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The Magic of a Makeover

Let's look back, originally run November 1, 2021. Amanda's first post!

I am very pleased to introduce a new voice. Amanda responded to the recent “An Open Letter To Our Wives” post. One thing lead to another and I am delighted that she will be writing posts for us now! Welcome Dear!!

By Amanda J.

First of all, let me introduce myself.  My name’s Amanda and Kandi has very kindly given me space in her wonderful blog to share my thoughts with you from time to time.  I’m 61 years old which is probably old enough to know that that’s way beyond the age when hemlines should not reveal excessive amounts of leg, makeup should be understated and high heels & aching knees are not a good combination.  And that’s before we factor in the havoc that that pesky Y chromosome causes!  So, for 99% of the time, hemlines aren’t even an issue I need to consider, my hair is cut into a sensible low maintenance (i.e. male!) style and I choose shoes that will respect my ageing knees, not declare war on them.

But, of course, I’m here because of what happens during the other 1% of my time!

A few weeks ago, I went for a makeover – my first ever.  Now, ever since I first realized that my body was also playing host to a rather persistent inner woman, I’ve been aware that there are places one can go to explore one’s feminine side.  I’d even contacted a couple of them to make inquiries but had always chickened out and so, for the better part of five decades, I’ve had this nagging question in my mind – what would ‘she’ really be like?  I’ve been through the buy-wear-purge cycle many times so I’m very used to the unique sensations of femininity from feeling loose curls gently caress my neck to the delicious feeling of slipping into a pair of heels (and everything in between).  And I’ve put on makeup although sadly, with my atrocious eyesight, my attempts generally make the results of a seven year old discovering the delights of her mother’s makeup box for the first time worthy of inclusion on ‘Next Top Model’.

From my research, I’d discovered that not all makeover services are created equal.  There’s much more to cutting through the ravages of decades of testosterone and creating a convincing looking woman than just putting on a bit of eyeliner and lipstick.  To do it properly, the apparent shape of the face has to be changed using all sorts of tricks with contouring and the truth is that many in the makeover ‘industry’ don’t understand that.  But I’m lucky enough to live within easy reach of Boys Will Be Girls in London, home to the truly amazing Cindy Conti who is undoubtedly one of the best MTF makeover artists in the world.  So, in a moment of madness, I contacted her and after exchanging a few emails, had a session booked for late September.

And that’s when my problems started.  Doubts as to whether it was something I really wanted to do.  Panic attacks firstly about having to come up with a plausible excuse to give to my wife about being absent and incommunicado for several hours and secondly because of the risk of catching covid and needing to explain to my wife how I’d got infected without actually explaining how I’d got infected.  And what if I was disappointed with the results – Cindy may be one of the best there is but I wasn’t sure that even she could create a silk purse from the sow’s ear that is my face!   I’d considered cancelling it several times but, in the end, realized that it was probably the best chance I had of getting ‘this’ out of my system.  If she could make me look even half decent, my long-standing question would have been well and truly answered and, with a declaration of ‘been there, seen it, done it’, I could pack Amanda away for good and leave behind the complications she causes in my life.  However, even as I approached Cindy’s front door, I still had residual second thoughts as to whether the potential benefits came anywhere close to justifying what I was about to do.

But then the magic happened.

Of course, after nearly an hour of being worked on whilst being turned away from the mirror to avoid spoiling the surprise, the climax was supposed to be the ‘big reveal’.  But, thanks to my aforementioned atrocious eyesight (I’m very long sighted so can’t focus on anything nearby without very strong glasses and, as my male glasses were going to spoil the effect, I left them off), all I saw was a blur with a red blob in the middle (my lipstick enhanced lips!).  I could just about make out that I looked different but would have to wait until I saw the photographs before I realized quite how different.

Now, if you’ve never had the full works of a professional makeover before (and have half decent eyesight), the reveal is undoubtedly a very emotional moment.  I’ve heard stories of girls staring transfixed at their reflection for several minutes, saying nothing so that their voice doesn’t spoil the illusion.  Many girls shed a tear when they see ‘her’ for the first time but, for me, that’s not where the magic happened.

