One of the things I like about crossdressing is that it’s not exactly a mainstream activity. In fifty years’ time, I’m looking forward to telling friends I hadn’t yet met in 2012 that I was once a female model, just to see the reaction.
I hope to amend the above statement to ‘more than once’: if I get a chance to model clothes again, I will leap at it the way a vengeful ninja would leap at a pirate (or something). A huge part of this was getting to try on cool dresses (I was quite taken with a bright pink vintage dress with a skirt that whirls like a turbine if you have the right moves, and a long, tight dress that hugged me from shoulders to ankles). But I think a lot of it was to do with the reactions I got.
First, the reactions of the other models. They were quite happy to treat me as just another female model, despite the fact that when I crossdress I don’t change my voice and I move like a guy who never learnt to dance (I’m not a female impersonator; I’m just me, but in a dress).
In any other circumstance, a straight guy changing clothes in the same cramped space as five younger women might seem a bit… seedy? Awkward? I just turned my back, or feigned interest in the ceiling or floor tiles while they were putting on their next dresses; I don’t know if it made them more comfortable with my presence, but I hope it helped. The fact that I was in a wig and make-up, tucked in, chest padded, and wearing Spanx to give myself the illusion of hips, meant that I didn’t look remotely male, so I imagine that helped a lot too.
We were also all in the same boat – quite nervous about simply walking up and down a catwalk in front of dozens of people. We were all worrying about buggering up our hair whilst changing; is our makeup straight; should we do the thousand-yard stare or smile and catch people’s eyes; the running order; and which of our friends would be watching us. Oh, and not tripping up. So, I felt just like one of the girls, basically.
In the show itself, there was the reaction from the audience. As I said, I don’t really move in a feminine way (I was too nervous to try). For each dress, we had to walk up and down twice. On my first dress, after the first there-and-back, I think quite a few women figured me out; the applause definitely got louder after that.
I caught a few eyes, and they seemed delighted. I think they got that I wasn’t a jokey party-transvestite; I was doing this as properly as I could; I was doing this because I thought the clothes were really, really cool (what other reason do you need to choose the clothes you want to wear?).
I reckon the men were slower to catch on (afterwards, one of the models introduced me to her boyfriend who didn’t quite figure it out over the course of the show).
It’s good to know I can pass at first glance, but I’m feeling the need to maintain the illusion when I’m moving; it’s not enough to just stand around looking pretty any more!
If I get invited to do anything like this again (really hoping I do!), I’m hoping to fool at least some of the people all of the time…