I had that photoshoot done in 1996, just after first going to the Northern Concord. That is my first wig, and a Gina Bacconi dress I loved- necklines go up and down, but if they were down at the time I had not noticed- and some bridesmaid’s dresses from charity shops, because I liked bridesmaid’s dresses. I followed instructions, but did not fully relax: the messing about with net curtain felt silly. My eyes look watchful to me, now. I wanted to feel I could look like a woman, and I succeeded: I surprised Don just now. This was better than the group photo from the Sibyls. It was 6″x4″, the faces were millimetres across, and I took it into the office and asked various people which they thought were the “real women”. They all said, immediately, correctly, “That one, that one and that one”- a priest and two wives.
I had my photo taken professionally several times until 1999, when I went out twice with the photographer, and she said after I drove her home, “I wanted to make you feel vulnerable like men have made me feel vulnerable”. She had succeeded. Again, I love the look.
The third new page, Photo Fun, is some photos taken mostly from 1996-2002. They meant a lot to me at the time. They are snaps, and I still look feminine enough. I love the one at the end, with the gorgeous bird on my arm, and two in the middle with a wonderful woman. I wanted to show them to you, and I am particularly desperate for comments today as I want to feel and know I am heard and seen.
I was looking at photos of myself, a lot. Many of us did: B had a three film a week habit- go somewhere, take several photos, with little variety in them. I wanted to imagine I could look female, and I imagined that, but needed new photos constantly. Until recently I had four large albums of the best of each shot, and four albums of seconds- that Sunshine photo took a dozen or more attempts- and then this year I threw out most of them, keeping the best.
Doing this, I felt great shame, and I kept doing it. I was conflicted: I wanted to transition, and was terrified to. Now, I look back on those photos and feel
I look at my complexion and see the lines in it, the lines in the forehead, the grey in the hair. Not quite most of my hair yet, and it is an advantage of wearing wigs that it need not show. The shame I felt in my thirties, and the difficulty I have now in trying to know myself and be myself- not unique, I know, yet it feels so much work and I want so much to have done it. The resentment of how I have hidden away and run away and been so frightened. And- then, I could look like that.
Oh, construct something. That is- me. That is who I am, even now. I am beautiful, the whole of me is beautiful, my physical appearance is-
Not to be compared with anything to make me feel bad.
The very beautiful -now- Nicole Cody, with her own particular difficulties, has been wrestling productively with the issue of Looks– and physical abilities, a frightening matter. And Cathy Ulrich is celebrating her Crone-hood.