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OMG, It’s Me!

She's at it again!

By Amanda J.

I really wasn’t sure what to call this post and I’ve gone through a couple of iterations in that respect.  For reasons that will become apparent as you read on, I did wonder about calling it ‘Carrie’.  Carrie of course is also the name of an infamous horror film, apparently often described as ‘one of the greatest horror movies ever made’ according to Wikipedia and the parallels with my recent experience were not lost on me (not that I’ve ever seen the film, ‘Toy Story’ is about as scary as I go).  It’s also, of course, the name of a song by Cliff Richard, the first line of which is ‘Carrie doesn’t live here any more’ which graphically described what was almost the outcome of this tale.  But did I really want to give this post a title that would scare some of the readers off (and disappoint another chunk who like that sort of thing)?

And then I hit on ‘Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?’ which also seemed very appropriate, given the probable fate of one of the main dramatis personae in this post.  I actually quite liked that name but as I started writing the post, it seemed to be going nowhere so back to the drawing board I went.

Out of desperation, I went back over my old posts and then the light went on.  ‘OMG, It’s ‘Him’’ dealt with my reaction to looking at my photos and being happy to see elements of ‘him’ looking back and its sister post ‘OMG, It’s ‘Her’’ dealt with the feelings I had when I was finally comfortable in my own female skin.  But if I’m honest, there was something missing from those and that was a feeling that I’d well and truly nailed down my female identity.  Let me explain.

The life of a CDer takes many twists and turns.  For those of us who started in our teens, it probably had a strong sexual element which died down as we got older.  Then it was just something about the clothes that felt nice and comforting but mixed with that was probably a lot of denial.  And then when the internet took hold, we may have got caught up in the thriving social media community where rather than being a sin, vanity is a virtue and before we know it, we’re competing for ‘faves’, ‘likes’ and all of the other distractions that go with that particular territory.

I’ve used the name ‘Amanda’ for over 10 years now.  It seemed like a suitable name and girls called Amanda always seemed nice (I subsequently realised that it was about as unsuitable for people like us as it’s possible to get – a man, duh!).  But what was behind that name?  For a long time, nothing other than occasional CDing sessions which, when all was said and done, lacked purpose.  And as a result, I felt emotionally detached from it and, indeed, from the woman in the mirror as a whole – my head knew it was me but my heart was just telling me that it was just an ageing CDer playing dressup.

Going for a professional makeover with Cindy at BWBG was a turning point for me.  That day I experienced three different ‘looks’ and more validation for this side of me than I’d ever previously experienced.  But which was the ‘real’ me?  Yellow dress woman, the sensible headmistress?  Black dress woman, the wolf in sheep’s clothing (or should that be mutton dressed as lamb?)?  Or red dress woman, the slightly dippy blonde who was always disorganised, always late but always forgiven?  

The truth is that I’d settle for any of them but the problem was that those looks were of the moment.  I stopped being yellow dress woman when I changed into black dress woman and then into red dress woman.  And when I was all cleaned up and on my way home, they had all ceased to exist – created by someone else whose skills I could never dream of replicating.  But seeing what had been achieved, I knew that there was no going back and it was now up to me to unearth the true inner woman that lurked within.  But having experienced one of the best MTF makeover artists in the world, the bar was now set incredibly high and how could I ever get anywhere close to something I was happy with?

And that brings me back to Carrie.

The first thing I realised was that I needed to do something about my hair.  Not my natural hair although against all the odds (or to put it another way, my father, cousins, uncles & grandfathers had all lost theirs so the signs weren’t good), I still have most of it but rather what I wear when I unleash my feminine side.  To set the scene, I don’t think I’d ever owned a wig that cost more than £25.  They’d come from all sorts of places – fancy dress costume shops, shops specialising in cosmetics & hair products for the thriving ethnic minority population around London and Amazon.  Some of them looked OK, most more like road kill but, with the exception of my latest ‘syrup’ (as they’re called in rhyming slang in the London area – ‘syrup of figs’ – wigs!), all of them ended up being disposed of in one of my many buy, wear, purge cycles.

