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Dina’s Diner October 24, 2016

| Oct 24, 2016
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THIS MASK-ERADE

A "masker."

A “masker.”

In one week, Halloween will be here. If you’ve run out of costume ideas or don’t feel like shaving a three day stubble, you might consider a female mask or even a full-length latex female body suit. I said you could consider it. I don’t expect many to actually implement a plan to become a masked doll for Halloween.

Female maskers are a crossdressing category of their own with devoted practitioners of this particular art. In 2014, the BBC ran a documentary Secrets of the Living Dolls about the masking culture. An article in the London Daily Mail in February 2014 interviewed some men who mask and some artisans who create the lifelike masks and body coverings for their clientele. The Daily Mail article also said, “Female masking, while taboo even among the cross-dressing community, has managed to reach the edges of popular culture. Photographer Steven Meisel even shot model Carolyn Murphy in a mask for Italian Vogue in 2012 after stumbling across the fetish online.” Slate.com, an online magazine, had an article appearing April 16, 2016 about Daniel Handal, a photographer who was working on a project about the masking community. Handal even went “en doll” himself to photograph attendees of the “Rubber Doll World Rendezvous” convention. “We live in a society that has been transformed by the Internet” he wrote. “We can pretend to be anyone we want to be online. Fantasy sometimes trickles into the real world and if we are good at it, we can become the person we dream of.”

I don’t know if any crossdressers move between the masked form and the unmasked form of femininity. And in all my years of crossdressing in support groups and other social settings, I can’t remember ever having seen a female masker in the flesh, so to speak. Masking seems to be used mainly by indoor-only crossdressers although some venture outdoors to shock and amaze the larger world. Many of the outfits worn by the maskers are complete ensembles: sometimes incorporating classic feminine apparel, sometimes kinky fetish outfits.

fwmme_skinAs you probably know, the better female masks are latex creations that feature pre-painted eyes and lips. Some are remarkably well designed and, from a distance at least, undetectable. Others are looser and less convincing approximations of a female face, similar to a blow-up sex doll’s visage. Some female maskers also include full torso latex breast creations that provide realistic boobs with nipples and colored areolae. The Sculpted Mold Works Corporation makes the FemSkin III, a full body female latex suit that includes breasts, hip and derriere shaping, and even a stylized vagina for $850. It’s not an inexpensive hobby but if you count all the money a “traditional” crossdresser spends on cosmetics and other paraphernalia, it might be a wash compared to a one-time investment in a mask and full body suit.

The use of a mask implies the wearer has not mastered makeup techniques but one wonders if it isn’t as much a personal preference as any other reason. Some of the interviewed maskers seemed to prefer the total anonymity of full coverage rather than trying to work with their own faces. A 70 year old masker told the Daily Mail, “That’s why I do this, because I think I look amazing. If I saw a 70 year old man looking back at me, I’d give this up tomorrow.” The care given to the rest of the ensembles of many maskers indicates that money (and presumably) ability is not an impediment to use and mastery of cosmetics. They just like the real yet unreal look of masked femininity.

As I contemplate the topic and photos of many of the maskers what I’m left with, I guess, is a mystery. Which may be part of the appeal of the whole masking phenomenon to begin with.

ALL THE YOUNG DUDES

James Charles

James Charles

The CoverGirl cosmetics company announced its (or anyone’s, I think) first “cover boy” model on October 11, 2016. Many media outlets picked up the story and our own TWIT news feature had it in last week’s edition. The contract was awarded to James Charles Dickinson, a 17 year old high school senior from New York state.

Dickinson — who goes by as simply James Charles online — is one of the young men who have made a name and a face for themselves via social media for cosmetic artistry, using their own mugs for their canvas. Fashion, hair and makeup artists have always included men (like legend Max Factor) in their ranks but they usually do their work for female models or celebrities. The new boys work their magic on themselves, photographing and filming their work on various social media sites. The New York Times had an article on October 19, 2016 that mentioned some other rising young male makeup aficionados.

What makes James Charles interesting to me is that he is still in high school and he retains a mostly male look even when heavily made-up. It takes tremendous courage for a male teen to share such a non-traditional hobby with the world. Many of Charles’ photos use cosmetics to create otherworldly facial art. Some show a mix of skater-boy and glamour girl with dramatically feminized eyes and lips paired with backwards cap and boyish cropped hair. It is a true blending of the masculine and the feminine. One can speculate about his sexuality but there is no indication of transgenderism, really.

CoverGirl trumpeted his skill as a source of inspiration for others to use cosmetics for self-expression. So I suppose the company is hoping that other young males will consider experimenting with, maybe eventually adopting, cosmetics as part of their normal routines. The growing number of young men posting images of themselves in full cosmetic flower would indicate that an evolutionary market may be forming for male makeup use.