I have two identities – the 99% one as ‘him’ in the real world and the 1% as ‘her’ in cyberspace.  They are completely separate and whilst my wife and sister in law are aware about this side of me from a botched confession 7 years ago, they are unaware of my online identity and activities and it’s a subject never to be discussed.  The only person who knows about both of my identities is me and not feeling able to talk about it to anyone else is often emotionally debilitating.  But as I stepped into Cindy’s flat as ‘him’, my secret was out!  Cindy knew my male identity including my full name from the bank transfer of the deposit and my female identity from our exchange of emails.  She’d now met male me and was about to uncover the identity of female me.  And for the first time ever, I was able to discuss both sides of me with someone who would not ridicule, judge or be hostile.  As a transwoman herself she just understood that there was one person in front of her, not two, and it mattered not one bit if she talked to ‘him’ about his preferences for dress and high heeled shoe styles or ‘her’ about the male-oriented hobbies she enjoyed when not in her female guise.  And I felt completely comfortable in return, not having to filter what I said to conform to societal expectations (ironically that evening I had a drink with a long standing friend whose brother has transitioned to female and with whom I would have loved to discuss my own experiences and perhaps give him a deeper understanding of his brother’s situation but……).

And as the session drew to a close, she paid me a couple of very nice compliments, one of which was how calm I’d been compared to many of her other clients.  The truth was that I felt calm as if what I was doing was the most natural thing in the world – but let’s face it, for many women, getting ‘glammed up’ is the most natural thing in the world so why should it be any different for me with my strong feminine side?

But there was more magic to come.  The following day, Cindy sent me the 150+ photos she’d taken during the session and now, with my glasses on, I could see the full impact of her wizardry, an example of which accompanies this post.  Looking back at me from every photo was a woman who looked blissfully happy.  A woman who was everything I’d ever dreamed she’d be and much more besides.  And, dare I say, a woman who I’d have been desperate to date (but could only hope that, when the inevitable rejection came (sadly her rejection would have been only one amongst the many I did collect!), she’d have done it with the compassion and kindness I saw in her face).  In short, a woman I was proud to know was me.

The truth is that I was absolutely mesmerised by her.  I hate having my photo taken or even looking in a mirror and yet here was a depiction of me that I couldn’t stop looking at.  It was nearly five decades since I first started to understand that I had a strong feminine side and, at long last, I felt completely at ease about that side.  I saw an image that matched my true personality, not the one I’ve moulded to present an acceptable face to the world.

It’s now one month since that wonderful day and I’m still profoundly affected by what happened both during the session and since.  I still look at the photos several times a day and the truth is that rather than being Amanda’s swansong, the urge to give her the freedom she craves is stronger than ever.  Whether I have sufficient life expectancy left to ever get my makeup skills to the level where I could even scratch the surface of what Cindy achieved is doubtful but that doesn’t matter.  Because when I let Amanda come out to play, she’s quite content to look in the mirror and derive joy from what she has achieved, not dwell on those things that are still out of reach.

But most important of all, thanks to the wonderful Cindy, those two people who used to inhabit my body are now just one.  And that, in all honesty, is the greatest gift that anyone could ever have given me.

My two cents (from the original post): How else could this lovely woman and I get to know each other, she in the UK, me living in Kandi’s Land? How else could someone, right down to the poor eyesight issues, describe my first such makeover to a tee, for me happening in 2015. I honestly felt like I could have written this and it greatly moves me to have made yet another friend, another beautiful soul. Amanda, as you well know, this is never easy, but it is so awesome and it truly makes us better human beings. I love you for being the fabulous you that you are!

My two cents (now): I cannot imagine this place without Mandy!


20 Responses

  1. Amanda,
    Welcome ❤️ All you can do is be you, embrace it because it obviously isn’t going away. I look forward to more of your adventures!
    Stay beautiful-Sherry

    1. Kandi & Sherry, thank you both for your warm welcome. I hope I can do you and everyone else who contributes here justice in the months to come.

  2. Amanda,
    Thank you for telling this wonderful story. It hits home to me on so many fronts. I too need to establish plausible excuses for my extended absences from the house.
    You look fabulous from the makeover and you are very beautiful.
    Did you go somewhere afterwards to show off?
    I want to have a makeover some time, but I want it to correspond with a girls’ night. Maybe next year.