In fairness, I didn’t look too bad in the aforementioned ‘syrup’ although, given that it only cost £16.98 (I prefer to look on it as being inexpensive which sounds so much better than cheap!), it was never going to turn me into Helen of Troy’s twin sister, despite the promise of the lady modelling it in the photos on the website.  But somehow, it never really gave me the look that I craved so it was time to start searching for a replacement.  Something long enough not to look like one of those low maintenance cuts that older women go for when they’ve had enough of styling their hair.  And something short enough that it didn’t look completely incongruous with the time worn male face beneath it.  Oh yes, and something that didn’t look like cheapo road kill (but was still affordable).

So I set to work on google images and one – which I soon found out was called Carrie in Noriko’s range – kept popping up.  Seemed nice enough on the photos – just hovering around the shoulders and very natural looking on the photographed models but what shade should I go for?  When I had my makeover,  Cindy declared ‘I think Amanda’s a blonde’.  I gave her the benefit of the doubt and decided that what she meant was that a lighter coloured wig suited me rather than I was suffering some sort of intellectual bypass and focussed my search on the lighter shades.  Again, one seemed to jump out – a shade called ‘Creamy Toffee R’, the R apparently standing for ‘rooted’ making it look like a trip to the hairdressers for the roots to be re-dyed was overdue (apparently that look is de rigueur these days).  Even better, the supplier was having a new year sale and had discounted it by something over 30% so I took a deep breath and ordered it (under a false name so that if, for any reason, Mrs A was at home when it arrived, I could deny all knowledge of the addressee, roll my eyes in exasperation, rant a bit about the inability of online sellers to get even a simple address correct and tell her that I’d take it to the post office and get them to return it to the sender before hiding it away until the coast was clear).

It arrived a few days later and looked amazing in its box, albeit a little lighter in shade than I was hoping for.  Sadly, my son was still at home for the school holidays so it had to be swiftly put away until term started again.

And then the day finally came to try it on.  Now, I love makeup as much as the next girl but the desire to stand in front of the mirror applying a bit of ‘lippy’ has to be balanced against the need to remove every trace before Mrs A gets home.  There’s also the risk that Mrs A will call me to report some crisis or other in our business which requires my immediate attention, either in person or with the dreaded words ‘I’ll video call you on WhatsApp’ giving little or no window for makeup removal without raising suspicion.  So out came my favourite red dress and heels and within a few minutes I was changed and putting on the wig before making my way to the mirror.

Now at this point, I should mention that many of my CDing sessions have taken this form – clothes, shoes, hair but no makeup and my previous ‘cheapos’ which were in either a dark blonde or light brown shade just about compensated for the decidedly un-feminine face gurning beneath them.  But Creamy Toffee Carrie was having none of it.  Looking at the two of us in the mirror, it was apparent that she disliked me as much as I was starting to dislike her!  We were definitely not going to get on with each other and, like her namesake in Cliff’s song, she would soon not be living here any more and had to go.

So back to google I went while Carrie slept quietly in her box, oblivious to the fate that was about to befall her.  Google quickly revealed two issues with my plan; the first was that more or less every photo of a half decent looking wig in the style and length I wanted was – you’ve guessed it – a Noriko Carrie and the second was that the few that weren’t were a lot more expensive and I was in no mood to throw significantly more good money after bad.  And, in any event, because Carrie was a sale item, no refunds were available.

So Carrie and I were stuck with each other but something radical had to be done.

Now of course, women have a secret weapon which they can deploy whenever they feel that their looks need a bit of a lift – makeup.

I’ve already declared that I like makeup as much as the next girl but, let’s face it, the application of makeup is a dark art.  You either have it or you don’t.  Most women have it to at least some degree and any criticism of their makeup is likely to be along the lines of ‘she wears too much makeup’ or ‘that shade of lipstick doesn’t really suit her’ and not ‘she looks like her makeup was applied by a five year-old’ which, unfortunately, was the most likely outcome given my cosmetic skills, or lack thereof.

But then I had a thought.  Rather than thinking of it in ‘holistic’ terms why not break it down into its constituent parts?  Some elements like spreading foundation over my face and applying lipstick I was fine with.  The rest ranged from ‘I guess it’ll do’ to woefully bad.  And that’s before we factor in my atrocious eyesight.  But YouTube has videos for absolutely everything and slowly but surely I started to understand how to apply the various items to a basic level of competence – I was even eventually able to put on false eyelashes without gluing my eyelids together and without one or both of them falling off and instigating a mad panic to find them which was no mean feat given earlier experiences.

