Saturday 23rd April 2022, age 53, stood outside of the flat where Cindy does her magic in London in a thin New Look maternity shirt dress, sensible ‘mom’ bob hairstyle, ‘7 months’ size false (and heavy) pregnancy bulge firmly attached by straps and adhesive to my bare shaven stomach while a cold wind blows directly up my skirt, making it flap around in a decidedly womanly way. It was one of those delightful ‘how the hell did I get here?’ moments, the combination of feeling vulnerable with the sharp cold feeling around my legs reminding me I was in a frock along with my inner confused man-self going ‘why does my stomach feel so fat’ was a joyously enlightening moment.
Anyway…. I’ve had a rough couple of weeks. I did something, well, a little stupid (translation, a lot stupid) that led me to actually come out to my boss at work about the whole ‘Sarah’ side of me; this is the first person I’ve told in a professional environment and I wasn’t quite myself when I did it (again, translation, if you drink until 6:00am in the morning, sleep for half-an-hour, forget that someone slipped you something illicit to try and then phone your boss at 7:30 when actually unable to remember who, where or actually what you are), but the outcome was fine.
Turns out being non-gender binary isn’t a hanging offence, as my inner voice told me it would be. Where I go from here is another matter but it was the culmination of a number of weeks of feeling miserable, not myself, bothered by the world/finances/getting old, the works. But it’s done and dusted.
And to celebrate, cough, I got myself into London for a couple of sessions. One was something a little different. I have a lovely friend with the same delightful urges I have; we talk a lot about shared experiences, desires, ideas and the like. Unfortunately she is in a much more restricted situation than I am and I feel genuinely bad that she doesn’t get to express herself the way she wants to the outside world when she wants to.
So we hatched a little plan to let her pick the look, fashion and style for one of my shoots; I was genuinely interested what someone else would do with me as a mannequin and also what someone else’s opinion of fashion was. And it was great; I took a lot of delight in telling Cindy that I had no input in the makeup/clothes/poses side (which was actually a weight off the padded shoulders) and my friend had been wonderfully generous in providing clothes, accessories and guidelines.
The first session was only four hours; I drove into London at midday on a Friday (during the kid’s holiday period) which was unbelievably busy. You haven’t lived until you’ve sat in a non-moving queue in the underpass on Euston Road while beggars tap on your window every 30 seconds. I managed to get to Cindy’s place around 14:00, zipped off and checked in to the hotel (I’m always paranoid about checking in after a session; the glitter on the eyebrows, cheeks, everywhere is a little bit of a give-away), then back to Cindy for the ‘styled by a friend’ session.
It was a *lot* of fun. We went for a much paler foundation and smoky, almost Goth-like look, with extra large CSL (Carrot Sucking Lips is an almost correct definition, replace the C with whatever you want). We did three looks based on two outfits, the first being an adorable cardigan/jumper I had actually came 30 seconds away from buying myself (my friend and I have very similar retro sensibilities) and black denim ‘hipster’ skirt, the second a darling off-the-shoulder-ish black top from HellBunny with leopard-skin collar, combined with a circle skirt and petticoat for that 1950’s girl-about-town look.
I’ll do another blog post imminently to cover the second day (we actually replicated the makeup look because both myself and Cindy fell in love with the effect) which was a longer seven hour session (involving the pregnant ‘mommy’ look I described at the start).
For hair we decided to try something different; the first look involved a redhead look combined with a lovely leopard-skin headscarf from my friend, along with some shots with some retro sunglasses (again from my friend). Then we went completely different with a severe Betty Page style black wig, along with a red flower to accentuate the colour. The last look had a more modern blonde/black roots wig and a fetching scarf around the throat, very 1950’s ‘off to the soda bar’ look.
It was a really fun experience to let someone else take the reins on the look and style, and I can’t thank my friend enough for her generosity. Like a lot of people of my age and background we get all tongue-tied when trying to thank people who are actually nice to us (when you’re brought up a certain way by people who don’t show you empathy, love or friendship you automatically assume everyone is going to be unpleasant) so I’ve done a poor job of communicating to her directly how much this meant to me, and how much I was touched by her choices and sheer generosity. So I’m cheating a bit and putting it in a blog for everyone to read (including her as I know she’s a big fan of the blog site). You know who you are; I love your sensitive nature, sweetie.
Anyway, that was, as the actress said to the bishop, a quickie. I’ll do a write-up of the longer session, which generated what I think is the best picture (she says, modestly) I’ve ever had taken (and yes, it’s at the end of this blog because I can’t be patient) when I get some more spare time.
Stay beautiful, bask in the love of true friends and don’t let the world get you down.