Jan 27, 2010

Seven Deadly Cross Dressing Sins

Four of seven blog posts in this first month of our downy-fresh new decade have been chronicles of recent adventures en femme. Happy to share that sort of privileged fun with you, and a photo too when the lens does not fog or crack entirely, but do you know, this is not an editorial or creative direction that I want to run with.

Don’t get me wrong: I have had a blast of late. But the truth is that under normal circumstances there is simply no way I am going to get out as often as I have over the last couple of weeks. Life is damnably busy. More than that though, even if I wanted to be dolled up daily, had the means to swan about town at leisure, and had the time to describe it all in lush detail, I am not sure that I could make it interesting or valuable to you dear friends. Other content is required. It is time, therefore, to prospect, stake and mine a new Cross Dressing literary claim.

I quite accidentally stuck a stilettoed heel into a good rich seam of thought the other day when I found I was in a bother about not getting a great photo of myself taken. I was quite upset at a harmless little camera. I went so far as to recreate my outfit the day after, make-up and all, in the effort to set things right and appear in a good light. After getting the best shot I was capable of, after peeling off all the layers, after soaping off the face, I then spent time fussing over the many images. Dress not sitting flat here, eyes not right there. Legs look gimpy here, grimace on the face there, imperfect and grating in a thousand little ways.

I felt, at moments, that my efforts to take a great photo might be in vain, but it took a while for it to twig that the whole enterprise was actually an exercise of vanity.

Yes, Vanity. One of the Seven Deadly Sins, excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, and etc. I did a quick mental inventory of moments of vanity I indulged in of late, and did not need too much reflection to realize I had at least one blog post at the ready.

I then put the rest of The Seven Deadly Sins in a spreadsheet column, and check marks where indicated beside them. Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Sloth, Wrath ... guilty as charged Your Honor!, with mitigating circumstances perhaps, but guilty no doubt.

I will reflect a little here today on Vanity. Perhaps there is a small series available in the rest of our Deadlies. With luck perhaps there will be a payoff, some lesson at the end of it all, or somewhere along the way. Join me sinners, won’t you?


Care about ones appearance is good sense and good manners. Pride about ones reputation and capabilities will help one muster the nerve to endure and achieve. Good things yes, but when poured on too heavily, too often, very off-putting to people nearby. There does not seem to be a hard and fast line between the extremes. The virtues of prideful care for how you perceive yourself, and how the world perceives you can decay into vain vice before you know it.

I have always put a good amount of care and thought into my appearance. Clean, pressed, well coordinated, not surprising to people who know me and not alarming to people who do not. I have a signature look in guy life - not fussy or too concerned with the fashion of the moment. It is important to me that people remember what I said, not what I wore. I do not live in expectation of complements. I have pride, yes, but it does not morph into vanity.

Cross Dressing goes a little differently for me though. I am too out for complements, for notice, for validation that I do it well. I dress for it, and cannot get enough of it. I have received some very positive notice, and when it comes, it is intoxicating. There is an addictive quality to that intoxication, and it stings when you don't get a hit. I feel now that this buzz has become more important than it should be.

Wanting this external validation is at odds with how I roll normally, and it troubles me that a behavioral fissure is appearing between my “normal self” and the part-time persona you have come to know a little of here. Wanting the positive notice causes me to preen, and preening is neither gentlemanly or ladylike deportment. Ultimately, it is a set up for disappointment, and I most avowedly do not want to be disappointed either in myself, or in my dressing.

There is an opposite virtue that pairs up nicely with our featured vice: Humility. I think that I should try to pack a little more of that virtue when en femme. I think furthermore, that I am going to feature a little less chit chat here about the outfits, and what sort of notice they get in future posts about my rare and treasured adventures. I am not going to work at posting up snapshots either. You will have seen the look done better on others no doubt. The satisfaction I get from Cross Dressing should come from within, and not be dependant on the flattery of friends and the odd stranger.

Vanity is not pretty, and as much as I want to be pretty, I want less to be petty. The world will be a little more pretty and a little less petty if I focus more on all the nice things that I see, the nice people I meet , and less on what I think the world sees in me.

