It’s time for me to do another product review! This time, I’m taking a look at DressTech’s Silicone Hip Pads. But it wouldn’t be a ‘Sandra post’ unless it quickly turns into an essay, including some reminiscences of the past, some crossdressing tips, and ranting about manufacturers and suppliers of crossdressing goodies 🙂
The crossdresser’s checklist
Every time I go out, I naturally observe what my friends are wearing, and, of course, what cisgender women look like these days. And there is a simple checklist that every crossdresser — at least those who wish to go out and enjoy themselves — must do, namely, what to take with you:
- Wig (unless your own hair looks good enough!)
- Female shoes (even if they aren’t very noticeable as such)
I know one or two exceptions to these, but they are rare. Notice what is lacking from this list! (And no, I’m not counting the underwear, because you cannot see that!)
- Female attire (some just wear unisex clothing, or even some male attire that is not too ‘male’)
- Bra padding/breast forms (a lot of girls are happy with what they have, or just wear 2, 3 or even 4 bras at the same time)
- Makeup (a lot simply go without makeup — seriously!)
- Jewelry (totally optional)
- Shapewear (most people I know will go ‘huh? what?’ at this point!), artificial nails, false eyelashes, etc.
Ok. So, naturally, each one of us has different styles, different tastes, different ways of expressing themselves, and, obviously, it also depends on how comfortable you are. A typical example: I have good friends who will be as comfortable on top of their 15+ cm-high stilettos as I am when wearing flats; so what is ‘comfortable’ for someone is not necessarily comfortable for someone else!
There are a lot of reasons for the way people dress as they dress, and it would take ages for me to go through each of those reasons. Let me just say, as a way of introducing the subject, that for some girls it is fundamental to have a ‘natural’ look, and that mostly means not wearing anything that a cisgender woman wouldn’t wear — the exception being, of course, the wig, for those who don’t have hair who looks good enough (or don’t have hair at all). After all, women who had to cut their hair for some reason (usually related to chemotherapy…) will also use wigs; and African and Japanese girls, of course, love their wigs 🙂 So wearing a wig is ‘fine’. Anything else (sometimes even makeup!) is just ‘being artificial’.
I can certainly accept that, especially on my country, where the ‘natural look’ is still favoured (except when going out clubbing!). However, there is a catch: most genetic males do not look even remotely like cisgender women. So, unless you’re very happy in being ‘just another man in a dress’, and you’re not undergoing hormone replacement therapy or cosmetic surgery, there is only one option left to look great and relatively passable as a woman: use all tricks of the trade to change your body.
My own shortlist for that is:
- Breast forms (optional: some tape to produce outrageous cleavage)
- Corset (there is no way for me to get a flat belly otherwise! — and it helps with overall curviness as well)
- Hip pads
- Some form of shapewear (more on that later)
- Optionally: fake eyelashes, artificial nails
Those last two are really ‘optional’ for me, because I have average-sized lashes which look good enough with plenty of mascara; and as for the nails, when I can grow them a little above average, then I love to paint them 🙂
I have already written a bit about my choices of breast forms, corsets and hip pads. Today, as said, I’m going to talk about hip pads once more. But first I have to re-introduce Sandra’s Law of the Shapely Body!
Sandra’s Law of the Shapely Body and how I have come upon that ‘law’
We have to turn back the clock some 20+ years (see, I told you!). Back then, I felt I was the only person in my own country that was a crossdresser (and all my friends tell me that they had felt exactly the same!). Fortunately, we already had the Internet, and I already learned that there were lots of crossdressers around the world. Millions. But I had no one to talk about it; I didn’t know anyone personally. So, of course, what I did was browse the ‘net in search of information.
And I came upon one of the many nice companies catering to the desires of crossdressers (some are still around!). Basically, they would gather all kinds of ‘tricks of the trade’ — wigs, breast forms, all sorts of lingerie, padding, even clothes ‘designed to fit a man’, heels in extra-large numbers — and put it on an online catalogue from which you could order everything you needed to ‘start becoming a crossdresser’. There were some instructions (but never enough!) and sometimes you got a few comments and reviews on forums and mailing lists, so you could pick among the existing companies the one that suited you best. Because we all felt back then how small the community was, it was rather easy to figure out where people were shopping for their items, and what experiences they had.
I remember that I bought one of those ‘crossdresser starting kits’. Ok, I know, in retrospective, I was a bit naïve and fell for the marketing stunts; but you must remember that there was nobody I could ask for advice. All I knew was that I wished to look like a woman, but my body simply wasn’t the right shape: no boobs, no waistline, no hips, too tall, too short hair (and thinning!). I needed to figure out how to get all these things without major surgery!
