In Praise of Pictures

| Apr 21, 2008
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Stephanie in that little black dress.Admit it, posting pictures is one of the most common pastimes in the T-world. Not that this isn’t without controversy, of course. There are the picture plagiarists who steal someone else’s image and pass them off as their own. There are those who Photoshop their face onto the bodies of others. There are those who post all sorts of pictures of adult parts and acts. I’m not addressing any of those practices. I’m not necessarily condemning them, though I don’t engage in them myself nor seek out those who do.

What I’m referring to is the posting of images of ourselves in feminine mode that we want to share with others. I’ll be the first to admit that I like and desire compliments on Stephanie’s looks. And I will also admit that fishing for compliments can be a very limited and limiting thing if that’s all there is to your feminine life. Yes, it is very rewarding to meet friends in person and to go out in public. Trans and ambigendered persons will never gain greater toleration and acceptance unless we come out into the public light, or come out to family, or organize politically. Yes, we should all look to mature and move beyond simply posting pictures.

But there is sometimes, from sisters who are out and about and loud and proud, a condemnation of posting pictures that sometimes goes a bit too far. I think that, within reason, posting pictures is a healthy part of the growth cycle of a t-girl. It’s a relatively risk free activity that enables us to build confidence in our image, receive assistance from others to improve our image and—perhaps most importantly—to build our self-confidence in our feminine selves.

I’m not arguing that anyone’s aspiration should be simply to collect glowing Flickr comments or to win any number of photographic beauty contests. That seems pretty limited to me. But what I’m saying is that blanket condemnations of the practice are not really warranted. Yes, there are excesses with anything, but in my view, having the Internet as a place to make our debut and to receive feedback (even if it isn’t terribly objective sometimes) is invaluable. It gives us a place to learn and grow and become comfortable with being feminine. And most importantly, our pictures give us a way to begin to make contacts and friends, and to find support, and to work towards developing a sense of self-acceptance.

While at some point I would hope everyone would move beyond a picture posting site as their sole means of doing these things, even the accomplished and confident t-girl can be a powerful influence by providing comments and suggestions to newbies posting their first pictures and just starting the process. It seems to me that through sharing pictures we can do a lot to forge bonds of community—and anything that contributes to that, in my view, is a positive thing. So rather than criticizing those who enjoy posting why not look at the picture sites as a fertile ground in which to find friends and build community, even if—no ESPECIALLY, if you really don’t feel the need to have people compliment you on your umpteenth picture in that cute little black dress.

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Category: Transgender Opinion

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Comments (6)

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  1. says:

    Hmmm, I was apparently trying too hard not to insult those who always say “get beyond the pictures and get out in the real world.” My point was exactly that posting pictures is a very healthy way for the TG/CD/ambigendered individual to begin to develop confidence and friendships. It’s exactly what I did. Oh, yeah, note the title–I meant it!

  2. angela_g angela_g says:

    “Walk on The Wildside” is by Lou Reed and any crossdresser who doesn’t know that should turn in her membership card. Sheesh. Now, if we go back to Stephanie’s original post I think we can see that she’s not saying there’s anything wrong with posting photos online to get compliments—she just thinks it’s possible to grow past just posting photos on picture posting sites. Hey! You can post them here on TGF! Now that’s growth.

  3. says:

    Sheeezzz, whats wrong with sharing some photos that your proud of ? Why is it so important for everybody to be on the same track. Has anyone ever heard of diversity? I’m 59, a widower, I got one kid left to get out out of High School , and Jan. I became a Grandpa, and virtually no one in the family wants the cat any further out of the bag in my situation. Somebody is always trying to up the stakes just sit back and watch the show, love it or leave it. There are thousands maybe millions of of of oh yeh others out there and not all are good communicators and not all thier communities are receptive to the “Take a Walk On the Wild Side” (Van Morrison?) life style. Love you all

  4. says:

    I think the validating power of photos is, umm, valid. How we see ourselves in our mind’s eye is an important component to identity. Mirrors don’t always cast the right reflection for us, and people don’t always give us the kind of feedback we crave, but a picture posted in the right place can. And that’s as true for transsexuals as it is for crossdressers, at least in the beginning.

  5. says:

    I see nothing wrong with posting pictures. In my case posting pictures was a great way of building confidence and refining my looks. It was also a way of meeting local crossdressers which eventually lead to me joining a support group and going out.

  6. ronnierho ronnierho says:

    “Growth” is the key word here. For some of us, that growth comes when the compliments no longer have the same effect they once did, so we move on to find positive feedback in other forms, like video or, (gasp!) face-to-face contact. But I think for many, if not most, getting that shiny “wow, you look great” is always going to be just enough.