Tag Archive | "cross dressers"

Anything Goes!

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Playing dress up is one of life’s little guilty pleasures.  Almost every little girl has surreptiously ransacked her mother’s belongings in order to appropriate them, usually on rainy days when we were bored, or when our mothers’ backs were turned.  Who can forget the slightly forbidden thrill of easing open our moms’ closets to select just the right dress for that fantasy occasion?  The frocks, of course, trailed behind us like the Mummy’s death cloths.  To mitigate our lack of height, we wee lassies then stepped into our mothers’ high heels, grabbed a purse, and were all set to go.  To complete our outfits, we clipped Mama’s earrings to our ears (ouch!) and demolished many a tube of lipstick, by applying the color while having not quite mastered our fine motor skills.


I remember once foregoing the actual garments and donning my mother’s bra and panties.  Armed with her hunter green alligator pumps and matching handbag (my very favorites), I announced that I was off to see the doctor for my appointment.  My parents howled with laughter and shared the joke with the entire family.  But had I been a boy and not a girl, I wonder what their reaction might have been.


People unsure of their sexuality often begin by experimenting with the apparel and accouterments of the opposite sex.   If women emulate Julie Andrews’ character from the film Victor, Victoria, they’ll learn the secrets for passing as a man.  However, it’s much harder for a man to try to get by as a woman.  The other day, for example, I encountered a cross-dressing male who’d made a real botch job of it.  The sticky tape he’d used to push together his “breasts” was visible, as were the wiry chest hairs curling out of the top of his V-neck dress.


While he should have studied the feminine wiles more closely if he’d intended to venture out in a frock, it boggles my mind why any man would want to put himself through the beauty rituals of women.  We are high maintenance!  It takes time, patience, money, and a lot of angst to look fine.  We shave our legs, but not every day.  As men have five o’clock shadows, they may need to shave closely more than once a day!  And, the art of cosmetics is just that, an art.  The way an artist applies paint to a canvas, so does a woman, to her face: with careful planning and forethought. Much like a good representational painting, she must strike a delicate balance between enhancement and a natural look.  If too much make-up looks bad on a woman, it sure as heck is not going to look any better on a man!


A proper, properly fitting, wig is also a must.  If the quality is lacking, the guy masquerading as a gal will look like nothing more than that, for the wig will appear no better than part of a Halloween costume.


Men must take extra care to keep their hands soft and smooth, and good luck to them in that endeavor; any woman knows how difficult it is to maintain her hands.  Night and day, day and night, as Cole Porter wrote, we lather them with all sorts of creams and lotions, and blow money in salons to get perfect manicures.  Any cross-dressing man or potential cross dresser will benefit from the following tip.  Soft tints of nail polish look best on short nails, whereas long nails can carry bolder colors.


As the saying goes, clothes make the man, and guess what?  They also make the woman.  Since men’s breasts tend to be a lot less voluptuous than women’s, they’ll want to conceal the fact that they’re wearing “falsies” by avoiding low-cut tops and dresses.  If a man does wish to bare part of his chest, he’ll have to shave or wax it, unless he wants to see the general populace upchuck as he waltzes by.   Again, I have no idea why a man would want to confine his upper body to a bra (I hate it!).  But if he does, more power to him — particularly if he purchases a well-constructed bra, such as one by Victoria Secret or another good brand.  There should be no skimping on bras!


Wearing the right shoes is also essential.  A guy shouldn’t start out in high heels, sling backs, or kitten heels.  Kitten heels are those dainty and dangerous little curved heels that give zero support under the ball of the foot. If I’ve twisted my ankle in these things, just imagine the damage a man might do.  And men, pretty please with sugar on top, don’t forget your legs.  If you think gorilla-fur legs under a dress are a pretty sight, they are not!  So be sure to shave or wax them before baring them in public.


Not every man who likes to play dress up wishes to live as a homosexual or undergo radical sex-change surgery.  Some men who like donning ladies’ things claim that it’s a way to relieve stress.  Part of this may stem from having to wear suits and ties to the office.   Many women like to unwind by slipping on a little silky camisole or nightie after a long hard day’s work.  I suppose that some men just want to do the same.


