Today is a good day. Yesterday was a horrible day, but part of recovering from a low is to forgive the past and move on. Allowing yourself to wallow too much in the past creates a great deal of suffering, just as worrying too much about the future will create anxiety (another form of suffering). So, as such, I am embracing today as another opportunity to live a life true to myself.
Since I didn’t post over the weekend, I think today would be a good day to talk about the successes and defeats I had over the last few days. On Saturday I was finally brave enough to wear my new makeup (purchased with my birthday money from the week before) out in public. I’ve worn my makeup out to a friend’s small social gathering (see my previous post), but there was no real risk of having to engage with the public during that outing. This time I put on my face knowing full well that we were going out to dinner at a restaurant and would be doing grocery shopping at, not one, but three separate stores. I’d like to say my makeup was perfectly applied, but that would certainly be a lie. If anything, my first real attempt without the assistance of my wife was nothing short of a disaster, but I decided to chalk the failure up to the learning curve. Practice makes perfect, right?
So, once I put on my new liquid foundation (I have the “fancy” Almay stuff that changes color to match your skin tone, which I just love BTW), my almost nude-colored lipstick, my eyeliner, some poorly applied mascara, and my new eye shadow, I was ready to face the world. My wife gave me a loving smile that one might give baby who had smeared pudding all over their face, and reassured me that it was a good “early attempt.” After that we left the apartment and my anxiety spiked a little as we passed by a few of our neighbors. To my relief (and disappointment) none of them took much notice of my wife and I, or my makeup. Once down to the car we decided it might be best to hit two of our three grocery stores before dinner since the restaurant was closest to the last store, and then we were off.
Our first stop was Whole Foods (because we are the yuppy, vegetarian, organic types), which was practically overrun with shoppers. Despite the packed store, I only noticed a small number of people giving me awkward looks or staring in confusion. At first, I tried to avoid eye contact with my fellow shoppers who seemed to notice something was off about me. I’ll admit that I felt a bit like a fish out of water and actually started regretting my decision to wear my makeup. This anxiety and regret came to a spearhead when we were finally at the checkout station and the guy (probably in his early 20’s) bagging our groceries did a very obvious double take at me. He even went so far as to stare at me with wide and confused eyes. I wish now, looking back at it, that I would have had the courage to look him straight in the eye, but I didn’t. Instead I stood there silently, feeling my skin crawl as I observed his almost horrified expression from the corner of my eye. Eventually he realized he was being rude and returned to bagging our groceries and avoiding any kind of eye contact. I’m certain he said something to the cashier he was working with after we stepped away, but I couldn’t make out what was said.
After we walked out of the store, my wife and I both lamented and laughed about the incident. Although I felt almost ashamed of myself for the way he’d stared at me, it made me feel a great deal better to know that my wife had noticed his poor reaction as well. From there we walked back to the car, deposited our first round of provisions, and then proceeded on foot to the second stop on our trip (the stores share a parking lot, for reference).
On the somewhat lengthy walk to the next store I made a decision about how I was going to proceed. I figured that because I’d already had one of the worst reactions I was expecting to get, that there was no further reason to feel ashamed of myself. In the next store, I decided, I would no longer try to avoid eye contact with people who noticed my makeup. On the contrary, I vowed (and succeeded) with keeping my chin up and looking each person in the eye as they mentally grappled with the appearance of a “man” wearing rather obvious makeup. The effect of this action was astounding. Instead of getting lingering stares and expressions of confusion or even revulsion, I was met with either a smile or a quick glance away. You see, my dear friends, people are less prone to openly judge and condemn a person who is confident in themselves. I chose to (pretend to) be confident in my decision to wear makeup in public, and as a result no one questioned or condemned me. Sure, several people still seemed a bit alarmed by my appearance, but my confident smile and body language caused them to fold under the social pressure.
The important lesson I learned, and I hope others will learn as well, is that your average stranger wants to avoid conflict at all costs. Additionally, most people are so insecure about themselves that when they are met with someone else who is (or at least appears to be) confident in themselves, they have no ground to stand on for condemnation or ridicule. Their will completely folds under the will of a perceived superior confidence level. I’m not talking about intimidation here; I wasn’t getting in their face or holding my arms out in a “do you dare to challenge me, mere mortal” kind of way. All I was doing was holding my head high, looking them in the eye, smiling at them, and not allowing any of them to see my insecurity about my appearance.
After this discovery everything went smoothly from then on. No one else dared to stare at me or give me a look of revulsion/horror. No one else dared to whisper to another after I passed by. Everyone either avoided eye contact (folding under the pressure of my superior confidence level) or treated me with respect and dignity. As such, I’ve decided that when future situations arise where I’m feeling insecure about my gender expression, instead of allowing myself to feel ashamed or vulnerable, I’m going to feign confidence, and I’m going to continue to feign confidence until I am ACTUALLY confident. You have to fake it till you make it, right?
Well, that’s all I have for this entry.