Trying to Understand Body Dysmorphia
As 2019 continued, I wound up splitting myself in two—the feminine, true-to-myself version of me that I put into the world on nights and weekends, and the somewhat effeminate, but still masculine self I presented to the world during the work week. It became a relief to come home, strip off the more traditionally masculine clothing of the work day, switch to leggings and a t-shirt dress, and be a form of myself that felt more comfortable.
As 2019 progressed, so did my exploration. Living in New York City, I was lucky enough to have access to spaces where it was safe to explore my presentation, my identity, my gender, and I used those spaces to their full potential. The moment where it sunk in about what was missing and where I needed to go, came a few days before Halloween. I was going out to a dance party, and had decided to go out in “costume” as a stereotypical goth girl in a Wednesday Addams dress. In preparation, I bought a black wig, and shaved off my close-cropped beard. When I looked at myself in the mirror, clean-shaven, with the black wig, makeup, dress, and a padded bra, I could only say one word: “Fuck.”
As I looked in the mirror, the ramifications were clear to me, though I was hesitant to follow through. The person in the mirror was who I was supposed to be. The path was clear, but I knew I couldn’t yet walk it. There was fear, there was trepidation, and I needed to address those before I could even consider taking another step down that path. Despite those fear, I consider that night out to be the first time I went out into the world as myself.
This description of body dysmorphia hit me right in the feels. I’ve never felt this way about the appearance I present to the world, but I can imagine that needing to always pretend to be someone you’re not would wreak havoc on your mental wellness.
Happily, though, this story ended with a successful transition, and with support and acceptance from her family and communities.