And so, with trepidation, I decided to give Carrie one more chance and so, once again wearing my favourite dress and heels but this time with a full face (or, to be more precise, an overflowing face) of makeup, she was once more removed from her box and positioned on my head.

Now, while dodgy eyesight is a positive hindrance when trying to apply makeup, it’s a real advantage when looking at the results – a couple of dark splodges where the eyes are and a red blur in the general area of the lips a few inches below?  Yeah, that’ll do!  And that’s when the miracle happened!

As I squinted at the mirror and my reflection slowly came into something loosely approaching focus, it started to look like Carrie may just have redeemed herself.  But there again, I’d often felt that I looked reasonable in the past and not realised the full horror of my appearance until I’d taken a few selfies and put my glasses back on to look at the results.  So whilst I was daring to start considering a reprieve for Carrie, the verdict would depend on hard photographic evidence.  So I grabbed my phone, looked in what I assumed was the general direction of the camera lens & started snapping before putting my glasses back on and examining the results.

Things were definitely getting better.  Good enough, in fact, to decide that Carrie could stay.  But there’s more to a woman than hair & makeup and whilst I love going ‘full tart’ in the red dress, it’s very much a dress for date night or a smart ‘do’, not daily wear.  That’s absolutely fine if it’s just about the clothes and we’re just doing a bit of role play on how things could have been half a lifetime ago but I was looking for an identity for me now.  One that reflected my personality and my age, not just my fantasies.

What would a woman like Amanda wear in the daytime?  Of the three makeover looks, ‘yellow dress woman’ was probably closest but whilst I did have another slightly longer dress, a plain black skirt and a pair of shoes with a slightly lower heel in my small collection, I could not put together the outfit that I really wanted.  Time to go online!

Fortunately, the larger supermarkets near me have clothing sections and my online window shopping revealed that one had a black roll neck sweater and a pink blazer in their range so when I was next passing I popped in to get the items.  Even that relatively simple exercise was not without its problems.  Apart from being very long sighted with a lazy eye,  I’m also colour blind and, unfortunately, what I identified as the black sweater later turned out to be dark brown and as I’d worn it a couple of times before I realised, I couldn’t take it back to change it.  Fortunately it wasn’t expensive and, even better, the black one had been reduced to half price by the time I went back so that was easily rectified.

But there’s more.  Women’s and men’s sizing conventions are completely different with women’s sizing giving no clue as to the measurements it’s intended for.  Thanks to a ‘healthy’ appetite, I normally take a UK size 18 dress so I picked a size 18 jacket.  When I got home and tried it on, it quickly became apparent that there was enough room in it for two so back it went to be exchanged for a size 16.  Fortunately, there was no longer room for an additional person; well not an adult anyway but still plenty of capacity to accommodate a small child or animal.  I did fleetingly wonder about investing in a couple of ZZ sized breast forms to fill things out (what is it about boobs?) but, in the end, decided that exchanging the jacket for a size 14 was a better strategy so back I went once more.

There was only one thing left to do and that was to put everything on – Carrie, full makeup, the new outfit – and make my way to the mirror.

And that’s when I was finally able to say ‘OMG, it’s me!’

Looking back at me was the person I always dreamed of seeing.  A complete person, not just a collection of clothing, badly applied makeup and road kill masquerading as a ‘syrup’.  A person in whose skin I feel completely and utterly at ease.  A person who is just a facet of who I am, not someone or something that I mentally have to become.  A person worthy of the name Amanda as if it had been given to her at birth not picked from a list at an advanced age.  And a person who needed to, and could, do all the things that people like her do, not just remain the fantasy of an ageing CDer.

If you read my last post – ‘One Giant Leap’ – you know the rest of the story.  Finding myself was all the motivation I needed to finally break free from the confines of my house and be just another woman out and about in society.  And when I’d done it once, I did it again.  And again.  Each time being a little bit braver than the last.  People see what they want to see and I like to think that people who noticed me just saw a woman, slightly overdressed for the supermarket but otherwise unremarkable.  And if they guessed my little secret, I hope they thought something along the lines of ‘for a bloke, he doesn’t look too bad’.

