Ask Dr. Kit
“Those Lips! Those Eyes! That Stubble!” The New York Times, Wednesday, October 19, 2016 9C1
A curious article appeared in the New York Times this week. The article begins “My favorite person on Instagram these days is a guy who matches his makeup to his snacks.” There were four large photos of Skelotim in full dramatic makeup holding up the snack which inspired his look. Then the article went on to show two other emerging make-up-wearing men and to discuss what the emerging trend of “beauty boys”. After I read this article I wondered how it had been received at CDI. In the article there was no talk of gender identity, of transgender or crossdressing. It was about men in make-up, though we really do not know what the future holds for the men in the photos and weather at a later date any of them might embrace a more nuanced or feminine gender identity.
The quote that struck me the most was this: “These ‘beauty boys.’ As they’re sometimes called are not just being accepted into the mainstream beauty world. They are helping to give the cosmetics industry a much-needed makeover. Maybelline’s mantra – ‘Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.’ – called on women to fix their flaws with makeup tricks and to present as natural beauties. Male beauty gurus deconstruct that illusion. They recast makeup not as a supplement for natural deficiencies, but as a form of joyful creation.” (Page. C5)
This “form of joyful creation” cited in the article reminds me of the exuberant approach to femininity that may be characteristic of some crossdressers and also transgender women (especially early in transition). I believe that most women who have lived full-time as women for decades lose this special enjoyment. So certainly this new “form of joyful creation” could be the result of a new freedom to use makeup. After all, it is still taboo for men to use makeup and these “beauty boys” are renegade, even now. But my first reaction was that when the makeup was used to enhance male beauty it was “a form of joyful creation” and when used by women (of all genders) it was a daily obligation to cover their flaws, to make them feel more presentable and less bad about their appearance. And perhaps there is an intersection in this that finds a place in the membership of CDI. Who feels that they are not feminine enough? Not perfect enough? Not ready to present in daylight? And who is having fun? Letting themselves joyfully revel in makeup and clothing for its own sake? I will refrain from trying to answer these questions and just leave it as a question.
The multitude of feminine expression represented within the CDI membership can be divided along many lines. Do you use make up for joyful creation? Or is it part of an effort to reduce a sense of deficiency? Pleasure, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, fulfillment and frustration, all come into play in front of the makeup mirror. It is good to remember that this is not only an issue for crossdressers, but for women – regardless of their assigned gender.
Best to you all,
Dr. Katherine Rachlin is a clinical psychologist, gender specialist, and sex therapist in private practice in New York City. Her website is www. katherinerachlin.com. You can reach her at email@example.com or 212-206-3636