My name is Alexandra Michelle Forbes. Of course, that’s not my real name; it’s the one I picked for my alter ego who I chose to manifest as now and then. In 2006, I picked “Andrea” as a name in order to set up a Flickr account. “Michelle Forbes” was a name I had recently seen—an actress on Battlestar Galactica, as I recall. I have since changed the first name to Alexandra, as that has always been a personal favorite.
I have published articles that went into when I became a crossdresser, why I do it, and how it evolved over time to resonate as more of an art form. Today’s article elaborates on this idea further, serving as an introduction to an ongoing series dedicated to perpetuating this art form. I’m hopeful they will provide you with ideas on the technical aspects and serve as inspiration in achieving your own look.
Crossdressing as an art form is not commonly discussed. Typically, the focus is on crossdressing as a stage of gender dysphoria or a type of sexual fetish. I think crossdressing represents a diverse range of male expressions, which in some instances can reveal gender dysphoria but usually doesn’t. Given my own experience and many discussions over the years with fellow crossdressers, I’ve formed an opinion that crossdressing is very common, usually sexual in its genesis, and for many, it becomes something more deeply satisfying.
For me, it evolved from a sexual fetish to a kind of performance art, a means to use my body to superficially reflect an ideal female form to the best of my ability. In a tongue-in-cheek manner, I like to refer to this as The Craft as “crossdressing” just isn’t descriptive enough.
In a way, “Alex” is a label for a character. It represents a body of work, an artistic adventure with a complicated beginning and uncertain future. When I dress en femme, it is an exercise in artistic expression that is skin deep. My objective is not to become a woman or even pass myself off as one when in public, but to use my body as a canvas. It complements my other forms of artistic expression, including drawing, painting, sculpture, and scale models.
I feel I am probably like most artists in that I consciously observe and study my surroundings, taking mental notes. As a crossdresser, this means I study women, specifically their manner, style, makeup, and hairstyles. As a heterosexual male, I also see beauty in the female form and appreciate the same attributes of a woman that all superficial males hold in high regard. All of this comes together, over time, to produce an archetype, a mental model of what I want to look like.
When executing a particular look, the most important thing I consider is in remaining true to myself. By that I mean, Alex’s persona is not one of a fantasy girl; rather, it reflects my personality and preferences. I also like to explore new looks within an envelope of comfort, perhaps in a similar way as in trying new paint colors or entirely new media.
It’s been just over 15 years since I started practicing The Craft in a serious way. Before 2006, I dabbled. Since that time, I’ve made lots of mistakes but mostly I’ve learned how to achieve a convincing look through my practice. In the articles that follow, I’ll be taking a particular aspect of the artform and discussing the inspiration, technical execution, and desired outcome. I will also highlight makeup challenges, wardrobe malfunctions, and failed experiments, always in the context of self-improvement and, frankly, with a sense of humor because this thing I do can be quite funny at times.
I’m also interested to know what you are thinking about and welcome your suggestions for article topics. I look forward to the questions you may have about The Craft. Although I have some transgender friends, I can’t really weigh in on transgender-related matters, as I don’t have any direct experience with the subject.
I’m off to buy some Craft supplies… be back soon!
Alexandra – this article resonates very strongly for me. As a virtual beginner down this path, I find also that I express my thoughts in artistic terms, often thinking of my male self as a “canvas” upon which I paint my desired image as best i can. I find I observe women differently now, moving from simply admiring in a typical male manner to observing makeup techniques, mannerisms, styles etc, and imagining how I might incorporate them into my alter ego – my fantasy person. Admittedly all of this started as a fetish of sorts, and like you i was a “dabbler” at first, but it now is something much more fulfilling, while retaining its sexual overtones and for me also answering something very deeply psychological – which i am trying not to analyze but simply enjoying its presence.
I’m looking forward to more articles on “The Craft” – and so glad to find I’m not alone in this mindset.
Nice article. I think it hits the nail on the head for most of us crossdressers. I identify with everything that she said regarding my evolution as a crossdresser even though I started much earlier.
I look forward to reading more from Alexanra.
Alexandra, that’s actually not the first time I’ve seen this particular angle discussed, albeit it’s not a common viewpoint. Of course, we’re all different and doing what we do for different reasons but I think it very much draws the focus onto the question of whether what we feel is important or whether it’s what we see. That. from my own point of view, forms the basis of my next post here in a few weeks’ time. In the end, though, I don’t think it takes too big a stretch of the imagination to see it as an artform with one’s own face/body as the canvas. For some, that’s an important part of the whole transformation experience and for some it’s the only factor but whether or not it features in an individual’s priorities doesn’t matter. It’s just another fascinating dimension to what we do.
As a transgender person I feel being a woman is often an art . They have choices the majority of men don’t have . OK I’m commenting as someone with GD so I don’t consider I crossdress but I do enjoy the craft of putting together clothes appropriate for their purpose , I admit I do get it wrong sometimes but then that’s a joy women experience .
I feel women are often placed on pedestals by crossdressers which I feel is a mistake , we should not fear we can be treated as equals but again I’m speaking from being full time for over four years . Living as a woman is just different and at times hard work but I have to say a far more enjoyable lifestyle . To me now it means happiness and contentment , there are still highs but only the same as any woman might get when dressing for something special .