinating “Sex and Suits,” which looks at the evolution of modern men’s and women’s clothing, I wonder just how much of my crossdressing is in fact about the clothes.

To briefly summarize, Hollander convincingly makes the counter-intuitive argument that since the late Middle Ages men’s clothing has been the fashion innovator—and that women’s styles have been both imitating it and borrowing from it for centuries. Before the 1200s, both sexes wore roughly the equivalent clothing: bag-like garments that were variously wrapped, belted and fastened. The length might differ—men often wore shorter ones for activities, such as physical labor and war, that required greater movement—and Northern European men added loose-fitting leg covers to cope with the climate, but the similarities far greater than the differences.

It was the under-garments invented to protect wearers of plate armor from their metal casings that sparked a revolution of closely-fitted garments for men that culminated in the “modern” men’s suit, invented around 1800. The wildly varying experiments in men’s clothing—compare the portraits of Henry VII, Rembrandt and George Washington—also reflected a “modern” sense of Fashion (with the capital “F” as Hollander refers to it through the book), which has an insatiable desire to move on to something new and different than what people are wearing at the moment. Whereas women’s fashion, while inventive in surface decoration and accessories, and incorporating the concept of Fashion, remained unchanged in the fundamentals until the 20th century—when women finally appropriated men’s fashion wholesale for their own use—although even today women’s fashion retains an emphasis on “using ornament and color according to expressive inclination” that was once the common to both genders.

But people generally don’t see it that way. As Hollander notes: “Actual women take “Fashion” seriously or not, depending on their lives, means and views; but they may all believe that it is something legitimately possible for them, something any woman may ignore if she likes but always has an absolute right to take part in…. Most men, in accordance with modern rules, are still quite comfortable ignoring “Men’s Fashion” in its show-businesslike aspects, and feeling that it is not actually available to them nor really even aimed at them.” And that: “For the past two centuries, men have dreaded looking like fools much more than women have; and so the dress of the male tribe has had a somewhat stronger uniform quality than the female one. Women have envied that very thing about it—and sneered at it too.”

What Hollander overlooks is those of us who want to participate in Fashion—I’ve always been a bit of a metrosexual, decades before the term was coined—but who felt it was off-limits due to their gender. As Helen Boyd’s husband, Betty, put it: “Sometimes I just like pretty shoes and pretty blouses but because I have a penis we have to use big words to describe it.” I’ve often said that if I were a bit braver and society were a bit more accepting I’d be tempted to do the Eddie Izzard look (warning: site has audio clips) part of the time—someone who dresses as a “man,” but with make-up, painted nails, jewelry, plus some flashier sartorial elements of women’s clothing.

If I’d been able to this when I young, would I have become a crossdresser? Probably. Doing something one knows is stigmatized requires some deep-seated drives, as evidenced by the difficulty that even those of us who hate their crossdressing have giving it up. And I’m well aware of my other reasons—among others, a chance to take a gender role vacation and a chance to be someone else when I was an unhappy, socially awkward kid.

But I do wonder. I’ve heard enough accounts of crossdressers, particularly those who started as young children, where the initial attraction was simply to wear the “pretty things” that girls got to wear. Certainly, there’s an obvious transgressive thrill to wearing what boys/men don’t get to. But to what extent is it simply Fashion’s siren call to wear something other than what one is currently wearing. To use clothing “to be mutable and multiple, decorative and colorful” (as Hollander says of women’s fashion). To participate in what Hollander refers to as the “ancient forms of display—glitter, exposure, constriction, adornment” that were once the prerogative of both genders—and things that many crossdressers seem to adore. To have available the dizzying array of choices seemingly available in women’s clothing. A crossdresser I know refers to herself as a “glamoursexual” and I think that’s not a bad way of putting it. As Hollander notes, a concern about the decorative effects of one’s clothing would never have been despised as effeminate by Henry VIII or any of his contemporaries in Renaissance days.