Then again, some men don’t.


Mel Gibson’s character in the film, What Women Want, was one such man.  A chauvinistic, womanizing advertising honcho, he finds his position in the food chain threatened by his new boss, who is a woman (Helen Hunt).  That woman orders Mel, as a marketing assignment, to experiment with a sampling of feminine products.  He screamed his lungs raw when he waxed his legs, poked himself in the eye with a wand of mascara, and shoved his nether-regions into a pair of pantyhose the way that an Inquisitor may have pushed some pour soul into an Iron Maiden.  When his body received a strong electrical jolt, Mel’s brain got re-wired so that he could hear — and was tortured by — the thoughts of every woman who comes within ten feet of him.


An inspired twist on the usual man-dressing-as-woman movie, What Women Want had a number of comedic cinematic predecessors.  Starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon in the 1959 flick, Some Like it Hot, the men resort to cross-dressing in order to evade the mob after witnessing a murder.  In 1982, Dustin Hoffman portrayed a woman in the blockbuster, Tootsie, co-starring his character’s love interest, played by Jessica Lange.  An actor who can’t get hired because of his histrionic behavior with producers and directors, Hoffman goes “under cover”.  As an “actress”, he becomes not only a huge hit in the soap opera world, but a role model for every woman who’d ever been sexually harassed or downtrodden because of her gender.


One of my personal favorites was the movie, Mrs. Doubtfire.  In this 1993 film, the wild and wacky Robin Williams is denied custody of his children by his wife, Sally Field, who has just divorced him.  Desperate to see his children, Williams dons the guise of a dumpy, initially innocuous housekeeper who later turns out to be hell on wheels.  The following year, Robin Williams starred, with Nathan Lane and Gene Hackman, in the riotous Bird Cage.  A homosexual living in Florida, Williams’ character does not “dress up.”  But he does own and operate a club that features women impersonators, including his own lover.  It’s a-laugh-a minute when the gay guys pull one stunt after the other to throw Gene Hackman off the scent.  Hackman, you see, plays a prominent, tight-laced Senator who visits Williams just before his daughter is scheduled to marry Williams’ son.


A number of other actors have “taken the dress” in Hollywood flicks.  These include Johnny Depp in Glen or Glenda, Will Smith in Wild West, and Patrick Swazye and Wesley Snipes in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything.  I would be remiss if I did not mention the late, great Three Stooges, particularly the short in which Curly wore a Shirley Temple wig and a sweet little … okay, not so little … pinafore in order to pass as a little … okay, not so little … girl.


While there is humor to be found in these situations when they are relegated to art, things are apt to turn serious when carried into one’s personal life.  Some couples like to enhance their sexual pleasure by dressing up behind closed doors.  Before donning the apparel favored by the opposite sex, one would be prudent to gauge the feelings of one’s partner.  Something of this nature, sprung suddenly upon an unsuspecting partner, could have emotional repercussions for both parties and may damage the relationship irrevocably.


It’s also not a good idea to disguise oneself as a woman and fool a randy man into thinking that one is the genuine article.  Police blotters and emergency rooms nationwide have seen too many cases of cross-dressers beaten up, or worse, by men who’d assumed they were picking up women for a good time.  Do you remember the film, The Crying Game, with the great Irish actor Stephen Rhea?  If so, then you remember how shocked, hurt, and disgusted he was when he finally discovered that his beautiful and mysterious love interest, Dil, was actually a man.


Society is slow to accept change, but change comes inevitably.  Famous couture designer Coco Chanel first stunned the world with her swimsuits.  Although they had lots of coverage by today’s standards, the public still sent up a hue and cry over their scantiness.  Later, Coco scorched her hair as she prepared to enjoy a night at the opera.  Instead of hiding beneath a hat, she cut off most of her locks and showed up at the opera, thus creating the initially scandalous “bobs”.  So, while some people prefer to keep His and Hers separate, others are more broad-minded when it comes to gender bending.  Given enough time and persistence, cross-dressing men will be better tolerated in this world where, as the late ’60’s song says, “anything goes.”