The first hip pads I owned were made of foam. They were insanely expensive for something that you could do on your own in the comfort of your home; but, at that time, I still lived with my parents, and therefore I needed to buy everything ‘made’, not requiring much preparation, so I was happy that the ‘starter kit’ included those hip pads (as well as a horrible wig which gets me the shivers just by remembering how ugly it looked).
There were lots of problems with those hip pads. They didn’t look nowhere near ‘natural’. And, of course, even beneath some pantyhoses, they would not easily stay in place — the worst thing, of course, was sitting down. After some wearing, they would start to flake, crumble, and finally be gone forever. Not good. That’s why I turned to Classic Curves International and bought a Veronica 2 from them.
Now, at that time, I was still struggling with proportions. What I mean by this is that even though I had some lovely hips and bottom, all the rest was simply wrong. And I couldn’t understand why.
Because I had been told that a cup C is about ‘average’ for women, that’s the size of breast forms I first bought. What nobody told me was how those ‘averages’ are calculated. And by then I had no idea that the cup size changes with the band size (waist size). So a 34C would be considered quite busty, but a 42C would be ‘almost flat’. Well, almost. It would register as some bumps 🙂 And because that was pretty much what I was wearing at the time, it looked so wrong. But I was ashamed to ‘go bigger’ and become completely unnatural that way…
Then, of course, there was the waist problem. I was a bit influenced by the theories that corsets would somehow ‘deform’ your body and give you terrible health problems. Well, yes, this is actually quite correct, if you go over the top (like women did in certain periods of time). But as a matter of fact, a good corset will also offer you a nice back support, force you to move with a much more healthier stance, and, as a side-effect, it might even flatten your tummy and shrink your waist (if you wear it correctly for an appropriate period of time every day).
Back then, however, I was a bit scared of all that, so I just bought a waist cincher. This is basically a frilly underwear garment made of a strong, elastic material that is supposed to flatten your tummy and even give you an appearance of a slimmer waist. Well, perhaps. It never worked for me. I still wore it, perhaps more for the psychological need to be doing something about my figure…
So at some point I had to go and do some research. And this kicked me back even further… to the 1950s.
Consider the ideal female body in the 1990s: slim, tall, flat as an ironing board, no hips, and no waist to speak about. This is what supermodels are supposed to look like — because that way (I have learned!), designers will require the least amount of fabric to make their clothing! Unfortunately, a way to cut costs has produced dramatic health issues in lots of women — not only on the models themselves, but on all other women trying desperately to look like models so that they could wear the same clothes…
It’s unfair, but let’s face it: most women do not look like that. They have completely different proportions. And this was quite well understood in the 1950s. Those glorious pin-ups are not ‘slim and flat’, but they are curvy. That doesn’t mean they needed to be overweight! No, not at all; they just needed to have the curves in the right place to look awesomely sexy. And this is where Sandra’s Law of the Shapely Body comes in.
Start with the ‘ideal’ figure of the 1950s: the 90-60-90 body (36-24-36 for you Americans) — that means 90 cm at the breast line, 60 cm waist, 90 cm hips. Now, obviously enough, most people (women or men) will never achieve that kind of sexy body — no, not even with surgery! So it looks like this is not different from what supermodels are doing today (and lingerie models still stick to those magic proportions). Or is it?
Well, there is a trick, of course. You don’t need to be 90-60-90 to look perfectly curvy and sexy. No — what you need is the following:
- Same breast size as hip size
- Waist line 30 cm (about 12″) smaller than the breast/hip size
That simple, huh? Oh yes. This is basically playing around with optical illusions and a sense of proportion. Small women, for instance, with 70-40-70 measurements, will look as gloriously sexy as average-sized women with 90-60-90 measurements; and of course the same will work upwards as well — if you are extra tall, then you can easily get away with measurements like 120-90-120 and still be seen as curvy and sexy!
It’s strange, but it’s how it works. We were conditioned to look at ‘big breasts’ and ‘wide hips’ as desirable attributes in female partners, because it will mean that they will have easier child births (and be able to feed them properly afterwards). But the proportions need to be correct as well: too wide hips with tiny breasts means that the birth will go well, but the baby will not get enough nourishment; narrow hips means lots of birth complications (potentially leading to the death of both mother and child!). Obviously, in the 21st century, we don’t need to worry as much as at the time we dwelt in caves, but… those proportions are firmly etched in our brains.
One could ask oneself what is so special about 90-60-90 that works out as ‘curvy’, while other proportions do not — either you look ‘fat’ or ‘too slim’, but never ‘curvy and sexy’. I have no idea, and I can imagine that researchers in the field of human proportions, ergonomics, and aesthetics will have no clue either — all they can do is number crunching and come out with averages.
