For all my talk of doing different things and the like I’m pretty much set in my ways; granted five years isn’t a long time to be doing something (and yes, surprisingly Sarah, in her latest and glamorous phase, has only really been about for five years), but when it comes to this delightful fetish I am surprisingly set in my ways.
I’ve done so many brilliant sessions with Cindy that I’ve never really considered going to any other dressing service; Sarah is a singular creation of the mannequin (i.e. me) and Cindy’s amazing skills. But during Covid, like most people, I felt the pressure of not being able to do what I wanted to do; combined with the ‘oh God I’m going to die the minute I get Covid’, fuelled by the media and our ‘the populace has an attention span of 30 seconds’ Government messages, and a subtle yet nagging feeling of getting older, I thought about opening my wings a little and, gasp, trying other services.
So as Covid wound down I looked about; unfortunately a lot of the sessions had shut up shop due to the restrictions, so it took a while for things to open up again. And, fighting down the panic (more in a second) I decided to, well, go for it.
Now you need to understand a little about my messed my psychology to realise this is a massive step; I build safety zones in my head, behaviours, locations and the like. And once I’m comfortable and I know how much pleasure I get from something I just go heads-down obsessed with just doing it that way. Obvious example of this is Starbucks; Starbucks coffee is bloody awful, period. Yet I only drink Starbucks. Because when coffee shops started to rise into ascendancy I had to get courage up to walk in and order, and Starbucks were the first I managed to do that with. So now I drink Starbucks because I have way less anxiety.
And that’s just drinking coffee. Ramp that up to subsuming my entire masculine persona, the shield I hide behind every day, and you have something that, although I love it to bits, fills me with a high degree of anxiety literally every time I do it.
It’s a mix of that awful guilt that hangs around courtesy of my upbringing and social structure, and losing control. Putting on a dress, full face of makeup, unwieldy nails, they all contribute to feeling a loss of control and while I love that feeling it always puts the male me under a lot of stress.
So trying out a new dressing service for me is a massively stressful thing. I am so used to the mannerisms and approaches of Cindy that it has become second nature; I know what she’ll do to my face, I know when to stand, when to sit, when to step in to a dress, when to hold my arms up to take one off, all those little things that for people normally are second nature but for me I have to think about.
Enough psychiatry; I booked a two day session at the relatively new ‘The Girl Inside’ dressing service. Situated near to Bath it’s way easier for me to get to (and doesn’t involve driving/screaming in Central London), in a secluded and beautiful Manor house.
But, and being entirely honest, I was beyond terrified. Firstly I haven’t worked with any makeup artist but Cindy, not counting a couple of early dressing service visits elsewhere. And secondly, and this one was massive to me, I’d never worked with a *male* photographer.
Now that may not sound like much. But for me it’s huge. My fetish/cross-dressing, even though I blatt it across social-media like a man with a megaphone, is a very private thing to me; I share my space and my time with Cindy but she is a friend; I know her and she knows me. This was going to be a session dressed as a woman, modelling women’s clothes, and being posed and photographed by a man.
How would I react? Three weeks in advance and I was already losing sleep. Would I clam up? Would I look at least reasonable? Would I do the opposite, the worst, and switch to a gruff masculine attitude to hide my fear and worry, which was destroy the illusion?
Long story short, none of the above. It was delightful. Being treated as a woman, referred to as a woman during the whole exercise, was bliss in and of itself. The makeup artist was brilliant; a superb and funny Polish lady who was a riot to work with. The photographer and owner was a complete gentleman and I found myself almost in tears; it says something about my life and my history that I never expect, well, kindness from people. And when someone is genuinely kind it makes my soul blip slightly.
Two days of being ‘the model’, including a lovely dinner cooked for me (and a very nice bottle of champagne) by the host where I, gasp, stayed enfemme were wonderful. It was a chance to relax as Sarah; having a conversation over dinner where the other person referred to me by her/my name was amazing and eye-opening; I didn’t get the social anxiety I assumed I would. It felt natural to play the role of the woman in the dynamic of a one on one meal. Scarily so.
Anyway, I did it and I survived. I didn’t bottle out, I didn’t turn into a mumbling, shy, ape in a dress. I was completely at ease and ticked another box of my ‘when Covid finishes I really must….’ checklist.
Pitch time; brilliant experience, lovely people, relaxed and got some utterly beautiful looks and photos. What’s not to love?
I’ll do some frock tales with some of the outfits but all of the pictures in this brief post are from the session.
Stay beautiful and face your fears; they are only scary if you give them head room, which they don’t deserve.