This is Sarah.
(yes, I do have permission to post photos, and I didn't even have to ask. :) This, obviously, is her "before" photo. Actually, she had one that was way worse, wearing a blonde wig. That was the one she showed us when she first contacted my friend.
Sarah contacted her for help in learning about makeup and clothes. As women, sometimes we take for granted how much we learn over a lifetime and by being surrounded by other women. When someone decides to start dressing this way later in life, you have to realize, it's a lot of information to take in! For most of these girls, they usually don't have an "experienced" female to turn to for guidance either.
Enter me. I love makeup, but really, staying at home with the baby and the dogs, how much opportunity do I get to use pink and yellow eyeshadows, or to practice a perfect smoky eye? It's really a match made in heaven, if you think about it. I get to go shopping, but not spend any of my own money, I get to tell someone else what looks good on them, what works, and what to avoid (i.e. be bossy), I get to experiment with different makeup looks and techniques, and I get out of the house for a bit and meet new people.
All this, and I'm helping someone out too.
This is Sarah without her makeup and wig:
The first thing we did was to go through her makeup stash. It was small, consisting of a mineral powder foundation, a compact that was the whitest shade I've ever seen (it was CoverGirl too - smelled like high school!), a couple of lipsticks that were almost the same color, a crumbling CoverGirl blush, a dual ended black and green eyeliner pencil, a set of grayish purple eyeshadows, and a couple of green and pink tubes of Maybelline Great Lash. The first thing I did was toss the mascaras. The only good thing about Great Lash is that the tube is pretty. Then we went shopping:
Obviously when you're just starting out, you're not going to go buy a whole mess of nice makeup at a department store or Sephora. I tend to think of these guys in terms of being 14 year old girls - you start with drugstore stuff, learn how to use it on the cheap stuff, and then work your way up as items need replacing. I'm discovering that a lot of drugstore brands have really improved in quality since I ditched them many years ago in favor of the higher end products and I've started adding a few back into my collection. I especially am loving the HIP eyeshadows lately and the CoverGirl LashBlast Luxe. I mean, it's no Diorshow, but it's got it's own merits.
I digress! Anyway, this is what we bought - some tools including brushes, preparation basics such as moisturizer, foundation, concealer, etc., neutral colors for eyes, bronzer, etc. We even remembered eye makeup remover - haha! We're totally thorough.
Then, when we get back to the client's home, we go through everything and show them how to properly apply the items, step by step. We also go over how to care for your brushes, skin, etc. so they'll last as long as possible.
Makeup shopping and basics happened the first night. We also went through her clothes (total fashion show - quite entertaining) and told her what worked (and why), what didn't (and why not), what needed to go to Goodwill, and what was too awful to submit another human being to and therefore should be burned! HA! Before we left she was given homework - trim the facial hair (nose too! eek!), shave well, buy a new purse (the old one was a ghastly grandma bag) and a bra.
The next night - wig shopping. We determined what haircolor suited her skin tone best (it's not always the natural color, believe it or not!), what length was most flattering, curls vs. no curls, and bangs vs. no bangs. My friend went over the basics of wig care with her (not my area of expertise, for certain). Next it was dinner and back to her place for eyebrow trimming.
OMG - okay, maybe I'm just a sick puppy, or maybe it's the OCD, but I love love love getting to do people's eyebrows. There's just something about tweezing. I've done several friends eyes, and when I keep up with mine, I do tend to get complimented on them. I always notice other people's eyebrows too.
The challenge with a transgendered person is that they aren't going to be looking like a woman all the time. I mean, the guy still needs to go to work and see his family, you know? So you want to clean them up to the point where they're not all obvious, but where you can still add a little brow pencil or powder to define them to make them look feminine. It's all about knowing your audience I guess.
I may or may not pluck my husband's eyebrows too. :) It's an art to be able to do it and not have it look like it's been done.
So, after eyebrows, I did makeup, again talking her through the steps and even having her do some of them. We did a slightly different look than we did the previous night, so that she would have more techniques but nothing that was too over the top. We sent her to get dressed (I lent her a dress; having tranny friends that wear the same size as you can be a blessing and a bit of an ego downer at the same time, haha) and then put on the new wig.
Does she still look like a man in a dress? I'm not delusional, of course she does. But now she looks like she has some idea of what's going on, and not like she just slapped some colored crap randomly on her face with a Halloween wig from Savers. She has confidence in what she is wearing, and it shows. We've made her feel a little bit more comfortable, a little bit more accepted, a little bit more, for lack of a better term, normal.
You want to know the best part? Why I like to do this? She said to me, "I just can't stop smiling." When was the last time you were able to make someone feel that good? That happy? I've had it described to me as having Heaven open up and hearing the angels sing because someone was able to look past it being taboo and against societal norms and just be able to accept the person and embrace them, flaws and all and help them.
I can't imagine having to live a life where I had to hide anything that I loved. True - I seem to have a slight bit less shame than the average person, but it's only because I've learned at the ripe old age of thirty one that I can have my dignity, or I can have fun, but I can't always have both. I don't want to live my life with regrets that I missed out on something because I was embarrassed or ashamed, and for me, part of that is being open and honest and saying "This is who I am."
I've run around Six Flags swooshing a Wonder Woman cape, I've gotten a drag queen makeover at the MAC counter at Nordstrom, I've learned how to pole dance, I've taken up rollerskating after not doing it for over twenty years (where I consequently fell on my ass in front of a birthday party full of kids at Skateland!), I've gotten tattoos on a whim... in short, I've tried to actually live the life I've been given and have been very lucky to be able to do so without a lot of fear of repercussions. My husband loves me and accepts me, no matter what, even when I text messaged him at 1 am once time that I was drunk off my ass from tequila in a lesbian bar in Oklahoma and we had both made out with girls. Uh, yeah.
In my life, I try not to judge. Now, I'm not perfect, and I do occasionally (don't get me started on the people downstairs!!!) slip up, but for the most part, I realize it's not my job to judge. That burden is on someone with more authority than me. My job is to love my fellow man, even if they do happen to like to dress up as women. Heck, even Jesus hung out with whores - I don't think a tranny can be that bad!
So for someone to say that they can't stop smiling, and to know that I helped to make that happen... well, that's a pretty damn good feeling in and of itself, I'd say!
(eta - the title of the post - my friend and I were joking that we should TOTALLY have our own reality show, and we'd call ourselves the Tranzformers with a Z so as to avoid copyright infringement or something. The tagline? More than meets the eye! LOL!)
Labels: about me, friends