Anything Goes (chorus)

 

In days of old

A glimpse of stocking

Was looked on

As something shocking.

Now heaven knows,

Anything goes! 

Gender Bender

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It's Pat

I am not sure if you have noticed.  Perhaps if you had been born into my generation, you have.  But if you are a younger person (and, like all things, that term “younger” is relative), you may not have noticed the turning tide or what that tide has left on the shoreline of our society.  You see, women seem to have embraced a more masculine side and guys seem to have found their feminine side. The other day while working at my customer service job, a lady entered my place of business … at least, I came to the conclusion that it was a lady.  I had to inquire of someone else, asking, “Hey do you think that customer was a man or a woman?”  The woman I had queried took a second look to try to figure it out.  The first gender-suspect customer was the second person in the same 24 hours to leave me scratching my head as to their sex.  Here’s why…

 

Women today seem to be getting their hair cut shorter and shorter; some favor military or flattop styles.  In days gone by, a woman’s hair was her crowning glory; its length was a thing of pride. Piled atop a woman’s head, it allowed her to look elegant out in public, particularly at special events.   When women began to bob their hair in the early 1930’s, one artist was moved to create a song that became oh so popular at the time.  Its chorus went, “Please don’t bob your hair, girls, please don’t bob your hair!”   Well, women ignored that plea.

 

On the opposite side of the coin, men began growing their hair longer, leaving in the dust the trusty neighborhood barber who gave the same short cut to every man and boy.  Now many men frequent the same salons as their wives, girlfriends, and sisters, demanding not only the latest styles but also hair coloring and perms. Men are also accessorizing their hair with colorful beads a la the Stevie Wonder look as well as “scrunchies,” which were once reserved as adornments for women’s tresses.  Men now have as many styling products sitting on their bathroom shelves, as do ladies.  A comb and a “little dab’ll do ya” used to be their most essential tools, but now it is hair gels, hair spray, mousse, round styling brushes, and blow dryers.

 

Another thing that I have noticed is the amount of jewelry that guys wear these days.  No longer is men’s jewelry confined to a simple gold chain, a wedding band, a class ring, and of course, a watch.  Now they are wearing more bling than Mr. T, the character on the old TV series, the A-Team, who wore so much gold around his neck, he appeared to have stripped a mine clean of its ore.  With their ears pierced several times, men now wear not only an earring in each ear but several flashy pieces in each ear!   The weight of some of the necklaces being worn now by men leads me to wonder if consultations with chiropractors are on the rise.  Rings are worn on every finger as well as the thumb. Timex watches are old news; now fake Rolexes are in.  The more faux diamonds the better and the more gizmos the watch has, the better.

 

Another adornment that has changed with the times is the hat.  Hats used to be a status symbol.  The more expensive or fancier the hat, the greater was the wearer’s importance in society, including his or her economic stability.  In the Edwardian age, fortunes were spent creating exotic hats with plumes.  It was not considered proper etiquette to be seen in public with one’s head uncovered by a hat and one’s hands bare of that other genteel affectation, gloves.  Women used to spend much time and money at the milliner shop to have new hats created for special occasions and to usher in a changing season.   Nowadays, the Kentucky Derby is the last bastion where fancy headwear is displayed.  When ladies have a bad hair day now, we are more likely to finger comb it, tie it back, and jam a baseball cap on our heads.  Sometimes, we throw an old beret on or, much more rarely, wrap a scarf around our heads.

 

The application of cologne is another thing that has really made a big difference in the male population.  So much for the exclusive use of Right Guard and Brut to keep the odor away and attract the ladies.  Gone are the days when men used to just slap on a little Old Spice or Aqua Velva and be good to go.  Did you know that in World War II, because it had such a high alcohol content, Aqua Velva was sometimes used as a substitute for an alcoholic beverage?  Now guys need more expensive brands such as Calvin Klein, Versace and Giorgio Armani.  Perfume used to be pretty much a female thing. Women are now wearing the woodsy and spicy scents and getting away from the floral and flowery smells.  If you don’t believe me, open any mail order catalogue that features scents for both sexes (i.e., Caldwell Massey, Yves Rocher) and feast your eyes upon the plethora of scents available, including those that are unisex! 

