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: 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!