One sin down, six to go. Your thoughts most welcomed here….

A word about the illustration. Finding a series of pictures of depicting The Seven Deadly Sins in female form was a bit of icing on my creative cake. The artists name is
Marta Dahlig. I know very little about her, other than that she has created a series of pictures that captures my attention fully. I will reach out to her in the hopes that she will not mind my use of her wonderful work here, and hope to present the rest of the series to you over time, and my muse allows.

Happy, vanity-free dressing, and everything else…


Treacle said...

Great revelation. I like that you're so honest with yourself.

Poacher said...

I'm sure the pleasure DOES come from within, Petra.

But of course, what woman does not also want to feel admired for her presentation....?

ps, love those cards.... That Vnaity one reminds me of the Diva posing in her bedroom mirror when she thinks we are not looking!

Couture Carrie said...

Ah yes, the curse of all beautiful people!! I love getting compliments too...

I love your discussion of pretty and petty, darling Petra! This is such a beautifully written piece!


Lynn Jones said...

I think it's only a sin if you go too far. Pride - or perhaps 'care' - in your appearance is, I think, a good thing. After all, who'd want to live with a slob? :)

Obviously, it can go too far and I think there's a danger that a person can get sucked into a cycle of wanting the attention of others. Sometimes the crowd just doesn't dig that person's mojo and... they'll be in for a rough night if that's the only way they get their jollies.

Petra Bellejambes said...

Thanks all!

I want to follow on Lynn's thought here. The more thought I put into the 7, the more it seems they all exist at the bad end of a continuum that has really fine behavior. Slippery slopes all about us.

Envy is up next.

Stay tuned (please)...

Happy Weekend!

cdjanie said...

Oh, pish-posh, I say! (And I believe that may be the very first time in my life that I have ever said that!)

Now don't take offense, my dear. I do not mean to dismiss your thoughts, eloquently expressed and deliciously provocative as always. Just saying, cut yourself some slack.

I think that coming to femininity as men, we are psychologically unprepared for the exponentially greater fuss we must make about our appearance - and it feels vain and overdone. Real women do it, often to the chagrin of their endlessly waiting partners; for us, the task is so much more difficult, having to disguise our masculinity on top of everything else.

I know it feels like vanity, but for me it is survival. I will not be an ugly or mannish girl; I would sooner stop the whole thing. I do it for my pleasure, so if it ends up weighing on my self-esteem when I look in the mirror, it is not productive for me to continue it. And, it is often not so much beauty we seek in our reflection but rather an absence of masculinity.

Also, we seek out external praise largely because we don't have confidence in our own perspective - and wisely so. In my case, I recognize that what a GG has learned over her lifetime about herself and her place in the world will not be assimilated by me in less time, if ever. So external praise is as much perspective as it is vanity.

The other part of perspective comes from seeing others, like you, and what they are doing. I do hope you will reconsider your moratorium on describing and showing your outfits and reaction to them. That others (by which I assume you mean real female teenage models) may do it better is of utterly no moment to me, and helps me not a wit. And don't sell yourself short on this account either...

Hmmm... that's pretty well a post of my own! Thanks for unsticking the transmission over here! (Sorry, oops, masculine metaphor...)

Treacle said...

I know I've already commented, but if you get the chance, I'd be delighted if you'd enter my lingerie giveaway! :-)

Confessions of Lingerie Addict

Leah said...

Very well-said Petra... I believe that every one of us here in love with fashion is guilty of vanity and pride. But I think if we are not causing harm to others, it is an "acceptable" sin. God wants us to be happy right? So if vanity makes us happy, why is it a "deadly sin"?

Elizabeth Marie said...

Hi darling...so glad you left me that comment, thank you thank you, because here I am and I love this post and everything you stand for. I don't see anything wrong with loving compliments...it's hard being as beautiful as us, right?! :) But I'm inspired that you are even cautious of being "petty" (which I don't think you are)...I just love self awareness. Am I making any sense? You're fabulous, how about that.

Mademoiselle Frou-Frou said...

hey! just dropped by to say hi. and now that i see your pictures in the post below, i'm completely jealous of your figure!!! love the sweater dress with the belt!
xox alison

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