And that’s where the story ends, at least for now.  Except for one thing.  I want others to recognise me in the same way that I now recognise myself.  I’ve still got a long way to go before I am ready to be more than an anonymous supermarket shopper in the real world but having got this far, it would be remiss of me not to share my new look with you.  And so, with apologies for the poor quality of the photograph – this is me.  

And given that you already know my little secret, I’m rather hoping that your thoughts are something along the lines of ‘for a bloke (or dude if you’re from the far side!), he doesn’t look too bad’!


22 Responses

  1. It really is you. Your makeover pictures were, of course, lovely, but the final picture in the pink jacket because it seems so natural and real…not posed so much as captured in the moment.

    I wonder, Amanda, how this affects the way you feel. I know my perspective changed when I first saw my complete self in the mirror. I was surprised, in part because liked how I looked, but mostly because I felt I was seeing real myself, or at least the person I wanted to be.

    1. Kim, thank you for taking the time to comment and for your kind words.

      As to your question, there are two answers – the short one and the long one! The short one is I feel great!

      But, as you’ve asked, here’s the long answer! I’ve spent a lot of my life fighting these strange urges, thoughts and fantasies. I mean guys aren’t supposed to want to dress in girls’ clothes and in particular definitely aren’t supposed to feel good when they do. But underpinning all of the fight and denial was the burning desire to see what the inner woman actually looked like. Parallel to that were other thoughts concerning the inner woman herself. She always seemed out of reach – another person completely who I’d have to become but who I could never envisage becoming. Or to put it another way, whilst I wished I was female and sometimes had strong yearnings to be female, I could never envisage fulfilling that role.

      The makeover was pivotal in changing my outlook. I no longer saw my male and female sides as distinct and started to realise that ‘Amanda’ isn’t someone I have to become, ‘she’ is already an intrinsic part of who I am. It’s the difference between dressing as a woman and simply making a choice of clothing & presentation to fit my particular mood. And once I’d made that ‘transition’ the rest was straightforward if not always easy. It then just became about acquiring the competence to be as happy putting myself on show to others as I was looking in the mirror.

      And without trying to sound too narcissistic, loving this side of myself to the extent that I’m happy to share it with others is the icing on the cake. I no longer fear others knowing about this side of me and that opens all sorts of doors which previously seemed firmly locked shut. Many of those doors I will choose not to walk through but not because I feel I can’t, just because I choose not to.

      Oh yes, I feel great too!

  2. Hi Amanda – and how very true your words are. As lovely as a makeover can be – and your pics are certainly that – it is also a one-off. Unless you can learn to do makeup with the skill of a professional artist your look will always be frozen in time, relegated only to the pictures you took or the special event you attended. The trick i think is to learn and develop your own skills to the point where you are satisfied with the look you are presenting yourself. It’s been a steep learning curve for me, but an enjoyable one and one that is in constant evolution. But even in its embryonic stages to create and see the image of the woman you desire to portray is a feeling like no other. With the image you have developed I see a lovely woman – not a bloke or dude – and that’s got to be so rewarding.

    1. Kris, thank you for sharing your thoughts and for the lovely compliment.

      A makeover is often an emotionally transformative moment as we come face to face with our female alter ego, particularly if it’s for the first time. But because my uncorrected eyesight is so bad, I couldn’t experience that until the photos arrived the following day by which time, as you rightly say, the moment had gone. But for the first time in my life I was able to sit down with all of the feminine sensations that the clothes provided and talk to someone else who made no judgement on how I was dressed (although I hope she felt rather pleased with what she’d achieved) and for me that was the lasting legacy from that day.

      The photos played their part too. Even 21 months after they were taken, I still look at them with the same sense of awe that I did when they arrived in my email inbox but, more importantly, they showed me what was possible. And very quickly my feelings of ‘I could never recreate that’ evolved into ‘how close can I get?’. My honest response in practical terms is ‘not very close’ but in an emotional sense I have the same feelings when I look at my own transformation as I do when I look at the results of the professional one because I can look at all of them in equal measure and feel that, whilst each is different to the others, they’re all a valid representation of a part of me that was hidden for six decades.

