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Seeing Is Not Believing When You Have Dysphoria

A wife of a transgender woman explores what we see in the mirror compared to what other people see when they look at us.

The battle against dysphoria is a continuous cycle in my house, as it is in many others, I am sure. After coming home from an event this past weekend, my wife gave me her usual apology for freaking out about the way she looked while we were getting dressed. Which nine times out of ten makes us late to everything. As I was accepting her apology, I tried to once again reassure her that I would never let her leave the house for an event looking anything less than gorgeous. I then proceeded to scold her for not listening to me in the first place. Her argument was that seeing is believing, and she sees a hideous creature when she looks into the mirror. Inaccurate, I said! You have dysphoria! Then we both busted out laughing.

"I PROCEEDED TO TELL HER THAT THE IMAGE SHE HAS OF HERSELF IS SKEWED, AS IT IS WITH MOST WOMEN, BUT I THINK THAT THE DYSPHORIA AMPLIFIES IT FOR HER."

I proceeded to tell her that the image she has of herself is skewed, as it is with most women, but I think that the dysphoria amplifies it for her. She is seeing features that from her perspective are masculine and shouldn’t be there, and it literally cripples her when it happens. So I went in search of some evidence to prove my point, which she will be reading for the first time here along with all of you. I found an interesting marketing campaign that Dove did. They took a group of women and an FBI forensic sketch artist. The artist was in a room alone listening to the way the women described themselves, then the way that another person described them. The differences between the two sketches were distinct.

The self-described portraits were drastically less attractive than the ones described by other people. Proving that we are more attractive than we think or perceive ourselves to be. Exactly what I have been telling her! As my search continued, I found that our sense of self-image develops through a complicated interplay between cultural ideals, life experiences, and accumulated comments by others. Thus giving us a distorted sense of reality. It is a goulash made up of the teasing we go through as children, the self consciousness we had as teenagers, and our need to be accepted as good enough and attractive enough to fit in.

"SO IT SEEMS THAT A COMBINATION OF EMOTIONS, CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS, AND LIFE EXPERIENCES HAVE A LOT TO DO WITH THE WAY WE PERCEIVE OURSELVES."

So it seems that a combination of emotions, cultural expectations, and life experiences have a lot to do with the way we perceive ourselves. Listening to your best friend constantly rip herself apart has a negative influence on you. The same can be said for body image and dysphoria. Society tells us that you have to be a size six in order to be desirable to a partner. If you look at old portraits it was not always the case. Now let's throw on top of that being transgender and dealing with crippling dysphoria. It's no wonder my wife thinks that she looks like a hideous beast.

My point in all this is to remind not only my wife, and myself, but all of you, that you are more beautiful than you think you are. Society's unattainable expectation of gender affects us all. Being bullied and picked on has had an effect on the way that you see yourself. The image staring back at you in the mirror is not what people see when they look at you. Others can see that beauty better than you ever will. Accept what they tell you and learn to take a complement. Remember that they see what you simply cannot. Never forget that dysphoria is a lying bitch and seeing is not always believing.

Watch Dove’s "You're More Beautiful Than You Think" below:

When I look in the mirror, excepting for a few subtle changes, I see the same face I have seen for 65 years. And for 60 of those years, despite what I knew on the inside, I tried to project the image of a man. It is what society expected of me. I hated the way I looked. It certainly did not match the way I felt. This is true for many trans people. What is and what will be will always be tainted by the memory of what was..

@LeeAnne

"What is and what will be will always be tainted by the memory of what was.."

In transition we don’t give up our past, it is part of us, we change the physical, personality, everyone changes with time, we just change more.

"Society's unattainable expectation of gender affects us all"

I’m sorry it’s called, Unobtanium, it's mined on Pandora.

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