Today is the anniversary of one of the biggest milestones in the evolution of my feminine side: it’s ten years since I first went to the Boudoir dressing service in London.
It was so important because this was the first time I had ever had proper hair, had makeup done professionally and the first time I ever really looked like a woman.
Naturally, it was only when I got the internet at home that this whole emergence thing became a real possibility. In the heady days before Facebook, Google, Wikipedia and WiFi broadband, intrepid webonauts would “dial up” their service and launch their electronic craft upon unknown seas of networked wonders. Who needed YouTube when you could watch Hampsterdance endlessly? And who needed a blog when there was Geocities?
I digress. In those far-flung days I remember tentatively typing the one word, “transvestite”, into a search engine and feared for what might happen when I pressed the Enter button.
Acrtually what happened was a lovely site popped up at the top of the list. It was for Nicola Smith (here she still is after all these years http://www.nicolasmith24.co.uk/index.html ) and her fantastic photos kept referring to the Boudoir. So, eventually, nervously, I rang the number and made an appointment through Sean for November 15th 2004. Yes, I was nervous all right. But I just felt that it was time to really start the process of being myself.
So when I got there Sean showed me in and I met the famous Jodie Lynn and her cat Spike and, to cut the story short, she did her thing, doing my makeup and putting a wig on me. It took at least 45 minutes and I can’t see a thing without my glasses but when I put them on and looked in the mirror I was stunned. Nobody ever forgets that moment when they see themselves as the woman they want to be for the very first time. I was there for 3 hours but it made a profound difference to the whole way I saw my transness.
My coming out then didn’t happen as planned because almost immediately after this visit I got into a long-term relationship. When I was back to progressing my femme side it was early 2008. I had lost two and a half stone, was determined to get out in the world and needed good advice and assistance. So I went back to the Boudoir and discussed my needs, which were clearer now, in more detail. I spent the whole afternoon there. Jodie talked me through the makeup process, put long nails on my fingers, and I tried five different outfits and different wigs. She advised me what clothes would work better on my figure and with my size. (And what’s more, since this was also a treat to myself just before I became redundant at work, she advised me on running a small business, advice which has been of great help.)
Later that year went to the Boudoir a third time and I knew what I wanted. Again, Jodie talked me through the makeup, I suggested what I wanted to wear and the kinds of hairstyles that I was looking for. She even abandoned her standard TGirl wardrobes and lent me some of her own clothes. And it really came together. I felt that my image was how I wanted it. A few days later I returned and bought one of the wigs off her, went to Charles Fox and Mac to get makeup, and practised a lot at home as I got up the courage to venture out in the real world.
Although I’ve not been back since – in many ways I’ve felt that I had found what I wanted (although I must do a professional photoshoot there soon) – I think these three sessions were the best time I have ever spent in my entire life. And it’s nice to bump into Jodie from time to time, at the Way Out Club, Pink Punters, Magic Theatre or Sparkle, where she’s always with ‘her’ girls.
Jodie (and Spike the cat, sadly departed now) was professional and considerate and I had no difficulty explaining and discussing what I wanted. Some say that the Boudoir has a ‘production line’ quality so that everyone ends up looking the same but the fact is that if you just go there and say “make me look like a woman” Jodie will do her wonderful work on a face she’s never seen before and can only guess at. If you discuss with her how you perceive things, then you can get a look that works in a way that particularly suits you. Some people say it’s expensive. I'd sat it’s a professional service and it’s the best money I have ever spent.
|2004: overweight & unsure|
Here’s my transformation:
|spring 2008: slim and experimenting|
|Autumn 2008: confident|
And my close-up:
|2004: I was so thrilled to see myself like this|
|Spring 2008: Cute, but not sure about the brows|
|Autumn 2008: I know this is now me|
And a bit of fun to round off when I asked to look like a teenage girl of the time (this was definitely the fashion in 2008). This is a real tribute to Jodie as it shows how a middle-aged person not blessed with female looks or form can be made to look like a sixteen year old girl:
|The joy of being young (and female)|
So an infinity of thanks to the lovely Jodie Lynn for those amazing transformations that not only changed my face and presentation but my life as well. And thanks to Nicola for first alerting me to the existence of the Boudoir.