  3. Amanda
    The real you in the last photo looks very real , thank you for another well written post


  4. Amanda,
    So much again to comment on but one thing is for sure you’re going in the right direction .

    So lets give hair and wigs some thought . Like you I had a mixture of wigs some from dubious sources , they were fine round the house and my first adventures out to my social groups . Again the turning point was when going full time was on the horizon , a friend suggested a good wig shop so I made an appointment and popped along . Straight away it proved a good move , putting your self in the hands of professionals backed up by a good stock of colours and styles . I tried about a dozen on until we both sighed , we knew that was the one , Stacy by Noriko . Julie the SA said you may like the style but you may not like the price so she hit me with £200.00 ! After a deep breath I told that it was important to feel confident , this was going to be my everyday look it had to be right . I realised you do get what you pay for , cheap , older style wigs can be heavy and very hot to wear , monofilamnet wigs are very light weight and wearable and also more easliy styled . I discovered the down side is no matter what a wig costs they only last about a year if worn everyday . The problem was I had chosen a style that suited me , I decided it’s I would confuse people by totally swapping styles or colours , I had built my identity which was important . So when I ordered the same wig again I was told it had been discontinued , luckily after some careful stock searching Trendco found me one . Since then I’ve had to accept they are no longer are available and moved onto a Ryan also by Noriko and guess what colour ? Creamy toffee R , which is actually better than the champagne R as it is slightly less blond .The other problem with being fulltime is the need to have a backup wig . When I took my holiday last year with the National trust took the precaution just in case I was caught out in bad weather , I knew on my return to the hotel I could slip on a a dry one while the other dried off , thankfully the weather was great for early October .

    Thoughts on makeovers . A good idea or not ? When you’re trying to find your way and struggling with so many aspects of makeup , clothing hair choices , a good professional make over can show you what is acheiveable . The problem is will you or can you acheive it yourself afterwards ? The other problem is they achieve perfection , this is great when you look at the selection of pictures after and hopefully show them to others but how many women do you see in the RW who achieve perfection with their makeup and clothing ? We can easily stand out for the wrong reasons because we look too perfect . OK I admit I will never been seen without makeup and sometimes women have commented that I look ” glammed up ” . I know I can’t go without so I try and be consistent , my makeup goes on first thing in the morning , I very rarely check it the rest of the day , I may just dust some poder on and blusher but decent makeup does last well .

    Photographs are invaluable for validation . In the past I’ve been in a situation when possibly shopping in male mode SAs have asked me about my outfits , knowing you crossdress is so different from being seen dressed , so I always had a few pictures in my pocket . OK it was nice to get a few WOWS , it’s a great boost when you need convincing , nowdays it’s not something I do often , I’m full time as Teresa so I have nothing to prove or search for validation .

    Sometimes it’s the small details that make so much difference . On a visit to Specsavers I asked if the two for one deal meant I could choose a male pair and a female pair . The young sales guy was a little taken back but then he suddenly told me about going to a party dressed and liking it too much . We sat and chatted for several minutes about dressing then I offered to show some of my pictures when I collected my glasses , he was so grateful . So a suitable pair of femme glasses made a big difference as did buying more feminine styled wrist watches .

    Sorry I do go on , I should possibly write a book but then I have started one . I hope it helps in some way .

    1. Teresa, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      The makeover – good idea or not? question is an interesting one. The answer generally depends on where one goes. Some proprietors are not as commited to the customer experience as they should be and some lack the knowledge and skills to transform a male face into a female looking one and achieve mediocre results as a result. I’ve set out the impact that my makeover had on me in a couple of the replies above so no need to repeat myself but I’m extremely fortunate to live within easy reach of Cindy at BWBG who did an amazing job and was devoted to me for the whole time I was there. If she’d just slapped on a bit of makeup and then disappeared off to do her housework, I’d certainly have had different emotions following the session but regret would probably have centred on spending £300 for nothing much rather than abject disappointment with the results. Ultimately, she gave me something to aim for and whilst I will never get anywhere close to what she achieved – poor eyesight and remaining life expectancy make that a certainty – I’m a great deal closer than I ever was before I could see what was achievable.

      As for photos, I tread carefully these days having got too obsessed with trying to get good photos and usually being disappointed with the results. I used to revel in the ‘validation’ I got by posting on Flickr but nowadays I get all the validation I need from the mirror! That said, the comments here are a great confidence boost too!