 

And how about guys who polish their nails?  I’m not just talking about modern day Goths whose fingertips are painted black.  The manicures for men began with the advent of leisure suits.  One snag on a pure polyester jacket or pair of trousers and the suit was never the same (and I say bravo to that, for sky blue or lemon yellow poly is just not right on a man).   A professional manicure ensured that ragged cuticles and sharp nails did not ruin the almighty synthetics.  Somehow, though, I still get taken aback a little when I look at a guy’s hands to find them all shiny with clear polish or buffed to within an inch of their lives.   It just seems a bit weird because we think of a man’s hands as being big and a bit rough: working men’s hands.  As women’s hands are usually perceived as delicate and small, we expect to see nail polish on the ladies.

 

Men have become more impeccable with their grooming habits.  No longer being satisfied with the old soap on a rope or a good bar of Ivory or Irish Spring, they now frequent spas to get facials, waxings, eyebrow shaping, seaweed wraps, sugar scrub facials, and even removal of … ewww … nose and ear hair.  Men receive as much enjoyment from pampering treatments as do the ladies when they want to rid themselves of a little stress and emerge looking like pea hens, and peacocks.   The modern man now also likes to indulge in a fragrant shower gel or, ahhhhh, an old fashioned bubble bath.

 

Also, guys seem to enjoy wearing makeup.  Look at how popular Adam Lambert from last season’s American Idol became.  Overt use of mascara, eyeliner, and God knows what else did not stop him for garnering enough votes to land in the Number Two spot.   Middle America voted for him!   Men have facial flaws just like women, and just like women they cover those with foundation products. Other males enjoy being cross-dressers and sometimes when they are out in full regalia, an innocent bystander cannot tell the difference between a transvestite and a real live woman.   As with Adam Lambert who is by no means the only male public figure embracing cosmetics, makeup is used by males to make them look good for the TV cameras. Since men like to look tanned and toned, they use self tanning sprays, too.

 

So prevalent are these practices that country music superstar, Brad Paisley’s, wrote a hit song about them, entitled, “I’m Still a Man.”  Some of the lyrics are:

 

“Nowadays there’s dudes gettin’ facials,
Manicured, waxed and Botoxed.
Spray-on tans and creamy lotion-y hands
That can’t grip a tackle box.
With all of these men linin’ up to be neutered,
It’s hip now to be feminized!”

 

Clothes have been another big adjustment in gender-bender land.  While women lean toward dressing more like guys with heavy work boots, camouflage togs and even boxer shorts, men are balancing the scales by introducing more color in their wardrobes and stocking their closets with the same number of shoes that once made female clothes horses the butt of many jokes.  Like women, men are becoming more aware of what a vital accessory a good pair of shoes is to pulling together the right look.  It used to be popular for men to just wear a solid or a plaid; now they are not embarrassed to wear all the colors in the rainbow.  The male of the species is getting more flamboyant in his dressing habits, with fancier shirts and even the popular brand-named jeans.  I have also heard that many men enjoy wearing ladies undergarments because they enjoy that silky feeling “down under.”   

 

The ultimate accessory, and one of the most expensive are, of course, eye glasses or rather, eye glass frames.   Simple black frames or wire rims have given way to designer styles featuring flashy colored frames with or without decorations.  Some men also eschew the traditional briefcase in order to tote what looks suspiciously like a woman’s handbag, the “manbag.”  Men also now seem to enjoy talking on the phone more and texting friends.  This used to be a female stereotype.  We now have to revise the concept behind the Yiddish word, “yenta,” which was once reserved solely for women who talk too much.

 

The moral of this tale is, “Tread with caution before you address someone with the salutation of sir or madam, because you may have to bite your tongue when you realize that you are mistaken.” 

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