But I think we avoid acknowledging the importance of fashion and clothing in the reasons why one might crossdress because it’s often considered “nobler” (or at least more “respectable”) to talk about being “feminine” souls trapped in men’s bodies—and because there’s the fear that doing so seems frivolous. Not to mention the whiff of fetishism. Carrie in “Sex and the City” may be allowed to obsess over Manolos, but a man who does so is considered a pervert. And god knows, I have seen crossdressers online whose only topics of conversation seems to be shoes and the heights and styles thereof. Nonetheless, Hollander makes a number of observations about Fashion and its participants that I think provide some very asute—if wholly unintended—insights into the attractions and psychology of crossdressing.

It’s intriguing that the two major feminine innovations in fashion—the skirt (which split off from the dress) and décolletage—are ones that fascinate many crossdressers, especially in tandem with the mini-skirt. There’s an obvious appeal in that these are “women’s only” clothing—men’s fashion has never seriously incorporated either, although its has borrowed many “women’s” elements. (Often this borrowing is actually a bit of sartorial recycling since these were men’s fashions that had been long ago discarded and subsequently adopted by women.)

But equally importantly, they both show off the body in a way that men's clothing simply doesn't. As Hollander notes, while men’s fashions clearly articulated their form in ways that women’s fashion didn’t, men’s actual bodies invariably remained fully covered. “Men’s fashion has never used provocative exposure as part of the formal scheme; and shirts, once invisible under medieval doublets became elegant status symbols when they began to emerge, not erotic elements…. Traditionally, a man in nothing but underwear is undignified and ridiculous, or vulnerable and perhaps even sacrificial, but symbolically stripped naked, and not enticingly semi-nude.”

Even today: “Modern men’s short-sleeved formal shirt, often forbidden in strictly correct circumstances, have their disturbing flavor partly because they were really borrowed from women, for whom arm exposure is respectable. Men have allowed themselves to take their shirts off, or to roll up the sleeves and unbutton the collar, in negligent or hearty modes; but they have not been moved to cut open the neckline or cut the sleeves so as to exposure the skin in interesting ways. Nor did they ever do so with coats, gowns and doublets, all during fashion’s long history. Even very short shorts for men, along with skin-exposing undershirt, both quite recently adopted, are also slightly disturbing as public male garments for city wear—I believe because they also have dared to borrow the modern female rule for ordinary exposure.” It’s notable that the opened-a-bit-too-far shirt of the stereotypical lounge lizard in fiction is used to symbolize his sleaziness. In contrast, in antiquity as Hollander notes, “it went the other way: men were bare and women covered.”

So one of the appealing things about crossdressing for me is precisely that ability to be deliciously exposed, to put myself on display in a way that would at best get me labeled an exhibitionist (and more likely a pervert) in masculine dress. And I’m not even talking about slut-wear. Rather it’s just being in something dressy and showing a bit of leg and a bit of neckline, and clothing that follows my (faux) curves. No more than a woman who’s proud of her body might show.

This was brought home to me recently when I attended an event in the sort of formal gown I’d desperately envied as a young man in a tuxedo. The dress was black just as my tuxedos had been—so it was a draw on color—although admittedly black velvet is a far more sensuous fabric, and the bow as well as draped fabric around the neckline provided more ornamentation. But it was the bare arms, chest and back, plus a hint of ankle and most importantly the way the dress gently hugged my body that made me feel profoundly sexy in a way that I’d never felt in a tuxedo, no matter how well tailored.

Hollander says the freeing of women from corsets in the 1920s and 1930s wasn’t fundamentally a matter of practical comfort—women had been doing physically taxing things for centuries in corsets and considered themselves comfortable—rather “[i]t instead concerned a new style of female corporeal pleasure, one more visibly expressive of what women had always like about their own bodies, the physical feel of flexibility and articulation in both limbs and torso, even without vigorous activity, the sense of subtle muscular movement and the strength of bones under smooth skin, the rhythmic shift of weight. Literature and nude art show that men had always admired women’s bodies for these very qualities but during most of European history they were personal secrets only to be privately enjoyed and perhaps revealed by artists, but never openly expressed by fashion itself.” Perhaps crossdressing stems in part a desire to experience for myself what men had traditionally admired about women’s bodies from afar.

