- No. This is not my real hair. It’s an 80‘s-style blonde punk “gimmick wig” that I have to beat into submission to achieve the look I like. I wear the wig tilted to the side because I prefer the part in my hair to be on the side rather than the middle of my head. (And no, that is not comfortable.) Props to Stephanie Danderson - a makeover artist and icon in the Vegas trans/drag scene. Stephanie taught me how to add dark coloring to the roots to make the wig look more realistic and less monotone. (Without the roots, my look had a rather washed-out appearance.) NOTE: this treatment is not good for wigs. The wigs I buy are not high quality, and I go through several of them in a year.
- I got lucky in the facial features department. I have no idea why. If you saw me in guy mode, I doubt you’d think, “Hey, that guy would make one hot girl!” But for some reason, if you add a little make up, it works. I think the key is to experiment with makeup. It takes a while and some trial and error to see what works for your face. And, obviously, what works for one face won’t work for another. Over the years, I’ve gotten tips from makeover artists and other tgirls. I also learned a lot from watching drag queen videos on YouTube. Some girls ignore drag style and say that they don’t want to go as extreme as a drag queen. I understand that. But drag performers are make up experts. They can teach you the basics, and then you can tone it down from there if you want.)
As for trying to look young... and don’t we all? I’m not sure what to say. I’ve always looked young for my age. I’m 53 as I write this. I’ve never smoked. Don’t drink much. And I try to exercise regularly and eat right. Is that the secret? I have no idea. Maybe it is or maybe its genetics. Either way, I can’t imagine that taking care of yourself physically won’t help your appearance -- as well as your self-confidence.
- I get a lot of nice comments on my smile. When I was growing up, I was embarrassed by my mouth. It’s too big. Too wide. Maybe I’ve grown into it today, but I’ve seen a lot of family photos where, as a child, I’m holding my hand over my mouth or doing something awkward with my lips to try to get my smile to look right. I never liked the gap in my teeth. Some people are attracted to that. But I always wanted the classic big white toothpaste smile. As a child I never got braces even though I obviously needed them. My Dad was just not the kind of guy who would spend money on something as unnecessary as braces.
I also hated my lips. Too big and thick for my skinny body as a teen and young adult. And way too many comparisons to Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler. (The guys I played basketball with at the playground used to call me “Aerosmith” as in, “Don’t pass it to that Aerosmith guy, he can’t shoot worth shit.”) How ironic. Now I like my full lips. And I use a two-toned lipstick style to emphasize them!
- The thing I hate most about my current appearance is my five o’clock shadow and body hair. I’ve begun electrolysis treatment and hope that in the next 3-5 years my body will be completely hairless. I’m no expert on either laser or electrolysis, but the electrolysis is working for me. My electrologist says that the amount of time it will take depends on these three things... the amount of hair you have, your tolerance for pain, and the amount of money you can spend. Pain has never been a problem for me. Money always has. So I’m thinking it’ll be more like 5 years. In the meantime, I shave a lot, spend way too much on razors, and do full body waxes before major events and photo shoots. Special props to all the gym boys, tatted guys and metrosexuals who have made going hairless fairly mainstream. Today, removing the hair from your body is no longer a tip-off that you’re transgender -- if you’re concerned about that.
- Most M2F transpeople are self-conscious about their shoulders. People born with a typical male physique naturally have broader shoulders than people born female. I had the misfortune (or was it good luck?) to have been stricken with a mysterious virus at age ten that completely atrophied my right shoulder. A few years later it attacked my left shoulder although the damage wasn’t as severe. This was a great source of anxiety for a young man who wanted to look physically powerful and attractive to girls. Working out and lifting weights didn’t help. The right shoulder muscle was so far gone there was nothing left to develop. I rarely took my shirt off as a young man. I hated tank tops (which were all the rage in the 70’s), and I didn’t go to the beach much. On family trips, my brothers -- who could be brats as all kids can -- used to point out the “Soft Shoulder” signs on rural roads. That was me. Soft Shoulders. Fast forward about 30 years and now my soft shoulders are an asset in trans world. My shoulders aren’t as broad as most tgirls, so, as with my lips, I tend to emphasize them. Once again, something that I once saw as a weakness became a strength.
- No boobs. And I have no serious plans to develop any. Do I fantasize about it? Sure. But all of my reasons for starting hormones or getting implants are very superficial. And I don’t think that’s reason enough. At this point, I should also mention that I don’t live full time as a woman. I thought I made this pretty clear in my writing, but I get asked about it a lot. I’m pretty much a weekend girl as far as going out, having dates, and attending events is concerned. I do dress a lot at home during the week, but that’s very random. I have never lived full time and I have no immediate plans to.
One more thing... please understand the extraordinary ordeal that girls go through to transform... physically, emotionally, and monetarily. It’s no easy thing. It is definitely not a fantasy. I’ve had many close friends go through this and I get teary eyed when I think of all they’ve endured. Much respect. But it does show what is now possible in today’s world. We have more options than ever before in history. And if you feel it deeply enough, I urge you to go for it. It’s your life. It’s your body. It’s your decision.