    1. Jocelyn, thank you for your welcome and lovely compliments!

      Sadly, around 30 minutes after that photo was taken, I was sitting on a train on my way home and not dressed like that, more’s the pity! What I would say, though, is that the genie is well and truly out of the bottle and I really would love to return to Cindy’s and next time hear the clicking of heels on the pavement as I left, perhaps for a day’s shopping or a meal/theatre trip in the evening.

      As I said in the post, a makeover is a wonderful experience as it can give so much more than just a set of fabulous photos. But it is important to understand the reason for going and choose carefully on that basis. For some, it may just be a case of experiencing femininity for the first time but, for me, I wanted a truly transformative experience and, from looking at galleries on websites, it was obvious that many may well have left me disappointed. The impact can be profound, though because, let’s face it, being the proud owner of 150 photos of the person I’ve wished I’d been for as long as I can remember was never ever going to reduce my dysphoric feelings, despite what I thought when I was booking it!

      Good luck and I think we’re all looking forward to seeing the photos when you take the plunge!


  3. I very much enjoyed reading about your adventure Amanda. You have a real talent for story telling, well done. Can’t say my one and only professional makeover (about the same age) turned out as well as yours, but I did leave her apartment with my heels clicking on the sidewalks.


    1. Karen, thank you for your kind words, I really appreciated them. Makeovers are a bit of a minefield – I look at the photos of other girls who went to the same place as me and wish I’d not played it quite so safe with the outfits – the one on the photo was the ‘riskiest’ of the three I tried (and I don’t think either Cindy or I were convinced about it until we saw it on me) but it’s the one I’m happiest with. But how amazing for you to walk out of yours without changing back! That’s next on the list for me I think!

      Thanks again for the compliments, Amanda

  4. Beautifully written Amanda and your picture is gorgeous, I have had makeovers in 8 cities around the world and can confirm that Cindy Conti at BWBG is amazing and is the best!

    1. Becky, thank you for saying so and for being a great friend. As you say, Cindy is the best there is and it’s not without good reason that people visit her from all parts of the world (she told me that 10% of her clients come from overseas).

  5. Well, that was a nice suprise when I went for my daily dose of Kandi’s Land this morning!

    Having read through what Kandi quite rightly said was my first post here, an update is probably in order. As I said in the piece, those four hours with Cindy had a profound effect on me and continue to do so. When I originally wrote the post and for a while afterwards, it felt that the whole experience was a double edged sword; on the one hand what was achieved was beyond my wildest dreams but, on the other, Cindy had raised the bar to an unattainable level – I could never achieve anything approaching what she managed. But whilst there was an element of disheatenment as a result, what Cindy proved was that it was worth persevering. And that was an important realisation because it then gave me the impetus to see how far I could get without needing to rely on others. I’m still very much a work in progress but nowadays the sense of disappointment I used to feel when looking in the mirror has been replaced with a rush of elation that comes from realising that the person I’ve always dreamed of is confronting me.

    I can’t recommend makeovers highly enough. They’re not cheap, particularly if you pick one of the top ones, but they can literally change your life. I came out of Cindy’s place a different person to the one that walked in four hours earlier; what I didn’t realise at the time was quite how different and the amazing times that were ahead of me.

  6. “I’ve never seen you look as gorgeous as you did tonight
    I’ve never seen you shine so bright, you were amazing
    I’ve never seen so many people wanna be there by your side
    And when you turned to me and smiled, it took my breath away”

    Chris De Burgh said it Amanda, and I concur: The Lady In Red.



    1. Jocelyn, thanks! Sadly that look was ‘of the moment’ and probably never to be recreated, not least as Cindy has put her prices up and the four hour session I went for now costs £375!

      That said I do own a red dress although, sadly, it was designed for those with rather more bulk in the chest department that even my moobs can manage! We can dream, though!

      Thank you as always for your friendship and support.

  7. Amanda,
    This is one thing I have put off. I want to do it, if only to see what I could look like with professionally done makeup. But I wouldn’t want to remove so soon afterwards. Then what to do after the makeover? And the cost? Maybe I think too much.
    I have had ‘parts’ done, including fake eyelashes and wings; and I can do a descend job myself, but I would like to see what a real pro could do with my face.
    I am planning to lazer off my facial hair. I have been shaving since age 12 and at almost 70, I am tried of doing it everyday and sometimes twice a day, (I wax my brows.legs, and bikini because I hate shaving so much.) That way I would not have to worry about the 5-o’clock shadow (3-o’clock in my case) and spend the whole day as Cali. This is clearly what Kandi did with fantastic results.
    I hope you get more chances to get your Amanda on.