Of course, there’s a huge difference between feeling you can put yourself on display and feeling that you’re obligated to do so. En femme, I’m a “big chick” no two ways about it and I can only imagine the pressures I’d feel as an actual woman who has to confront the beauty myth every day. But if women face too much pressure to look sexy, often men lack the opportunity to feel sexy at all. As Hollander says a man “[w]ith the shirt collar open and the sleeves rolled up, he may indeed be very erotically exposed; but that effect, unlike deliberate feminine décolletage, only succeeds by looking artless.” [Emphasis mine.] So artless in fact, that a man himself would never consider that state of dress sexy. The widespread popularity of lingerie among crossdressers I think is an attempt to evoke that feeling of consciously being “enticingly semi-nude” that they feel isn’t available to them as men.

There’s a similar appeal in our attraction to make-up. Hollander argues that in the 20th century, personal beauty became “a variable individual manner no longer associated only with a perfect young face and figure”—which was emphasized by the growing cosmetics industry, i.e. beauty wasn’t just for adolescents and that “[m]akeup became the emblem of the conscious, creative charm that transcends all indifferent physical attributes, and therefore makes age irrelevant.” Crossdressers also received these messages—even if we weren’t an intended audience and on a practical level, crossdressers that I’ve seen both en homme and en femme typically do look younger and more attractive en femme, since makeup is by definition intended to enhance one’s features. Would I want to feel like I had to do my make-up every morning? Definitely not. But damn, I do feel more attractive when I’m wearing it.

(The pernicious side to this beauty myth is that if you’re not beautiful there’s no one to blame but yourself. It’s the equivalent of the anxieties that American men have felt about being “success objects.” Free to be a “self-made man” (unlike the Old Country where own’s place is society was historically usually inherited and unchangeable) you’re free to succeed—but if you don’t, or aren’t as successful as you feel you ought to be, the “failure” is yours and yours alone. The head of one cosmetics company once said there are no ugly women, only lazy ones—and its interesting that the jab also invokes the same “lack of effort” ascribed to unsuccessful men.)

Obviously putting on make-up is time-consuming, women’s clothing and shoes can be far less physically comfortable than men’s clothing (although men’s clothing, such as ties, aren’t necessary comfortable either). And wigs, breast forms and hip pads are often hot—“trannies in heat” really means being constantly worried an unladylike “glow” (OK, sweating a like a pig) in summer weather. But the psychic comfort crossdressers get often outweighs any physical discomfort—just as it has for any dedicated follower of fashion.

According to Hollander: “Contrary to folklore, most changes are not rebellions against unbearable modes, but against all too bearable ones. Tedium in fashion is much more unbearable than any sort of physical discomfort, which is always an ambiguous matter anyway; a certain amount of trouble and effort is a defining element of dress, as it is of all art. In the past, stiffness, heaviness, constriction, problematic fastenings, precarious adornments and all similar difficulties in clothing would constantly remind privileged men and women that they were highly civilized beings, separated by exacting training, elaborate education and complex responsibilities from simple peons with simple pleasures, burdens and duties. Change in very elegant fashion usually meant exchanging one physical discomfort for another; the comfort of such clothes was in the head, a matter of honor and discipline and the proper maintenance of social degree.”

While the satisfactions for crossdressers are different than those of the privileged men and women of yore, it’s interesting that we often glory in precisely those fussy bits that drive women crazy—and ones that they’ve often abandoned. In “Girlfriend: Men, Women, and Drag” Holly Brubach described how at a famous New York City boutique for drag queens and crossdressers: teddies, garter belts, Merry Widows “and other paraphernalia which, despite the fact that it is now virtually extinct in most women’s wardrobes, is loving perpetuated here as an integral part of the standard-issue femininity kit.”

The drag queens Brubach interviewed often prided themselves on being far better paragons of “femininity” than actual women and in online crossdressers groups one hears complaints at regular intervals about the lack of femininity in the way women dress and act today, and how they too are "better" at portraying woman than most women themselves. (Fortunately, these complaints from come small minority of crossdressers, ones who fail to see the obvious irony of complaining about society’s intolerance of their desire to wear dresses while simultaneously telling women how they “should” dress and behave.)

But male admirers of transsexuals and crossdressers (less charitably referred to as “tranny chasers”) do often comment about how we’re more “feminine” than the real thing. Which in a sense is probably true since we have to try harder to be seen as “women.” And so doing convincingly can be tremendously satisfying. Not only in the sense one might (or might not) feel in inhabiting one’s “true” gender—but also in the sense of accomplishment, of mastery of craft.