It’s difficult to get your head around the idea that a man wearing makeup isn’t saying something about gender. But these fellas seem to be forging a new thing that is a mixture of the two poles without having to do with either. A bottle of foundation, a mascara wand, or a tube of lipgloss doesn’t have a gender — they’re just things, after all.

DRAG QUEENS AND BASKETBALL PLAYERS

The New York Times Sunday Styles section had two articles about the fashion industry that I found interesting. On September 25 2016, The Times wrote about the fashion industry’s adoption of RuPaul’s Drag Race as it’s go-to reality show diversion. On October 9, 2016, they wrote about some members of the Women’s National Basketball Association and their early recognition as fashion icons.

It makes perfect sense that RuPaul’s drag competition shows — including the new All Star Drag Race version — would appeal to fashion people. “I’ve seen every episode” said designer Marc Jacobs. Designer Joseph Altuzarra told The Times, “There are many weekly discussions in the office. A lot of people go into fashion because they love clothing, they love makeup and hair and beauty. I think Drag Race is such an extreme version of it that it only makes sense that people in this industry appreciate it and latch on.”

Skylar Diggens

Skylar Diggens

In another article, The Times reported how WNBA stars are trying to break into the fashion set in the same way their male counterparts in the NBA have been able to do. Some NBA players have their own clothing lines and are regulars at fashion events. The women are having a harder go at it because of their lower profile and smaller financial resources. WNBA star players only make very low six-figure salaries and often play in Europe to supplement their U.S. earnings. So despite some recognized WNBA beauties like Skylar Diggins and Swin Cash or the androgynous Britney Griner, it’s only just beginning to happen for the ladies.

The article on Ru’s proteges was enlightening. Quite a few have been used by designers in runway shows, layouts, or are invited to fashion industry gatherings as celebrities. Former contestant Violet Chachki called it “crossover appeal”; some talented queens can enlarge their audience beyond the gay nightclub culture.

While reading these articles I thought of the poor hopeful female models who also struggle for recognition and their big break. Now not only battling other young beauties and the fickleness of designers’ tastes, they must also go up against drag queens and six-foot-something basketball players to make a living. Imagine starving yourself to stay a razor thin size 00 and losing a modeling job to a guy in a dress or a female athlete with size 13 feet. There oughta be a law.

ALSO KNOWN AS STOCKINGS

colorful-stirrupsThe New York Times Sports section (you don’t see that much in the Transgender Forum, do you?) had an interesting article in the September 18, 2016 edition. The article covered the rise, fall and re-birth of what were once known as baseball stockings.

Back in the early days of professional baseball, the Boston and Chicago franchises were formally named the Red Stockings and White Stockings respectively. The Red Sox and White Sox came later. The players wore knicker length pants that exposed the team colored stockings, sometimes with stripes to add a little pizazz for a pizazz-starved nation during the Taft administration. The stockings themselves had cut-out feet held on with stirrup loops that created small arcs of white sock between the baseball spikes and the body of the stockings.

As major league baseball increased in popularity and uniforms became more tailored, players began increasing the height of the stirrup of their stockings. By the time I was a kid and teen in the 1960s and 1970s, some teams wore stirrups so elongated that only the stirrup itself was visible up to the point it went under the knickered pants. One traditional exception to this fashion statement was (fittingly) the Red Sox, who always wore short stirrups that showed the white and black striping on their red stockings.

As baseball fans know, sometime in the 1990s (I think), players and teams adopted the long pants style that covered the leg from belt to shoe tops. The baseball stocking stirrup was (and remains) effectively dead. But a few major leaguers have adopted it as a personal fashion statement in an age of droopy pant cuffs. Francisco Lindor of the World Series bound Cleveland Indians is a stirrup wearer. “My pops always liked stirrups and he always told me to wear them. It’s cool. It’s not a flashy look. It’s an old school, classic look” he told the Times.

When your father tells you to wear stockings — you wear stockings. Wouldn’t you agree, ladies?


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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment, Transgender Opinion

dina

About the Author ()

I started crossdressing and going out publicly in 1988. I joined the Renaissance group in the Philadelphia area that year and later became chapter leader for two years in the '90s. I always enjoyed writing and wrote for the Renaissance newsletter and magazine throughout my membership years. I've been writing for TGForum for several years now. I also contributed items to LadyLike magazine and other TG publications before the advent of the internet. My hobby-within-a-hobby is singing live as my alter-ego Dina Sinatra and I have had the opportunity to do that with several accommodating performers and in a number of venues over the years since the mid-1990s. In the Diner column items here, I try to relate crossdressing or transgender themes (and my own pet peeves and fetishes) to the larger world -- and vice versa.

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