    1. Cali, I think the answer to what you could look like with professionally done makeup is sensational! As I said in the original post, it’s important to choose carefully because not all of the professionals fully understand the differences between our facial anatomy and that of genetic females (I read once that there are 17 differences) and the bad ones just end up accentuating the features we’re looking to hide. Equally, what I’ve noticed is that some tend to overdo everything so that the end result looks weird and unnatural. And finally, there’s one well known place here that habitually post-processes photographs making the results look far better than they actually are.

      Cost is, of course, an issue and paying over £400/$500 (I just checked BWBG where I went and the cost is now £410 for four hours) for the experience is a major investment. However, what quite a few of the professionals do is a ‘makeup and go’ service – BWBG charges £130 for that – which, for those who are already ‘out and proud’ and have their own clothes & don’t need the four hour experience, is a far more cost effective proposition. The only thing to watch for, which I guess won’t be so much of an issue in your case (but would be for anyone closeted reading this), is that they use professional grade products which can be challenging to remove – not least waterproof eyeliner!

      We go for makeovers for different reasons but as far as I am concerned, I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t taken the plunge. It was worth every single penny!

  8. Amanda,
    Our level of requirents for makeup are usually dictated by the circumstances , where are we going or what special event are we hoping to attend .
    As a wedding photgrapher I saw both sides of this situation , often a bride would discuss her wedding with me and state she doesn’t like makeup . While I emphasied it was none of my business she should consider on her wedding day she will be wearing white from head to toe with only her face showing , without makeup she will be lost in that sea of white so please consider finding a suitable professional makeup artist to help balance the look . So now the extemes , again many girls choose to use little or no makeup but felt on their wedding day that needed to make the effort . The problem is when the whole of the female side of the wedding party ask for professional quotes they tend to either do it themselves or find someone less qualified and often the results are horrendous .

    As you rightly say makeup is an enhancer , we can learn the skills to understand what the various items can and can’t do . I’ve never had a professional makeover because they often go over the top for everyday wear . So I decided to pop into Boots and ask for a skin colour check ( in male mode ) , they found me a beautician and she did the checkks and came up with a suitable colour . Initially she said she would only do sample zones but decided to do the whole of the left side of my face , all the time i watched and asked questions , all this was happening as shoppers were passing the booth , so I did get a few double takes and some elbow nudging . At the end she cleaned me down and then acted as a personal shopper , going round the various brands with her making suitable clour colour combinations . Finally before leaving i thanked her but instead she chose to thank me because she’d never made a guy up before . All it had cost me was my time and the price of the items but I still felt on cloud nine knowing I now had the right items to comfortably face the World .
    As I progressed over a year or so I felt my foundation was too dark so for a second time popped into Boots to ask for a colour check but this time as Teresa . I expained the situation and she agreed to change my shade to a lighter one but slightly pinkier . This time I also asked her to take a before and after picture which she was more than happy to do .

    Even being fulltime sometimes we can have our confidence dented because we become reliant on the product we’re using so it’s a disaster when walking into Boots only to find the range has been changed . Not only had my shade totally disappeared but they had made it thickier . The one consolation is often old stock is sold off on the internet , I buy both my mascara and lipstick that way now but usually by the dozen , as it’s usually half the price .

    I admit I’m open minded about makeovers , if someone has very little oportunity and lacks the knowledge a professional makeover will blow your mind away because they will see the girl they dream to be . Hopefully you are given some lovely pictures to cherish but where do you go from here ? You may go back in the closet dreaming of the next time or do you take the risk and attempt it yourself ? By attempting yourself you gradually learn , the temptation is often to buy the most expensive cosmetics but we don’t really need to , we are going to have to remove it in a few hours . I will admit that was the mistake I made , I forgotten about makeup remover , so when I my wife saw me later that day it was obvious I been doing something odd with my face .

    I have a couple of tips which I stick to , one is from a friend who does makeup professionally , she told me not to use eye liner below my eyes as it tends to make eyes look smaller . The other from Joan Collins who when complimented on her lip colour staying power she replied that she uses a good quality pencil to both outline and fill her lips and then finish with the same coloured lipstick , it does work as even if you leave a lipstick mark on a glass the colour is still perfect on your lips .

