The way we present ourselves to the world can become an integral part of our identities. Societal standards of beauty--natural beauty at that--are a source of anxiety and dysphoria for trans and cis women alike. Too often we are told that our skin is too blemished, our hair is too unruly, and our natural, God-given features are too unkempt to be loved. The messages that cosmetic companies perpetuate against those without bump-less, flawless skin, force women to turn to makeup in order to conceal, cover up, and camouflage themselves. These messages have particularly influential effects on trans women who get socialized as male in public places.
Don’t get me wrong, I love makeup! Makeup is therapeutic. It serves as a coat of armor against the longing, curious stares. The clock-y eyes and vindictive transphobes. It gives me a heightened sense of confidence to look and feel beautiful. However, it becomes an unhealthy coping mechanism when you cannot fathom the thought of leaving the house without getting done up.
For a long time, makeup was my safety net. It was a mood enhancer, a confidence booster, and a defense mechanism. To go without it would mean jeopardizing my passibility and inviting threatening behavior from close-minded people. I couldn’t reason with ever leaving the house without a full face due to the way my natural state was policed and picked apart. So, I clung to my foundations and concealers, and highlighted on my self-assurance. I contoured away the telltale signs of my anatomy in order to feel secure in my appearance. Makeup took away from my confidence in the way I looked underneath it all.
Trans women are often bombarded with rhetoric that challenges our identity as it pertains to the way we look. Our authenticity is questioned and invalidated, as if we paint on our womanhood every morning. For some wrong reason, people think that trans women need makeup to read as women. In a world where acne-prone textured skin is masculinized and clear, smooth skin is feminized, it is hard for trans women to not want to cover up their imperfections. “Natural Beauty” often excludes razor bumps, hyperpigmentation, ingrown hairs, pimple scars, and any other marker of masculinity. It’s unfortunate that society discourages women from embracing their fresh face appearance, but it’s important to love the most base-level, stripped down version of yourself.
Let it be known that a trans woman’s natural beauty is valid.
Watch as culture editor Iv Fischer discusses the implications of natural beauty for trans women.