Hollander points out that being good at Fashion is also hard work. “With all the contradictory pressure at work in Fashion, it’s clear that those who are the best dressed are those with the greatest degree of self-knowledge, whatever the fashion genre…. [T]his brand of self-knowledge is usually not consciously and therefore arguably not knowledge at all, and it effects are only another kind of unconscious revelation. To seek it consciously means to devote time and effort to specifically visual self-understanding, not to physical or moral improvement. It means deep detached study in multiple mirrors, the sort of private workout that yield real knowledge of your actual appearance: your rear views and side views, both sitting and walking, your normal head movements, your gestures and facial habits while speaking—all requiring a detailed self-regard that has itself gone out of fashion, again especially in puritan America. It is the sort of thing associated with expensive French courtesans or English Regency dandies whose only assets were their distinctive physical charms, which required constant technical maintenance backed up by ferociously clinical self-scrutiny.” Or of crossdressers whose frequent obsession with mirrors and photos is well known.

Not that narcissism (and sometimes self-arousal) isn’t a factor in our love for own images. But even if we’re considerably less self-aware than the courtesans and dandies about what we’re up to, I think some of the same self-scrutiny is at work. To paraphase Fecility Huffman, we have to learn “feminine attractiveness” like a second language. So I for one have carefully studied my photos figuring out which angles and which poses are most flattering. Consequently, I’m far prettier in them than I appear in real life.

Crossdressing may be pleasurable, but it’s also a skill that one can take pride in when done well. A reporter for a gay magazine who went out for an evening en femme with a local crossdresser’s group aptly summed it up in his story: “A successful transformation involves more than slapping on powder and lipstick, throwing on a dress, and talking in a falsetto. As a creative art form, crossdressing can be as demanding and expressive as painting or sculpting, singing or acting.” Or Fashion.

7 comments:

Leslie said...

Wonderful piece! You are entirely right about transformation being more than pleasurable -- its hard work, and something to take pride in. My own experience is exactly that -- I started out for the pure pleasure and attraction of it, but now its more like a craft or hobby, and I'm constantly trying to figure out ways I can improve.

Samantha Leigh said...

Marlena,

A wonderful article, having limited time I read the whole thing. 2 years ago I went to the "Bravehearts: Men in Skirts" exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It made many similiar points to Holland's book. Staddleing horses seem to be the thing to do in skirts for men. I'll have to dig out my observations from that trip

Bravo,
Samantha

Michele Angelique said...

Dearest Marlena,

Thank you so much for the comprehensive article "Crossdressing and Fashion (With a Capital "F")... you present some interesting food for thought. If I'm reading you correctly, it seems you are saying that in your case, your reasons for crossdressing are just not that complex. Your crossdressing is not about feeling like a feminine spirit in a male body... it's about the clothes! You do not feel gender dysphoric, you just enjoy the fashion, the adornment, the unique and interesting choices, and the multitude of ways females enhance their outer appearance. You find the options available in men's fashion to be too confining, and wish to partake of the much more colorful, vibrant, expressive realm of women's fashion. This makes total sense to me. Your reasons for crossdressing needn't go any deeper than this. For many it does, but for you it's more a matter of self-expression.

It's very interesting to have sisters all along the gender identity spectrum, from someone like yourself who dresses for creative expression, others who live a duality and dress as the embodyment of their inner femme, still others who are transitioning women. I do love diversity, and truly appreciate that we as a group can share this spectrum in a forum of acceptance and celebration.

Marlena, you look just killer in your black velvet dress, and I understand the "profoundly sexy" feeling you describe. Clothes can make a huge difference not only in one's outer appearance, but also to how we feel when wearing them. Men's clothing, especially such things as tuxedos, are not form flattering nor creative. Feeling alluring and attractive leads to confidence, which can evolve into an aura of magnetism. There is just something magical in a form-fitting black dress... I hear ya sis!

