Hair, there and everywhere

I found out just a few days ago that someone very helpful to my alter-ego passed away, way back in November 2011, and I now deeply regret not letting her know just how much she’s meant to me. But I’ll have to get to that a bit later.

Hair can make all the difference to a crossdresser. A guy can put on a skirt and makeup and go out into the world in the way Eddie Izzard does (did?), as someone who is quite obviously a man, with a short, masculine hairstyle, but with feminine clothes and cosmetics. This, for me, is quite a brave form of crossdressing, because it is quite an open, obvious form of crossdressing. There is no attempt at artifice or subversion; it clearly states “man in skirt; deal with it!”  I’ve only seen one guy walking down the street like this in public. I was on a bus, and saw him in heels and makeup, but wearing a suit and carrying a handbag. I thought, “You go for it, dude!” but he was clearly too much for the teenaged boys sitting behind me who collapsed in a fit of giggles.

I suspect a majority of crossdressers would be more comfortable trying to disguise the fact that they’re men, and if they have short hair or no hair, this means getting a wig and a whole load of opportunities to make mistakes. The most obvious errors are:
1) Cheap party wigs: they look plastic and shiny; they are quite obviously artificial and will draw attention for all the wrong reasons. People will clock you as a cross-dresser, and as one who isn’t taking it seriously; consequently, you will run the risk of being treated as a joke.
2) The wrong style: watch out for deliberately styled wigs. Most women won’t have their hair fashionably styled all the time, so anything too fancy will draw attention. You also run the risk of wearing a dated hairstyle. My first time out, I wore a wig that defied gravity – it looked fake.
3) The wrong colour: red-heads may be sexy and blondes may have more fun, but if your complexion doesn’t match the wig, you’ll stand out for the wrong reasons. I once tried a ginger wig which made me look like Dr Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and it was quite obviously fake. I’ve tried a blond wig, and I really wanted to get away with it, but had to admit it just wasn’t my colour; to ‘pass’, I needed something closer to my own hair colour.
4) Putting it on the wrong way: and I don’t mean getting it back-to-front. If you have a long, masculine face, you’ll need a wig that hides this; you’ll need something to make your forehead less prominent and give the illusion your face is slightly rounder than it actually is. I used to wear wigs too high, so they rested on my hairline. It was only after some trial and error that I learnt to wear them a little further down my face.

These are all things I picked up from a marvellous woman called Agnes Lennox who started Wig Bank, for buying and selling wigs. I visited a couple of times, once with my girlfriend. She let me try out different ones and, with her husband, told me what worked, what didn’t, and (more importantly) why. There were two wigs in her selection I really liked, but Agnes said one was her particular favourite. Given that she was undergoing chemotherapy, I told her that there was no way I was going to deprive her of it, and went for the other one instead. That’s the wig that helped make Twist, and probably contributes a substantial part of the ‘Twist personality‘.

Agnes started Wig Bank because she was disappointed with the range of wigs available to her while she was being treated for cancer, and wanted to give other women a chance to have hair that would let them regain their confidence. She bought wigs second-hand, or from suppliers, and sold them on or rented them out (and not just to women, she assured me). I’m really glad that her creation has grown into a network which lives on.

I just wish I could have shown her how much her advice meant to me, and the great reactions Twist has received. I wouldn’t be the same without her!

Thanks, Agnes.

Living in a windy city can be a total sod.

Living in a windy city can be a total sod.

False advertising

“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
~ Dita von Teese

As I’ve said before, I’m grateful to the people I know for being so accepting of what I do. I also understand that for many other cross-dressers and would-be cross-dressers, they encounter a lot of hostility. I think there’s a number of reasons for this, but I’ll summarise them as briefly as I can.

1) Religious “morality”

“A man’s item shall not be on a woman, and a man shall not wear a woman’s garment; whoever does such a thing is an abhorrence unto Adonai.”
~Deuteronomy 22:5

Well, Adonai can go screw himself. This is usually cited as the earliest example of a prohibition against cross-dressing, and although the intent of it is open to interpretation, the message is fairly clear. In case there was any doubt:

“It is in itself sinful for a woman to wear man’s clothes, or vice versa;
especially since this may be a cause of sensuous pleasure;
and it is expressly forbidden in the Law [Deuteronomy 22]”
~Thomas Aquinas

We can’t have people dressing up for fun, can we? That would be bad thing, surely! Once it was established that certain clothes are not for men (or women), and that cross-dressing was immoral, the concept could tap into people’s sense of disgust.

2) Thwarted expectations and cognitive dissonance

The idea that cross-dressing is immoral can lead to people being disgusted, but I suspect there’s more to it than that.  If someone (a straight man, say) sees what appears to be a woman he finds sexually attractive, and then discovers that the woman is actually a cross-dressing man, this can lead to cognitive dissonance: “How could I find a man attractive? I’m not gay!”

Depending on how easy-going the man is, he could shrug it off, or congratulate the cross-dresser on being convincing. On the other hand, if the man was brought up in a conservative, religious culture where homosexuality is to be feared, he will respond with resentment – the merest suggestion that he might be gay won’t result in a moment of quiet reflection of what it means to be attractive, but a knee-jerk response of anger.

3) “False advertising”

Why might someone be angry at cross-dressing? Well, if men assume that women dress for men’s benefit, advertising sexual availability (and we’re just getting started at dispelling that idea), then they are likely to think that men who dress in women’s clothing must want to have sex with men too, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of cross-dressers are straight. In this view, cross-dressers are trying to ‘trick’ innocent men.

“If someone wears a skirt, they must want  to be fucked by a man” is victim-blaming; it’s the myth people can tell themselves to avoid the realisation that what’s really going on is the thought, “If someone wears a skirt, men must want to fuck them.”

Changing attitudes won’t happen quickly, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen at all.

“It’s all about aesthetics, and it’s fuck-all to do with morality.”
~Renton, Trainspotting

I suppose I could have summarised this whole post with this image:

From Art of Trolling at Cheezburger