Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Trans No Makeup Zone

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There's an interesting discussion going on at Womanist Musings about makeup in reaction to the No Makeup Zone Today show episode. I'm going to toss in another angle of this makeup debate, from a transwoman's point of view.

One o the things we are constantly dealing with in addition to the usual baggage women deal with in terms of the beauty standard is also our insecurities about whether were accepted as women, period.

Those concerns are elevated or depressed based on whether or not you've had GRS, race, class and how long you've been living in the feminine gender role.

And that's even before we start talking about makeup issues.

My sisters fall along the makeup continuum from being either militantly anti-makeup to embracing it.

While we know that makeup is only a tool we use to enhance our femininity and our overall feminine presentation, it takes on a heightened importance for a transwoman. The more feminine we look to the average person, the better because it draws less attention to us.

That's a major concern when it's in the back of your mind that a transwoman is killed somewhere on this planet every three to four days. .

We know how to expertly put on that other face to the point where ciswomen are asking us for makeup tips.

Personally, I'm in the 'I like wearing it' camp. I own makeup books by Emmy Award winning makeup artist Reggie Wells and Sam Fine. I'm always experimenting with new ways of perfecting and polishing my look and use a mix of budget and Fashion Fair products that I discovered through trial and error work for me.

I'm also aware of the fact that I'm considered a role model for the African descended trans community. My appearance has to be on point when I do presentations and speeches. I never know when I step into a room whether this might be a person's first encounter with a professional African-American transperson and I want that interaction to be a positive one. So looking my gender best includes putting my other face on.

So do I feel different in my bareface than I do when I'm 'in face'? Yep.

I'm fortunate that in addition to having a tall and thin body build, I have a relatively androgynous face with high cheekbones and naturally long eyelashes.

Makeup enhances what I have. But some of my transsisters aren't so lucky.

I like the way I look when it's done, I feel more confident when I walk out the door and that translates into me being more confident in my ability to blend in with other ciswomen and society.

As to being more comfortable with going without it? That's an ongoing process.

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