[Guest Post] On (Not) Being Transvestite Barbie

photo of transgender barbie

Devoted Beauty Schooled readers know I have a total blog crush on Kate of Eat the Damn Cake. If you don’t know that, you should A) check out her blog, especially the Cake Gallery and B) check out this great post she did for me awhile ago.

But come right on back here, because in lieu of our usual Pretty Price Checking (suspended due to me being off the grid somewhere and thus out of touch on anything Price Check related — update me on what I missed in the comments?), we’ve got Kate guest posting!

And I love this post first because it enabled me to do a Google search on the phrase “Transvestite Barbie” and find you the amazingness featured above. And second because I think a lot of us can relate to Kate’s struggle to look like herself and yet also beautiful in that Big Life Moment special occasion kinda way. It’s really the same struggle we go through daily (look like ourselves, yet also like some approximation of Pretty, whether that was defined by TV, the beauty industry, your women’s studies class, your mom, whatever). But with lots of extra wedding day pressure.

So here’s Kate. She’s handling it all swimmingly.

The salesman in the formal wear department asked me who designed my gown. I couldn’t remember. We were shopping for my mother’s dress for my wedding. She found a gorgeous one. She asked about hair and makeup. What did he recommend? He looked at me. “Well, where is your daughter going?”

I shook my head slowly. “Um,” I said. “I don’t know.”

He raised his eyebrows, a kind, but bemused smile flickering on his lips. “And when is the wedding?”

Very soon.

The truth is, I’m a little afraid. I’m scared of makeup. And I don’t like my hair. I don’t wear makeup. I don’t do anything with my hair. And I’m not saying that in the “I’m proud of it! I till the land all day, every day, and there’s no time on the farm for prettifying myself” way. It’s not a statement. It just is.

But certain occasions call for different behavior. I don’t wear a giant white dress every day. And I’d like my hair to look a little better than it’s ordinary state of indecision with some curls on the side.

This will be the second time in my life that I’ll get my hair and makeup done for a specific event. The first time was last year, when I dressed up for my fiancé’s company dinner. I wanted to look like the kind of sexy, stylish Manhattan woman who might go to such a stylish Manhattan event. In order to look like this sort of woman, I apparently needed a lot of makeup. Or at least, that’s what the stylist in charge of my appearance for the evening seemed to think. She straightened my hair, and made it do something poofy and impressively weightless. And then she put so many layers of makeup on my face that even the most majestically proportioned of pimples would have been unable to peek its head above the surface. And as she worked, I was transformed. From an ordinary looking young woman with slightly awkward features and ambivalent hair to…..transvestite Barbie! Or so I appeared to myself in the mirror.

A man was having his hair cut in the chair next to mine, and after my transformation both he and the male stylist working on him looked up and exclaimed, “You look beautiful!”

I was faintly disturbed, but also sort of proud of my ability to successfully look nothing like myself. I felt confident, walking into the party. Transvestite Barbie was totally comfortable in five-inch heels. She did this sort of thing all the time.

So that was my only experience with the whole hair and makeup deal. And the problem is, as confident as I’d like to be on my wedding day, I’d like to be confident as myself. And I’d like to at least resemble myself physically while I’m doing that.  And it seems more difficult than one might expect to find someone who can, with a big event in mind, put some makeup on your face and do something pretty to your hair without making you look dramatically different. I know this despite only having had that one experience. I know it from looking at other people’s wedding photos. There is this thing that is always done to their hair. Parts of it are straightened and slicked down, and other parts are tortured into fat, dangling curls. And most of it is pulled up into a shiny bun-like state. As though to prove that something special is going on here, because no one could ever have hair that was simultaneously bone-straight and voluptuously curly.

“See?” This hair says clearly. “I’m getting married! It’s a really big deal!”

I think my dress will probably give all that away. And also, you know, the wedding ceremony. And the tables with the flower arrangements. And the toasts. There will be a lot of clues. My hair can stay out of it. But not completely out of it.

