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the art of feminine presentation

I feel I have become quite good at my overall female presentation.

When I was young I would never express myself in any manner, other than behind closed doors in my room, that would give clues towards my having any interest in cross gender expression. Even the innocent idea of going out for Halloween in drag was rejected for fear that I would be seen to enjoy it.

I have asked myself over the years if the way I now express Joanna is really the way I want to be all of the time. Is this the real me or a pretend act that I put on to be able to blend in as a woman in public?

I am not sure I can answer that but it may in fact be a bit of both.

The socialisation that one is exposed to means that your baseline presentation is male. You become accustomed to the habitual behaviour that is appropriate for your gender and learn perhaps to suppress anything that falls outside of that. Therefore, after many decades of practice you no longer know what your real baseline truly is.

I do know that when I present as Joanna there is a natural inclination in me to imitate the female role models of my life. My mother, my sisters, screen and television actresses which I have admired have all had a hand in giving me visual and auditory cues that have helped shape my presentation as a woman. I favour certain clothes and makeup that fit the image I want to portray to the world.

I suppose we all do that as people in that we have an image to sell to others. However, entering into the territory of the other gender is something very few people do and, aside from movie or stage actors, most people never even try. For many people, there is simply too much taboo attached to straying too far from gender norms.

Eliminating my own road blocks has allowed me to hone a presentation through the use of makeup, clothing and mannerisms. But in addition I have been able to gesture and speak the way I need and desire to without feeling I am failing to measure up to a standard that never suited me perfectly.


Comments

  1. This is a question I ponder all the time. How much of our gender presentation is innate, and how much is learned?

    If I were somehow raised on an island apart from other humans, what would my gestures, my gait, my inflection, look like? (The problem is that humans need other humans; if raised alone I would be mute and deeply psychologically stunted; if raised by (say) robots, I would doubtless come to mimic them instead. So I guess this is a thought experiment).

    So when I present as female, and adopt a fem gait and gestures, is it mimicry, or is it releasing a mode of expression which is normally consciously buried? Or is it a bit of both?

    Sometimes at work I find myself leafing through women's magazines. I realise there is a particular fem look which I am drawn to. It's hard for me to judge whether that represents the feminine image with which I most closely identify. In other words, am I drawn to that look because it's what attracts me as a man looking at a woman, or what attracts me as a crossdresser looking at an image of myself?

    The best way to achieve a natural feminine look is to have an adolescence spent experimenting with every beauty and makeup product available. Lacking that (or anything remotely similar), I am forced to do the best I can, using a combination of experimentation and intellectual analysis.

    Nonetheless, it's clear to me that the fem image I have is continuing to evolve. Even pictures from a couple of years ago, while they looked (to me) great at the time, now don't look quite so right. What I need is a real woman to say "Yes, that colour looks good on you", or "actually, you're too old to get away with that style, or that dress".

    A real woman of my age and shape would have a very clear idea of what "works" and what doesn't. As a man attempting to emulate that woman, there is an even narrower repertoire of what "works" and what doesn't.

    Always a work in progress.

    Vivienne.

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  2. Vivienne, I have found that even if I started late, my having practiced quite a lot (over the last number of years most markedly) I have found the right combination of clothing, makeup, voice and mannerisms that works for me. Once you become comfortable with that, it is quite easy to slip into the world and go about your business. At first I remember very well feeling like a man in a dress but I know now that I never was its just that I was afraid to express what I felt inside and I was giving myself away in the process...

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