Great so far! But — you might be saying — most people (much less men!) do not have such proportions, either. Men, for instance, usually have the same size at all three points, and tend to get the waist size increasing over time (unless they work out 😉 ). Women vary so much in the three measurements that it’s insane to believe that they will ‘fit’ in the 30-cm-rule!
That’s ok. Fortunately, since immemorial days, clothing technology has come with a solution for all this — and it’s called shapewear. Note that I’m going to bundle a lot of items in the overall concept of ‘shapewear’, while the contemporary clothing industry has a much more narrow interpretation. Namely, an online dictionary that I’ve just searched for says:
Shapewear, n.: women’s tight-fitting underwear intended to control and shape the figure.
Naaaah. Too simple. First, it’s sexist, because it implies there is no shapewear for men (and of course there is!); and secondly, it says that the underwear needs to be tight-fitting, which, in most people’s minds, reads as: extremely uncomfortable.
No, I say! I would propose a much more ambitious definition of shapewear, and this is what I will be using today in this article:
Shapewear, n.: underwear and accessories intended to control and shape the figure.
See? Much better that way!
So, back to the Law of the Shapely Body. How do we apply it? It’s very simple:
- Start with one of the three measurements (possibly one you cannot physically change in any way). We’ll call it the ‘base measurement’.
- If the base measurement is the hip or the breast, shrink the waist line to 30 cm below that.
- Expand the other measurement until it’s the same as the first one.
- If the base measurement is the waist line, expand both the breast and the hip measurements until they are both 30 cm larger than the waist line.
- If the breast measurement is smaller than the hip measurement, use a bra with padding; in the reverse case, use a minimizer bra
Ok, this is usually what women do, or rather, what they did in the 1950s. Usually they would start with the hip measurements (which is harder to change with shapewear!). Then they would get a corset to slim the waist to 30 cm less than the hips… but in many cases, they might just need a waist cincher, or some girdle with an elastic band, etc. Finally, they would get some padding in their bras (and get specially designed bras as well) to increase their size to the hip size. If they had been born with extra-large breasts (compared, proportionally, to the hip size) they would use a minimizer bra. Simple.
Now, we who have been unlucky to have been born with XY chromosomes and developed as men, we have a problem. Well, several. Let’s start with a few…
Short guide to a Man’s Shapely Body
Obviously, every man has a different shape (just like every woman!) so this means that a lot might not apply to you. For instance, if you’re well below average height for a male, are quite skinny with narrow shoulders, then it’s very likely that you won’t even need to try to look shapely and curvy — you should go straight to the supermodel look instead! In fact, a surprising amount of my crossdresser and transgender friends are exactly like that; they are thoroughly envied by cisgender women as well as their peers 🙂
But the ‘average male’ will be taller, have broad shoulders, and, most importantly, a huge chest volume, which causes a lot of shaping problems, because if there is anything that you cannot disguise is the chest!
So for male bodies (especially those with broad shoulders and large chest) you might be better off starting with the chest size as your ‘main’ measurement.
Unfortunately, this will lead to further complications. For instance, my chest size is about 100 cm. That would mean reducing my waist size to around 70 cm — which is way, way too small for someone of my overall constitution: it could seriously damage internal organs! And that’s assuming it’s possible at all: after all, an underbust corset will start compressing your ribs at the top, before it has any effect on the waist, and that will just reach a limit — until you wish to break a few ribs in the process!
Clearly this approach is not quite right. After all, most men will be flat-chested; that means that those 100 cm do not take into account that you will most certainly need to add the size of the breast forms inside a bra on top of that. Also, remember what I said before: getting ‘average’ breast forms will just look strange on a wide male chest — they will just be small lumps way too much in the centre of the chest, and almost no women look like that at all!
Here is a tip about breasts that most men have no clue about: breasts actually start just below the arm pits, and they go up almost to the collarbone. Seriously. You might not notice that on petite women with perfectly round breasts (natural or with implants!), but even on them, that’s how the breast actually attaches to the chest area. Remember that it’s just ribs beneath that area, and because you need to expand your chest when you breathe, this area is actually not very good to ‘attach’ breasts (because beneath it everything is constantly moving — and the ribs are good for stretching skin, sure, but not that great for holding massive lumps of glands and fatty tissue). Nature found a way to ‘graft’ breasts to the chest using clever attachment points!
What this means for males shopping for breast forms is that it’s not enough to simply select a cup size and expect it to look great. You have to make sure that you measure those breast forms first. And this is actually harder than it sounds, because so few manufacturers actually give you the size in centimetres (or inches), but practically only the cup size, which is totally irrelevant for our purposes (and, coincidentally, for most women as well, especially those that are outside the 34-38 ‘average’ range of female chest sizes — the ones used for ‘standard’ cup sizes).