So there’s the quandary.

And I’m writing this guest post for Virginia in the hopes that she will give me advice, and possibly even come put makeup on me herself, because she understands how these things work.

Makeup is a mystery to me, and so is the art of doing things to one’s hair. But on some of the most important occasions life presents, hair and makeup play an important role (at least for many women). I feel uneasy, realizing that something I understand and trust so little will impact every photo taken of me on a huge day like my wedding, and continue to impact the way my family views and remembers me, even long after I’m dead and can no longer draw breath to complain about lipstick and those scary, scary straightening irons my friends endanger their lives with daily.

[Photo: Transgender Barbie via this guy, who has all sorts of awesome Barbies that never made it. Collect them all!]



Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Guest Post, Hair, Makeup

12 responses to “[Guest Post] On (Not) Being Transvestite Barbie

  1. Pingback: Eat the Damn Cake » (Transgender) Barbie Gets Her Makeup Done

  2. first of all…HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaa
    Transgender Barbie made me spit out my coffee!

    I truly hope somewhere in some evil laboratory someone made some! They are AWESOME!

    second…I had the same problem with my low-key wedding. Actually I wanted to be “done up” because I never do that. I still did my make up (I still HAVE the 5 dollar bit of make up I did use and it’s still brand new (but old now). meaning I never wore it again. I’m a eyeliner and mascera kinda gal and not much else most days.

    but my hair was begging for some help. I think I had the exact “do” you described. To a T.
    THAT made me spew my coffee again!
    Now I sorta hate that it was so “mainstream” bride. but we had fun pulling all 175 bobby pins out. I kept them. They seemed sturdy and since I “bought them” I figured they’re mine!

    Try and enjoy the adventure! You’ll smile fondly on it all later! I promise!

  3. Laura

    I went through this. It did make me feel less myself, but I wonder if the whole experience would have made me feel that way anyway? I mean, you’re the center of attention, wearing a fancy dress, surrounded by people from all different parts of your life who normally don’t all come together, doing this incredibly big, scary, exciting, private (in a way) thing.
    I enjoyed the day and once you get caught up in everything you forget about the makeup. But when I do it again, I’m going to be in charge of my own. No wedding hair, no caked-on makeup.

  4. jenny


    Loved the post and thank you for pointing to Virginia’s blog.

    Two things.
    I’ve seen some of the pics that you’ve posted on your blog and firstly you have hair that I would die for and secondly, whoever does your makeup on the day, you will look stunning.
    Just find someone that you trust, and can have some fun with, to do your hair and makeup, not necessarily the same person, and you’ll be fine.


  5. Stephanie

    Your post is dead on!

    99% of the brides that come in (to a hair school) for wedding hair and make up have the same “do” you described. It’s crazy! The brides and bridesmaids end up looking exactly the same. You can’t tell who the bride is until they put on their veil. Just once, I want to get a bride who wants to showcase her natural curl or who requests a messy, funky style.

    I have a huge problem with the issue of make up. I believe that make up should enhance the client’s natural beauty and be somewhat in line with their every day look rather than making them look like a totally different person. I’ve seen some young girls leave the salon headed to prom and look more like they were headed to the Bunny Ranch.

    If a client enters her event and people respond with, “omg, I almost didn’t recognize you” or “wow, who are you and what have you done with xyz?” then the stylist went overboard.

  6. Arania

    I don’t like to be a party pooper, but this is kinda faily for transgender people. And transvestites.

  7. What makes you feel pretty?

    Do that.

    Or find youtube tutorials on makeup that you can teach yourself.

    Or find a makeup artist who can do that for you.

    I think your hair is all kinds of awesome–could you find a stylist who could make a pretty chignon with it, leaving the natural curl alone?

    Go with someone who makes you feel safe, and who listens to you…

    And really?

    You’re going to be beautiful on your wedding day, no matter what.



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