      1. Amanda,
        As a self employed professional photographer for over thirty years ( now retired ) I found digital photography took the professionalism away . The main problem now is the majority rely on ” selfies ” taken on smart phones , they produce unflattering pictures because they use wide angle lenses which means close ups produce distorted facial features and full length shots produce poor body shapes and of course lighting makes or breaks a picture . The fact I could take studio pictures and process and print in my colour darkroom was a great help . It wasn’t until I saw the results of the right lenses and lighting that I realised the man had gone . Obviously my greatest fear at that time was my family discovering the pictures as I was running my business from home .
        So I never had the need to pay for professional makeovers but again with knowing full time was going to happen I walked into a large Boots outlet and ask them for a skin colour check to assess what shades I needed . The beautician was realy helpful because she’d never made a man up before . Initially she said she was going to apply test patches on my skin but eneded up doing half my face . The booths are open to the public and out the corner of my eye I could see elbows being tugged by passing shoppers but I didn’t care , I was too intent on watching her in the mirror and asking questions as she progressed . After she cleaned me up she offered to be my personal shopper to check out suitable items from the range of suppliers .

  5. Hi Girl friend,
    Another great post Amanda, thank you.
    Great reading with my morning coffee and a wonderful way to start the day.

    I am totally jealous of your make over and pics! As much as I love where I live there are zero businesses that cater to trans girls/ CDs. The nearest city that has any thing like that is Vancouver which is a 4 1/2 hour drive. With that off my chest I must say you look very pretty and feminine in all the pics. The one that’s my favourite is you wearing the black dress. It is absolutely gorgeous.

    Your last pic in the pink blazer is also a winner Amanda. Perfect for a day out shopping and from my perspective your make up is spot on. My only critique would be a nice smile is missing.

    Lastly, welcome to blonde world. It really does suit you. Also consider this your official invitation to the 2024 “Girl’s Weekend”in Kelowna in late April.

    Again, thanks for your post, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it girl. Take care.

    Trish ❤️

    1. Trish, thank you!

      It’s a shame that there aren’t more makeover places and I feel incredibly fortunate to live within a short train ride of BWBG where I went for mine. I do know that Cindy gets a lot of clients coming in from abroad to experience her skills and she’s also an incredibly nice person which makes the whole experience even better than it already was. I also suspect that the market for this sort of service is larger than many people appreciate!

      Thanks for your kind words about the pink blazer outfit (I promise I’ll try to remember to smile next time!). I took the photo after I got back from my latest supermarket expedition and it’s a style I feel really happy with – I was even treated to a gentleman holding a door open for me!

      And thanks for the inviation to Kelowna! I’ve got to be honest here – I just checked where it is on the map and I’m not entirely sure how I’ll be able to swing disappearing without trace for several days (which is the only way I could do it within the DADT arrangement) And why is British Columbia about as far from Britain as it’s possible to get?! Kelowna does look like the sort of place that Mrs A would enjoy as a holiday destination but probably not enough to turn a blind eye for the two sets of clothes I’d need to pack!. I’ll definitely be there in spirit, though, if not in body!

      Thank you as always for your friendship and support.

  6. Amanda,

    Finding out who you really are and being comfortable with it is not always easy. But once you do accept it, your dressing life takes on a whole new dimension. I started dressing fully and going out in public last May right after I got my first wig. After looking at myself in the mirror for 20 minutes I decided that this was “me”, a look I liked and wanted to present to the world. A few days later I was out and about in public for the first time and 6 months later I was living virtually full time as a woman. When you finally accept who you are, dressing becomes more of an enjoyable way of life rather than just an occasional thrill. It also can make you more confident which will only enhance our efforts to blend in when out.

    I too have found myself more open to sharing my life with others as my confidence grew. I find it so interesting that us ladies share a lot of very personal issues amongst ourselves which is something I, and probably many others, hardly ever did as our male selves.

    And you definitely look more than “not too bad”, you present as an attractive woman.



    1. Fiona, thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I think we underestimate the importance of wigs at our peril. As I said in the post, I’ve been through more than I care to remember – all of them cheap and most of them good for dreaming but completely unsuitable for living the dream, so to speak. Ironically considering my early experiences when trying it on for the first time, I really feel I’ve hit the jackpot with ‘Carrie’. In fact, when I had a couple of hours free at the beginning of this week and the opportunity for a full transformation, I tried my old wig (the £16.98 one) on and whilst, despite the price, it’s one of the better ones I’ve owned, it just didn’t look right.