- No. I was not shot. That mark on my right breast is not a gunshot wound. (Many have asked.) It’s a scar from a Hickman Catheter. That’s the device they used to pump chemotherapy into my veins when I went through cancer treatment for Hodgkin’s Disease back in ’84. I had the catheter inside me for about a year. As you can imagine, I hate this scar. I’m self-conscious about how it looks and I really hate that it reminds me of a not-so-fun time in my life. Oh, and it hurt like a mother when the doctor yanked it out when my treatment was complete. Yeah, not too many good memories there.
- I’ve lost about 35-40 pounds since I stepped on a scale in the early 00’s and saw that I’d gotten up over 210 pounds. I had settled into the typical, inactive, middle class, middle age American life. After a few false starts, I tried the Atkins Diet. I only did it for a year or so, but that got me off to a good start. Since then I’ve just reduced my meals and increased my exercise. Actually, I tend to avoid the three-big-meals-a-day thing and instead I do smaller “snacks” and salads throughout the day. The healthier my snacks are the better my fitness. Unfortunately I have way too much of a sweet tooth for chocolate and Diet Pepsi. My two downfalls.
Like most people, I have trouble sticking to any diet or exercise routine. I tend to go in streaks. But I’m pretty happy that, over the years, I’ve remained consistent. That’s one area where my CiCi side has really helped me. Being CiCi gives me the motivation I need to stay fit and healthy. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she gave me a reason to live. But she did give me a reason to live well. (NOTE: Always see a doctor before starting a diet or exercise program. I know this sounds like a typical disclaimer, but it’s true. My friend had kidney problems and by doing the Atkins Diet he may have made those problems worse. He came close to death a few times. This is serious stuff. Be careful.)
- I have trouble getting hard. At my age that could be ED. But my doctor doesn’t think so. He asked if I wake up hard in the morning... and I usually do. That apparently means that my problem is not physical, but emotional. (Viagra and Cialis haven’t worked.) Maybe its just that when I’m in a sexual situation and feeling femme, I feel like, as the girl, I’m not supposed to get hard. Or maybe it’s simple performance anxiety. Either way, this is something I really want to work on. A lot. Volunteers? (Just kidding. Not really looking for volunteers, but I am looking for suggestions.)
- Over the years I’ve gotten pretty self-conscious about my height. I’m 6’1” in flats and approximately 6’5” in heels. In pix with other tgirls I seem to tower over them. And it’s starting to bug me. (Or maybe I just need to find some taller friends.) But I try to make the best of it. And for me that means playing up the whole statuesque angle. For most of us, the one area where tgirls can hope to compete with cisgender girls is that we have nice long legs. Especially us tall girls! A few years ago, my friend pointed out that I wear boots too often. I love boots (really love boots), but she pointed out that my boots serve to shorten my legs -- ruining one of my best features. So I started wearing pumps more. For good measure, I started wearing hot pants and mini skirts more often as well. It worked. Really shows off my legs. And that’s cool. But I can’t help myself, I still rock the thigh-high boots from time to time. :)
On the downside, my legs and I go through periodic battles with arthritis in my knees and gout in my ankles. Arthritis and gout. Old man diseases. If that ain’t a harsh dose of reality. My doctor has suggested surgery if the arthritis gets much worse. But, I like my legs. I don’t want any scars on them. So when I have an attack, or I’m recovering from one, you’ll likely see me in very low heels or, horror of horrors, flats. One doctor who knows of my trans life has told me that at some point I may need to give up heels.
Now I know he means well. And he’s probably right. And he’s probably giving me the best advice for my overall good health. But I’m sorry. For the near future any way, I’ll put up with a lot of the negative effects of aging, but I’m not giving up my heels!
Thursday, February 6, 2014
The Naked Truth - A Blog for SuddenlyFem by CiCi Kytten
In response to some of the questions and comments I’ve received over the years, I thought I’d take a moment to clear up some things. About my hair, my diet, my smile, and that “bullet hole” in my chest. I’m sorry that so much of trans life is reduced to the physical and the superficial. But that seems to be the way of the world these days. And I’d be dishonest to say that my look doesn’t mean a lot to me or that I haven’t taken a lot of time and trouble to refine it.
The interesting thing is that so many supposed weaknesses that I felt self-conscious about as a child or as a male have now become strengths. Funny how that works out.
I think the lesson in all of this is to take a good hard look in the mirror and decide what’s working for you and what’s not. There are certain things about our appearances that we cannot change. But there are many more things that are entirely within our power. And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in this trans life, it’s that we can change much more about our lives than we ever dreamed possible.
Take care out there.
Be safe. Be smart. Be sexy.
Posted by CiCi Kytten at 3:45 AM