By Maddie Smith
It is nothing other than an absolute fact that I belong completely in the group called – ‘heterosexual, only want to let my femme side out sometimes, not live permanently as a woman’.
And I’m good with that; it is a perfect fit. But, as I learn and the more I read, those of us into the ‘craft’, as opposed to those who suffer from dysphoria (to whatever degree) need to pass, and therefore concentrate hard on creating the perfect external image of the woman we feel inside.
Let me make clear I am not alienating any other group. I don’t care if your thing is to be a bearded guy wearing a dress and makeup. I will support your right to do so just as strongly as my need to blend and pass.
Being more than 5 decades in before discovering Maddie puts me on the back foot when it comes to experience. And let me tell you, it’s overwhelming. Worse, it borders on depressing! The images of you girls with flawless makeup and incredible dress sense was nearly enough to make me change my hobby …
So. after another one of my long introductions, let me move to the topic today – I recently protested.
Ok, so it is a pretty ineffective protest and up until this point I’m pretty much the only one that knows I’m protesting, so let me tell my story.
But before I do, let me say, this blog is cool. It is populated by wonderful people, led admirably, and looks like my permanent new home. Well until I get banned for saying something I shouldn’t have …
As you all know, there are other places on the web. So, if I said my protest took place on the ‘other site’ you’ll all know where I mean.
A bit over a year ago, a big push began there to stop people posting images that were enhanced in apps. I was far from impressed. Let me explain why.
I have a beard that hadn’t, at the time, been removed for more than 30 years. I also spend too much time behind the desk and you all know what that does. And while getting hair in all the right places was a bonus as a teen, it is just the opposite when I don’t want it visible now. Those of you who have participated in the craft for many years won’t have experienced this, as apps are a relatively recent addition to the world, although Photoshop (which I work with most days) has been an option for a long time.
So, here I am, a recent member of the group, wanting to develop the external look to match the internal feelings. Then I look at images of you lot. It could drive someone to drink. Except there is a way around the initial problem. I simply had to load an appropriate app into my phone, change my gender and then play with possible looks. And it was a godsend! Suddenly I could see what could be done to feminize my look while keeping my features as they actually are.
All of a sudden this was completely possible and maybe even achievable!
Playing with the options started to bring the Maddie look to life. On the other site I made friends with likeminded people. To be honest they come and go over time, mostly go sadly, but hey we all have busy lives. But one didn’t. She became my role model and did me the huge favour of writing out her complete makeup routine. That was a massive time saving. We have even shared other parts of our lives and non-dressed photos, and you all know how huge that is. I will forever be grateful to her for the support I got.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know here; I write off half a day if I want to play with makeup, and that doesn’t include three days of shaving to get the face and other areas ready, and inevitably there are even more hours of taking photos. For that reason, the apps became invaluable to test things and search out looks when I didn’t have that much time. I could try on new purchases, take photos, alter them and see how my features worked with any outfit. Without the apps to let me see that this really was possible, I’d have given up at the start.
When the other site started the push to ban altered photos, I saw red. The reason why should now be clear; everyone needs to find their way and get the confidence to know they can do this. All I saw was members with all the skills from long experience, and in some case no doubt ego, who knew they looked good and didn’t want to know or couldn’t remember how it was for them at the start, imposing their will. Probably they didn’t have the advantage of apps. Maybe they were jealous.
Now let me make clear, not once did I ever post an altered image. I used apps as a tool, but at the same time if I had found something I was proud to share I would have liked to be able to post it. I don’t have any problem with having to leave the watermark, or noting it is altered in the post, but I firmly believe the option should have been retained.
I protested by pulling all my details, apart from name, and no longer contributed. I check in occasionally but really I have found other places that fit better.
I’m sure a number of you won’t agree with me. And that’s fine, I just know that people shouldn’t be frightened away by feelings of inadequacy. That, however, should be tempered by reality. I recently watched Anna Christina’s interview on YouTube. Now I know I will never create even 10% of the incredible image and mannerisms she presents, and I know I will never ever speak, but I also know, after seeing the results in apps originally, in time I should be able to get to the point of travelling out and about with careful planning. And I can live with that.
But whatever you do, don’t forget those just starting their journey. They need and deserve every bit of support and encouragement they can get. And if that means using an app at the start, well, bring it on!
Completely unretouched, cropped only, this photo was after our first makeup lesson. I had hoped to go out for coffee and some shopping but it was a lesson, so the look wasn’t quite what I had hoped. However, it was still good enough for me to be able to sit in the car while my darling made a couple of stops. It was still in public view. Baby steps are good! I’ll get there, just not at the level you girls do. Without an app at the start to see what could be achieved, this day would never have happened.
If only I could show you the before photo! But then I’m sure most of you have the same issues to deal with. One of these three is made with an app, one is my makeup efforts and the third is a joint effort with my makeup artist. Shouldn’t be too hard to work out which is which, but.without the apps to give me the confidence to see the potential, Maddie would never have seen the light of day. I won’t get to the level you girls do but it’s improving!