Why We Take Pictures Of Ourselves Constantly
In terms of my audience here, most of my readers, I think, are LGBTQ-type folks, many of them feminine-leaning trans folk or crossdressers (CD). I know some cis people read it now as well, so hopefully, everyone gets something from this post. It's about pictures and why people like me seem so obsessed with producing them of ourselves.
I can't really speak for anyone besides myself, and I believe that like so many things, how trans and CD people think isn't as different from anybody else, by and large. I am finding it's just the details, and possibly the degree differs a bit. I know that I am pretty guilty of thinking I'm the only one that does what I do and thinks like I do. I know I'm not. In fact, because I tend to feel this way contributes to some of my actions, and the taking of pictures is no exception.
To me, it's all about proving oneself. Over and over. And that's not anything that out of the ordinary; I think many of us in all walks of life try to do this for any number of things. Work is one of them. We try to prove our worth to our employer. If you are your own employer, you might be trying to prove that what you do is worthwhile, even if you only answer to yourself. The list is endless.
A lot of people seem to think that trans and crossdressers are narcissistic. Maybe that's true to some extent. That tendency to look inward seems to be fairly prevalent in the groups I have interacted with over many years. But, it's FAR from the whole story. For myself, there's a constant need to fit the narrative, real or imagined. We all know that we can perceive something very different than reality. Everyone's feelings are valid, so perception counts.
I will say also that for many, there can be a fetish element involved in taking pictures. Part of the emotional components to it is wanting to feel sexy. Sexy is a component of attractive. Attractive means you look the part. Looking the part means acceptance, of one's self and from others. The level of need varies, of course, as well as the starting point. Many trans people never have any fetish elements; they are following their hearts from day one.
For whatever reason, a lot of us need that acceptance. The same goes for anything any person does. Producing a great-looking PowerPoint helps increase the acceptance factor in your work project, and is just as enjoyable to produce for some people.
Lots of CD people know exactly why they do it, and lots don't. I didn't know why I did for decades. My crossdressing which was unexplainable even to myself turned into the realization of being trans. The reasons and motivation changed through the years as I learned about myself. Doesn't that sound familiar to you, for some things in your life? We all never stop evolving.
These days, I am driven to be able to navigate the world appearing as I like, which means clothes, shoes, makeup, accessories, all of it. So my impetus is when I do get that opportunity (contrary to some belief, I am still nowhere close to "full-time"), to check myself to see how my effort turned out. A lot of people just do this in the moment, before they go out, or during a bathroom break or look in a small mirror. I think the difference to me is the permanence of the image.
Not only do I need to make sure I look at least okay, but I also need to be able to preserve that image for later, when I feel like maybe I didn't do as well as I thought, or more importantly, that I can't do it AGAIN. At least to the same level, maybe better. Again, it's just the details. Everyone does this to some extent. You save the old Powerpoint and use it as a template for next time. Some need this much more than me; many need it much less.
Maybe this sounds like undue worry and effort. We all should be happy with our images, we shouldn't worry about what others think, but unfortunately, we do. I do. I don't know how the levels of this compare between someone born in one box trying to fit into an alternate box versus anything else in life that a person might not be happy/satisfied with, I just know it's real.
And it doesn't seem to ever go away. Not completely. I have read books and articles and blogs and Twitter posts, you name it, from people that have transitioned. While it does seem very positive for those who complete that journey, they never FULLY complete it. They can still have doubts. Their PowerPoint is never good enough to feel 100% like they fit in.
I'll end with my most recent picture. I am pretty happy with it. It looks like me. I can find the flaws, of which there are many. But I look back at it and it helps. It gives me hope I can live in the world as I want to. It gives me hope I can fit in even better. It gives me hope that one day, I won't worry about achieving my look and I won't worry about how well I fit in. I will just BE.