As for drag queens claiming to be better at "femininity" than genetic women. *eyeroll* They may lay claim to some aspects of "femininity" in it's most superficial form, ie: fashion/dressing. However, they are "play-acting" women, it is a "craft", an "art", a "skill", much like costuming and theatrics. This is *not* "femininity"; this is a replica of a stereotypical superficial feminine role. Please do not mistake this costuming for "femininity". These people are not feminine beings, they are cartoon characters. It bugs me to hear such silly claims. Don't get me wrong, I love drag queens. All power to them, I just wish they'd realize we're ALL beautiful.

In contrast, many of my transgendered sisters are far more inherantly feminine than myself or the genetic women I know. By this I mean, their personalities are more woman-like than the average woman. Note, I did not say "their manner of dress", I said "their personalities". Huge difference. The dressing aspect is the most superficial layer of femininity. Drag queens focus on this most superficial level without regard for what it really means to be a woman. Whereas, transgendered women are inherantly female in spirit, regardless of what clothes they're wearing. Even when they appear on the outside as men, they're still primarily feminine beings on the inside. This is far closer to femininity than drag queens achieve.

To some women (trans and genetic), fashion is of little importance. This does not make them (us) any less feminine. It depends what it takes to bring that best girl out, and in many cases, the requirements are pretty basic. Others feel the need to adorn themselves to the n'th degree in order to truly feel feminine.

In your case Marlena, it's more about the creative self-expression and ability to look super hot... and why not? You needn't go so far as to label yourself as transgendered, or say you are a feminine spirit in a male body... just be yourself. Let your creativity blossom! I think metrosexuals are sexy too. Why not live in the gray zone between the genders? Pick and choose whatever feels right for you.

"I'm just a person trapped inside a woman's body." - Elayne Boosler

Much love sis, and thx for sharing!

Michele

Lauren Thomas said...

Marlena,
Your entire easy is wonderful, however I just wanted to comment on this one statement for now.
"But I think we avoid acknowledging the importance of fashion and clothing in the reasons why one might crossdress because it’s often considered “nobler” (or at least more “respectable”) to talk about being “feminine” souls trapped in men’s bodies—and because there’s the fear that doing so seems frivolous. Not to mention the whiff of fetishism."

And maybe this is the problem for many crossdressers. It would seem that it is easier to rationalize or justify crossdressing by saying we are "Feminine" souls trapped in men's bodies, because we definitely don't want to accknowledge the fact that maybe for many of us crossdressing is just a fetish, and as negative as that word seems, who cares? Or that we just love wearing beautiful clothes and sexy shoes, and we really don't know why. As for being frivolous, maybe, but then this is how we learn and grow!

It could also be true that many avoid the importance of fashion and clothing simply because they really don't know fashion and clothing, and really don't care to know?. As you state in your essay knowing fashion is hard work that requires devoting time and effort. I would suggest that many crossdressers are more focused on just wearing the clothing, just as many TS's are more focused on resolving their issues of being a "Female" trapped in a man's body; and for the moment neither group is really concerned with fashion, at least not at this point in their crossdressing lives.

When I discuss my own history of dressing, I say that I started dressing because I envied my sister for the attention she received as a girl; and I wanted some of that same attention. I also say that female clothing was prettier and there was such a wide variety of styles for girls, whereas as a young boy I really never liked the clothes I was made to wear. So, for most of my adult life as at CD I've always said, "It's about the clothes!" However, in recent years I have been willing to concede that there may be something more to crossdressing than just the my desire to dress.
My ex-wife often referred to my crossdressing as being a "Fadish," her mispronunciation of the word "Fetish." At the time I didn't like the idea that she saw what I did as being negative, but at the time I knew of no rational why I would want to dress in female clothing. Now my response to her mispronunciation of the word would be to explain to her that she was confusing the words "Fad" with "Fetish." I would then go on to explain that platform shoes with 6" chunky heels are a Fad, while on the other hand the fact that I liked wearing them around the house is more of a Fetish.

With Love and Respect,

Lauren

Miranda Skye said...

Hi Marlena ... I'm impressed with your thorough treatment of this subject. As far as you learning your best poses and what fashion highlights you best i have to confess that Miranda's looks are just "smoke & mirrors" AND a lot of hard work. As excited as I am to travel east one day and meet some of you girls that day will require others seeing the years of testosterone damage in me at close range ... ouch!!! Marlena ... you have been coming into your own lately and are looking GREAT BTW ... -Miranda

Marlena Dahlstrom said...