      And as you’ve described, when we do finally find ourself, it’s a truly magical feeling and opens so many doors for us.

      Your point about sharing lives with others is an interesting one. Whilst I’m very binary in my thinking, beliefs and outlook, I do think we all have elements of both genders in our personality. I’m quite happy being who I am but as I’ve come to terms with this side of myself, I’ve been able to see how much of my personality seems to fit well or even better into a feminine persona.

      Finally, thanks for your reassurance about my presentation! All compliments gratefully received!

  7. Dear Amanda,

    My youngest Daughter is names Amanda. She is 6’3’ tall and heft, and as a part time stand up comedienne and improv performer, she has used the A-Man-Duh line many times.

    I always struggle for a new form of compliment. For you, I say you look like I wish I could and am trying to be. You are a lovely role model in many, many ways.

    Somebody already stole my feminine eyeglass&she’s tip!

    Wig: before I went to Nashville I looked for a makeover artist and found the amazing Brittany Muse at Artofficial. She was wonderful and drilled me politely to be sure she could create the right look for me. She also helped me realize my own personal motivations for dressing, noted in other blogs. When she asked blonde or brunette, I paused. I looked at women’s hairstyles I am nearly bald with formerly blonde, now gray, hair, so I picked gray and love it.

    I have been fortunate to work with about half-a-dozen great M-T-F makeover artists, who know what they are doing and take their time. One of the early ones was fond of saying, part way through the process, “There she is….” Which always lit me up. I don’t get the chance to do my own makeup often enough to become proficient at it, so I wait for those annual makeovers..

    A recent development was telling my wife about my feminine side. That is detailed in my most recent blog here. The bright spot is that my wife has asked if she can do makeup for me. I am not sure if she knows what she is getting into, but what a delight

    Thanks for all the well written, and very often humorous, thoughts, Amanda!


    1. Crystal, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and for the lovely compliment which was very much appreciated. I was particularly touched by your reference to role models; I have been inspired by some truly amazing trans girls over the years and whilst I can never repay them for the advice and encouragement they gave me, what I write here is my way of giving back to the community in the hope that someone, somewhere will read my ramblings and be able to relate to them.

      Wigs are a bit of a minefield, though, aren’t they?! As mentioned in the post, I live in the outskirts of London and there are many shops selling wigs for the ethnic minority population. The problem is that they’re either very short – not far removed from a male style but with a bit more body – or very long and designed for people less than half my age! There’s nothing in between which is why I ended up taking pot luck online with, shall we say, mixed levels of success!

      And I hope we get a post when Mrs Crystal does your makeup for you! Word of warning, though, if she hasn’t already met Crystal or seen pics, she may not be as ready as she thinks she is – my wife encouraged me to dress in front of her back in 2014 but I could see things going badly wrong very quickly. The ultimatum followed a few days later.

      And the humour is important to me. Life often sucks but it’s a whole lot easier if we can see the funny side!

    2. Crystal,
      I wear makeup everyday no matter what my day brings , do I get lazy ? Well I try not to , often being in a close situation with other people especially women means get it right but don’t over do it . Women often take the easy route , they may apply a little foundation and that’s it , going a little further improves eyes and , enhances the lips and gains sculpter to the cheeks . I appreciate my situation means close shaving everyday so that always requires a good concealer before foundation . Foundation colour choice is possibly more important to a trans person than it is to a woman , it is impotant to get it checked professionally , I now mix colours depending if I’ve caught more of a tan .

      I made the point with Amanda about makeovers , very often it’s also a special treat for women . The big mistake I found especially being a wedding photographer for 30 years was that the professionals would often overdo it for the big day . You really need to find someone who guides you for an everyday look , keeeping it simple and also keeping it practical time wise . On more than occasion I’ve been given twenty minutes warning to apply my makeup and dress , it can be done in fact I was meeting my sister in law and I had also bought the coffee before she arrived .

