The ritual begins with a quick shower. Depending on what I plan to wear, I may shave my legs, or I may decide against it, but I usually do. Even if I’m just wearing jeans, I like the feel of pantyhose on freshly shaven legs. And yes, I usually wear pantyhose, even in jeans. I love the way they feel.
After I’m out of the shower, I’ll go into the bedroom and start to dress. I try to avoid looking at myself in the mirror at this point because all I see is a middle-aged man staring back at me. Once I’m finished dressing, I’ll put on my shoes and then head to the mirror to do my make up. I have no choice but to look at myself at this point.
Looking into the mirror, I’m confronted with ridiculousness of the sight. I’m 39, clean shaven, and after almost fifteen years, I feel naked without my goatee. I steel myself and prep my face and then begin my ritual. I like to present a natural appearance, so my make-up is minimal yet necessary. I apply concealer to my beard area that doesn’t quite hide everything, but I’m still searching for the right products that work with my face.
I pat my foundation on, followed by my powder. Next I being working on my eyes. I’m using liquid eye-liner at the moment, and it’s interesting to use, but I still haven’t quite mastered the technique. I fumble forward and apply my eye shadow, followed by mascara. Once done, I brush on some blush, apply a second layer of powder to set everything in, and finally I’ll do my lips.
I glance into the mirror to see my handiwork, and I feel silly. I’m the clown in my own private hell. I close my eyes before I turn to walk away. I glance at the full-length mirror and catch the middle-aged creep staring back at me, looking like the laughing stock I feel at that moment.
I slip on my wig cap, followed by my wig, and the man disappears. It’s at that moment that I emerge, no longer silly, no longer ridiculous, but a woman as I feel I am. I touch up hair, give my make-up a once over, then I step in front of the mirror and I’m looking into an alternate reality, one where the person looking back at me is the person I know I am. I feel beautiful and I’m mesmerized by the look of contentment that appears on her face. It’s the same look I know I’m radiating.
In that moment when I slip on my wig, I’m transformed, and I’m aware of the transformation. It washes over me and I become a new person, a happier person. I pause before stepping out of the bedroom and into the living room to show my friend, and she usually gasps appreciatively. I’m complete.
I take a few pictures of myself, selfies to memorialize the stolen moments I have away from the prying eyes of society. I share them online, a concession to my need to be accepted by my peers. A few make unwelcome comments, a little to sexual, a little too graphic. Sometimes they are desperate pleas for attention. I’m cautious about who I reveal myself to. I don’t hesitate to block those who make me uncomfortable. I’m not here to be someone’s fetish.
I remain me for a few hours before I peel away the layers and the magic fades into memory. I come down from my momentary high, back too this haze of oppression by body locks me in. I look at the pictures, and I read the comments online, smiling as I think about how happy I feel being Stefani. I envy those who have had the strength to go full time, to transition completely. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to.
But for a few hours I got to be me, and it was glorious!