CLAIR, SHE / HER
Self-expression has always been a battle for me, being entirely in secret until recently for fear of rejection. It was a little over a year ago that I first left my house as my true self. Since then, I've had the opportunity to expand and learn what is "expected" to be worn, but I'm still exploring to find what is really me outside of those expectations.
The first look kind of scared me. It felt so awkward, forced, disgusting, fake... It brought to the surface so many visceral feelings of having to create a male persona just to get by. My memories with suits weren't always bad, but having come this far and even thinking about going back makes me nauseous. If my cousin hadn't been there with me during this portrait, I might have vomited. The fact that it was a borrowed suit I think makes the representation clearer that this was a persona that I am divorced from.
Sometimes when something is faked for so long, it can be hard to remember what real even is. And I think that's why I brought so many outfits for Look 1. I'm still not 100% sure who I am now that I can be me. There's more than one reason they call transitioning a "second puberty" I guess.
I ended up choosing to style myself with gifts that were given to me by women in my family. One of the armbands my sister brought back from Senegal represents the transition into womanhood. The dress itself was a gift from my mom (it's also really comfortable so that helps). The shoes were the first pair of heels I picked out and bought by myself, and even the choker was a gift from my trans-sister.
I can easily remember the first time I ever went clothes shopping, feeling so nervous and scared at a Forever 21. I definitely didn't pass and the looks I got were enough to make me want to crumble into a million pieces. But I thankfully had a friend with me at the time. Since then I've been able to become more confident in shopping alone, but it has definitely been a process! There's just so much to learn!
It just feels so good and natural and happy and amazing to be in a dress. I love them immensely, and yes, I definitely do the twirl in the mirror every time I put one on, it's mandatory. I can't really describe the feeling of euphoria that I get every time I see myself in the mirror now. It's the best feeling I've ever felt, everything else pales in comparison to it really.
Having both looks in the same space really helped parallel how far I've come and how confident I am that this is the right path for me. I love being a woman every fucking minute of every day.