      Amanda ,
      If it’s any help , Trendco have a wig outlet in London and if I recall there’s one called Jacob’s . I saved £40.00 online by buying from Valentine wigs . It’s possibly better if you can visit a retail outlet to make an appointment with shops that also supply the NHS rather than a trans outlet , quality and price are usually better and under the right circumstances you can claim VAT back . The important point is they’ve seen it all before you’re not going to shock them no matter how you choose to dress .
      I do have a pet peeve about trans outlets , I can’t see the point buying stuff that is designed for men rathet than women and paying twice the price for it , often the quality is questionable . I admit I’m lucky , my body shape and size usually means I can slip into a UK size 12 or 14 and women’s shoes in size 8 .

      1. Teresa, thank you. Actually, Carrie came from Valentine Wigs and I can’t fault them. If I was going to take this any further, which I have no plans or desire to do at the moment, I would go to a bricks & mortar outlet where, after an hour or two, I’d probably emerge with another Carrie, albeit a bit less hit & miss on the shade!

        The trans outlet point is an interesting one. As I mentioned in the post, because London is multiracial and the black community in particular are fond of wigs, there are a lot of shops selling basic quality wigs at around the £30 mark. In years gone by I’ve noticed exactly the same wigs (brand & style) on sale in specialised online trans sites for more than twice the price. I get that businesses need to make a profit and not everyone has the ‘luxury’ (I use the word loosely) of living near London or is brave enough to go and buy in person but a 100%+ markup (even more when compared to the wholesale price they paid) is pushing things a bit too far. The first wig I ever bought came from a fancy dress shop – reasonable style but, as always, didn’t measure up to the beauty modelling it on the packaging!

  8. Amanda,
    It’s a long story of where my first wig came from , lets just say a dubious source but it proved good enough to attend my early social group meetings . I appreciate you can pay far more than I paid for my wigs , the debate over real hair wigs is so open .I don’t feel they justify the extra cost and the upkeep is far higher than synthetics . I find Nivea shower cream and a L’Oreal conditioner works fine once a week , as I mentioned they have a limited life , they tend to go a little ratty at the back , I manage to push mine about eighteen months . It does help to have two of the same but I never throw them away as I use the older ones for the dirty , dusty jobs .
    I think I made a mistake with one of the wig shops , it’s Joseph’s not Jacob’s , also Trendco will price match and they have outlets around the country .

  9. Amanda, what a wonderful wonderful read. I always seem to drink deeply, everything you have to say. You somehow have words for so many of the feelings that I’m not able to express. I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed seeing your photos. The last one in the pink jacket shows such a classy lady. So feminine in every way. I think we all aspire to that. It really feels me with joy and fascination to read posts like this and see the photos, being in a similar stage of existence, yet my fashion sense has a long way to go. I’ve always envied the girls that were able to have makeovers at BWBG and have dreamed of going there someday for a makeover. You are absolutely right about Cindy being one of the greatest makeup artists in the world. She has a unique style on all her girls, maybe its her trademark, but I can usually tell in the photograph when someone had a makeover from her. Something just extra fabulous about it. I’ve also gone through many cheap wings but I’m getting better. I last purchased a long blonde one from a beauty shop in Phoenix that was around $100 which by my calculations, about £79. That’s the most I’ve ever spent on a wig. But there’s so many other little details that add to the feminine aura you portay. I realize it takes a lot of time, but you can get it right. I haven’t found a local place in Phoenix or especially near where I actually live in Utah that did mtf makeovers, although Crystal Joens has mentioned somewhere or someone in Las Vegas that does it, but that’s still over three hours away. I may have to make an excuse to get away for a day or two. I’ve wanted a professional makeover for so long, because everything I’ve ever done was self taught, watching tutorials and taking some hints from other girls. Sorry about my ramblings, just enjoyed reading the post and all the comments from people with much more experience in this regards. Very enlightening for a girl like me.

    1. Liz, thanks for your kind words! Cindy does have a particular style but the chaise-longue in many of the photos is usually a giveaway too!

      I can’t speak highly enough about the whole makeover experience which is far more than just the results. Even if there are no specialist MTF places near you, it would be worth emailing a few places that do general makeup to see whether they’re trans-friendly as I’ve seen quite a few places in the UK where their main clientele is genetic females but they also cater for what is undoubtedly a growing MTF market. You’d need to take your own clothes and leave once the makeup had been done but the opportunity just to sit and talk with someone who won’t judge you is priceless. Some of them also do makeup lessons which would be a real step up from the YouTube videos that most of us rely on!

      Good luck and I’m looking forward to seeing the results!

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