Hi Michele,

Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply.

> As for drag queens claiming to be better at "femininity" than genetic women.
> *eyeroll* They may lay claim to some aspects of "femininity" in it's most
> superficial form, ie: fashion/dressing. However, they are "play-acting"
> women, it is a "craft", an "art", a "skill", much like costuming and
> theatrics. This is *not* "femininity"; this is a replica of a stereotypical
> superficial feminine role. Please do not mistake this costuming for
> "femininity"

And I think most of them would be the first to admit it. I think Helen
Boyd summed it up nicely: "they are about performance, humor, glamour.
Their femininity and their homosexuality are larger than life."
There's usually a wink and nod -- unlike some crossdressers who can
take an equally, uh, stylized approach to "femininity."

> In your case Marlena, it's more about the creative self-_expression and
> ability to look super hot... and why not? You needn't go so far as to label
> yourself as transgendered, or say you are a feminine spirit in a male
> body... just be yourself. Let your creativity blossom! I think metrosexuals
> are sexy too. Why not live in the gray zone between the genders? Pick and
> choose whatever feels right for you.

Perhaps I gave an overly strong impression that it's just about the
clothes. Admittedly, I've been working out where I stand on the TG
spectrum over the last year. I definitely don't feel I'm a "woman
trapped in a man's body" but there's definitely parts of my
personality that don't quite fit the stereotypical idea of masculinity
and I do enjoy the occasional gender vacation. But as you've
suggested, I'm not overly worried about trying to define myself and
would rather just be myself.

Marlena

Marlena Dahlstrom said...

Lauren, thanks for you engaging reply.

> It would seem that it
> is easier to rationalize or justify crossdressing by saying we are
> "Feminine" souls trapped in men's bodies, because we definitely don't want
> to accknowledge the fact that maybe for many of us crossdressing is just a
> fetish, and as negative as that word seems, who cares? Or that we just love
> wearing beautiful clothes and sexy shoes, and we really don't know why. As
> for being frivolous, maybe, but then this is how we learn and grow!

Agreed on all counts.

> It could also be true that many avoid the importance of fashion and clothing
> simply because they really don't know fashion and clothing, and really don't
> care to know?. As you state in your essay knowing fashion is hard work that
> requires devoting time and effort. I would suggest that many crossdressers
> are more focused on just wearing the clothing, just as many TS's are more
> focused on resolving their issues of being a "Female" trapped in a man's
> body; and for the moment neither group is really concerned with fashion, at
> least not at this point in their crossdressing lives.

Well I'm a part of various online groups and it does seem like clothing and make-up (or showing off in them) often are the topic of many of a conversation. But certainly as Jamison Green has said, there's no one way to be transgendered, and my thoughts aren't intended to categorically apply to anyone except myself. The essay in itself doesn't communicate the full extent of my crossdressing (nor was it intended to). Like a lot of others, I've got aspects of my personality that society deems "feminine" and crossdressing is also a way of helping me express that part of myself.

But I was prompted to write the essay in part because I've got full circle in a sense. Unlike those who started because they envied the "pretty things" girls got to wear, I think my reasons were more related to being a socially awkward kid in my early adolescence, so a chance to be somebody else for awhile was quite appealing. And there was definitely a bit of gender envy involved -- it was the sense that girls didn't face all the pressure "to be a man" (of course, I failed to realize the other gender pressures girls faced), as well as the power (sexual and otherwise) girls held over me. Crossdressing was a chance both to explore what it might be like to a be a girl as well as to appropriate the power I felt they had. And of course there was the transgressive thrill of doing something "forbidden." I've been fortunate in that I've never felt particularly guilty or shameful about my crossdressing, so I think I've always been relatively aware of these reasons.

But there was also the sense that women's clothing allowed more in the way of creativity and expression than I could do in men's clothing. As mentioned, I've been a life-long metrosexual, so I've also been aware of that factor. However when I decided about a year ago that I wanted to go out in public, I think I did go through a period where I thought it was really wasn't about the clothes -- they were only a means to the end of expressing my "feminine" side. But I think I've now come full circle in a sense of being able to say the clothes can also be an end in themselves.

Other's mileage may vary.

Marlena