    1. Teresa, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      Obviously, what I went for was more than just a makeover – it was a four hour experience. Cindy’s expertise is well known in the community and people come from all over the world to experience it – for some it is their first time fully transformed and it becomes a very emotional experience for them. I just went with a simple question – how good could I look with professional help? I won’t say that what was achieved exceeded my expectations because I knew that Cindy was a miracle worker so I had high hopes! But what I never expected was what I described in the post by being able to share this side of myself with someone else without any inhibitions. And then, as I regularly studied the photos, the realisation that it was worth persevering – I can never recreate what Cindy achieved but what I can do these days is light years better than it used to be.

  9. I would recommend a professional makeover for every crossdressing women. It is a way to discover your best look. There are always things to minimize and highlight about yourself. What hair style look good on you, and when you see that woman staring back at you it a magical experience.

      1. Amanda,
        Even when playing around with makeup myself I reached a point where I couldn’t believe the man had gone and Julie is so right in saying with the addition of the right wig . It’s a close run thing between good makeup and the right wig and of the two I would spend more time and money with a good wig supplier . I will never forget sitting in the chair carefully going through a selection of wigs with a professional , when we reached the twelth one we both sighed because we both knew . She then said but you’re not going to like the price but it didn’t matter to me because I was going fulltime , it had be right even more than my makeup . Let’s not forget my makeup may wear off during the course of the day but my wig will be worn all day until I go to bed , everyday .

  10. I am so glad I read this, Amanda. I really appreciate Kandi reposting some of these older posts as there’s often so much wonderful information and wisdom in them that bears repeating, especially to newcomers like me. And in my often something I either missed or would like to be reminded of.

    I thought when I first came to Kandi’s land that I had gone through the archives and read all of your posts Amanda, as you were the one that first introduced me to this site and I found everything you said so fascinating and enjoyable. And where I had my first wonderful interactions with Kandi herself. But I don’t remember reading this particular post before. Maybe it’s just been so long I can’t remember.

    I have read, seen and heard so much about the work Cindy Conti does and I completely agree that she sets herself apart and is probably the best in the world at what she does. What kind of blew me away reading this post was you mentioned she is a transwoman herself. I never imagined or seen that mentioned anywhere before and always assumed she was a genetic female. Not only does she do such wonderful work but from the pictures she is also incredibly beautiful and feminine herself. So I never realized she was also trans. But I think I’ve seen thousands of pictures of her work and it is truly amazing.

    I’ve never had a real makeover from someone who actually knows what they’re doing but I think I want to make it a goal now to have a real makeover done at BWBG sometime, whatever it cost and and no matter the journey. It seems impossible to afford or justify something like that but your experience has got me to thinking the same question. What is actually possible for me? What is this face and body capable of looking like. Could she actually work the same kind if magic on me that she does for others? And since I’ve always wanted to visit Europe, particularly the UK. If I ever get the chance then maybe I could make that dream a reality. And of course if you had an opening I’d love to spend a little time with you too!

    1. Liz, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      There’s an interesting question to consider about makeovers and that’s whether they’re a cost or an investment. Initially, of course, they’re just a cost – in the case of BWBG, £410 for a four hour session, one hour of which is preparation and another 30 minutes for clean up at the end with ~150 photos at the end of it. That’s pretty consistent with what I expected when I committed to it. But the reality is that there’s far more to it than just that and I’m still reaping the rewards from that day over 2.5 years later. Fundamentally, prior to that day ‘Amanda’ was just an identifier or a label on a forum avatar; ever since, however, I’ve understood that ‘Amanda’ is a facet of a complete person. Cindy’s skills, whilst I could never hope to replicate them, showed me that it was worth continuing down that path and it’s a path which I can go down as far as I want. It gave me the motivation to find an identity which I can bring to life and not just feel that CDing was just putting on a few clothes and feeling good for a few minutes. And so on.

      The good news for you is BWBG is just over 30 minutes on the train from Gatwick Airport and you definitely wouldn’t be the first international client – I recall that Cindy said that 10% of her clients come from abroad. That said, I’m sure there are some talented people closer to home for you. Have a good look at their work on their website before you commit, though. Not all makeover artists understand how to bring out the inner woman and there’s far more to it than just applying makeup in the same way that they would for a genetic female.

      Thank you again.

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