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Do We Have to Be Sexy?

A transgender woman contemplates why we conform to societal standards of beauty instead of just being ourselves.

My homework was all finished. I had nothing else to do for the day, so I thought maybe I would go to the bookstore and get one of those cold blended coffee chillers and pick up a poetry book. The first thing that had sprung to mind was that I needed to get ready. But wait, do I really have to get ready? The more important question is, why do I feel I have to get ready? Out and about I’ve seen so many cis-women in sweatpants, baggy sweaters, ponytails, and not a thing of makeup, so why can’t I do that? The answer is, I can do that!

I briefly mentioned in my past article that I joined a dating app, and I’ve found some interesting people on there. When it had come to picking my photos, I wanted to showcase what I think is my best physical quality, which I would like to think is my smile. However, I wanted people to see that I was slim (Since I’ve worked my butt off in getting into this shape!). I wrote something like “I’m a nice 6’1” trans girl trying to make it in the big bad world of online dating.” I threw in some smiley faces, I wrote who I am, what I do, and that I wanted to meet someone nice to go on dates. All the men who were interested in me were so complimentary in their first message, and they all used words like beautiful and sexy. Around the third message, they all gravitated to sex. And so, the search continued for a good conversation, and so the sexy and beautiful comments came, followed by the sex messages. I know trans people are like some sort of unicorn due to our beauty and “rarity,” but I’m starting to believe that the real unicorn is a good man! They’re hard to find!

"HAVE I BOUGHT INTO THIS MAINSTREAM OBJECTIFICATION OF WOMEN BY FORGING MYSELF INTO THAT VERY OBJECT OF DESIRE?"

This has made think of the comments, of being sexy and beautiful. It made me think of how cis women get treated the same way, and how women overall are objectified in all media forms. Have I bought into this mainstream objectification of women by forging myself into that very object of desire?

This is all very interesting. Let’s think of it as the subjects are the ones who enjoy the over sexualization of women (Trans women included of course). The objects are the ones who are objectified. The subjects can be men who are visually drawn to the sexuality that women portray. This can be found in media, how women are used to advertise everything from shoes to tires. Sometimes, the entire advertisement can be the objectification of a woman! Women can also fall as the subjects, for some products use women’s good looks to attract customers, such as the ones selling weight loss products or lingerie. In this manner, women are shown a form of “perfection.” If you don’t look like this model and use this product then you are falling short of the standard.

The objects: women, all women. We go from the subject to object once we buy in to the idea of becoming a perfect woman according to societal standards. We buy everything from makeup, certain clothing brands, and shoes. We cut our hair in ways that we see as “popular” or liked. And some of us put ourselves through torturous diets to try and achieve a certain body type.

For us trans women, it can be even more difficult to attain this perfection. For example, I am 6’1” in height, and I weigh 158 pounds. I’ve struggled with my weight, yes even at this weight that I have! (Yes, I realize this problem and I am getting help for it). It’s taken time to accept that cis women my height weigh less than me, but I need to remember that as much as it may hurt, I was physically born male. My anatomy is different, and it can potentially weigh more. I’ve struggled with the fact that a woman my height can be up to 20 pounds lighter than me, and its been an issue my whole life: especially once I began transition.

Weight is just one thing; I’ve also struggled with my facial features. This of course is one thing that all trans women have been known to struggle with. But it’s so interesting to learn that cis women struggle with this as well! Who doesn’t want that perfect contoured, high cheek, big beautiful eyed, smooth skin baby face right? Or those gorgeous long legs? Or those perfect sized perky breasts? We could keep going and going and once we accept to live by society’s standards and not our own, it can be very expensive, and most of all, heartbreaking.

"THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PART OF US IS THAT EACH OF US IS INDIVIDUALLY UNIQUE AND BEAUTIFUL."

We must accept ourselves as much as possible. The most beautiful part of us is that each of us is individually unique and beautiful. It’s easy to say it, but it is much harder to accept it and live with it. I had an epiphanic moment at a grocery store when I noticed that nobody was really paying attention to me. They saw me as a tall girl in military uniform, and nothing more. It hit me that they saw me, Olivia, as I am, and not as I see myself or as I wish I would look like. It made me think that I am a person, an individual with a unique face, and without expectation to be anything but myself. At least for that moment, it gave me peace of mind and security in my identity as an individual.

If we become the perfect object, then we unequivocally enter into this perfect role of submission to the mainstream. We are under no obligation to be sexier or more desired due to our desired gender identity. We are under no obligation to look like anyone but ourselves. Remember to be yourself; your unique trans beautiful self.

"All the men who were interested in me were so complimentary in their first message, and they all used words like beautiful and sexy”

I spent two hours with a guy one night at dinner, that I had good reasons (including hindsight) to think it was just dinner and talk, it turned into groping (not well received), talking to others their response was - well you spent two hours with a guy -, while I knew that, it also had to marinate some, it’s sad state of affairs that that is what it is about for many. I’m not old, but I’m old enough for people my age that are dating you’ve never married (there’s a reason for that), your cheating, your divorced, or widowed, it adds a whole new dimension.

I think WPATH helps make this a problem, FtM never have this issue (IMHO) and the other aspect is I finally get to be me and want to look as good as possible HOWEVER I find myself doing that for anything from a facial to a meeting. Loving being me is still worth more than anything. Some days when I am tired or sick though it is offset by changing my top five times before I get to the face and out the door and worse when only I notice how good I look. the FtM's I know just walk out the door and sloppy is 'success'. Ugh.

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