A typical example: as said, I measure about 100 cm at the chest. That’s 50 cm in front, 50 cm in back — well, you get the point. A good rule of thumb, therefore, is to get a triangle-shaped breast form which is ±25 cm wide — that way, it will fit nicely under the armpit (as it should) and go all the way to the middle of the chest. If you do a simple calculation this will almost certainly mean getting close to 1kg of breast forms for each side (mine actually weight 750g each), just to create a proportional-looking breast form. That is most certainly not a nice, average C cup! It’s more DD or even E (depending on overall shape and manufacturer, of course). And we’re not going to talk about projection and similar effects, because most of these will depend on the bra (I might write a tutorial about that one of these days — I read a 250+ book used as a textbook for bra manufacturers, and you would be shocked to see the sheer amount of mathematical formulas needed for calculating how a bra’s cup should be shaped for each particular case — i.e. push-up, balconette, minimizer, or the 1950s-style ‘bullet bras’ — and what kind of ‘effect’ is expectable in each case).
I have to admit that I took almost 15 years to convince myself that this is, indeed, the case. For most of my crossdressing days, I wore far too small breast forms (and bras) for my overall body shape. Let’s face it: I’m a big girl. I’m much taller, much wider, much larger than the average woman. To keep everything in proportion, there is really no choice but to get larger breast forms as well — and I’m not even talking about breast fetishism at this point, but merely sticking to proportions…
Now, if you do get breast forms in the size, shape, and volume I described, this will add some extra 20 cm or so to your breast size (i. e. taking into account the size of the breast forms, as opposed to the chest size, which is measured just below the breasts). This means that you will start with a whopping 120 cm of breast size — ugh!
But it also means making things much, much easier at the waist line: now you just need to go down to 90 cm! And hey — there you have it — a 30 cm difference between waist and breast sizes, exactly what you wish to get!
90 cm is not much if you’re an average male, which will have 100-100-100 measurements: so you just need to get 10 cm off your waist. That’s nothing! Any corset will easily help you to achieve that — and many males might even just do some training to get those abs strengthened, and that might be more than enough.
If you have a belly — like I do! — then it means a stronger corset 🙂 But remember that for the average 100-100-100 measurements, compressing the waist from 100 to 90 will not have any impact on internal organs. With a belly you’re basically compressing fat. Sure, there are limits — if you have a waist of 180 cm (i.e. being as wide as tall!), corsets will never do the trick for you. I’m sorry: such a waist will definitely need a diet!
Because I mentioned stronger corsets… well, you get all sorts these days. As mentioned, the waist cincher is usually just a very strong elastic band — it will work to get you a few centimetres off your belly, and make it a bit more flatter, but that’s pretty much it; you will not get 10 cm off your waist with a cincher. The cheapest kinds of ‘real’ corsets use plastic whalebones. This makes the construction also much simpler. The problem is that those corsets were designed as a ‘gothic’-like kind of garment, often used over the clothes, and the manufacturers expect women to already be correctly shaped, so the corset will just accentuate the curves they already have. Plastic whalebones are pretty much useless when you really, really want to shape your waist correctly!
Then we come to the ‘regular’ corsets. These are meant to be worn under clothing, and they may be either very plain and simple (never meant to be shown) or quite lacey and sexy, with very intricate designs and patterns (these are meant to be shown off!!). The best kinds, of course, are custom-made, and cost something like a second-old car; the cheaper kinds will be standard sizes (always hard to understand) and never fit as well as a custom-made one, but, of course, because they are mass-produced, they will be cheap. Contemporary corsets are usually made of a very strong fabric (known as cotton duck canvas) which will resist multiple washing and remain stiff and sturdy (also, whalebones will not poke through it easily), although you can also get them in leather (mostly for the fetishists, since leather is too hot to wear regularly) or satin (looks much nicer, but will not last as long as a cotton canvas corset). Some cheaper kinds might even use other, synthetic materials.
For people like me, who hate exercising 🙂 and therefore will need to hide a prominent belly — a typical side-effect of someone of my age 🙂 — you are better off with a so-called waist training corset. This is a far sturdier version of the ‘regular’ corset, and it usually features way more whalebones (twice as much is normal), made of strong steel springs. These are interesting because they have a certain ‘memory effect’: once you lace yourself correctly, the corset will stay there, keeping everything in place, and modelling your shape — while ‘regular’ corsets might need some adjustments or even fail to create a sufficiently curvy appearance. I know because I’ve tried many different kinds over the decades 🙂
Waist training corsets are actually an interesting byproduct of the corseting industry. The theory behind them is that if you use them long enough, your body will keep the shape given by the corset. Yes, I’m not joking; this is the assumption with which they are manufactured. They come from a long tradition of corseting where this effect was desired — young girls, at around puberty, would start wearing training corsets to ‘train’ their waist to remain small. By adult age they could actually wear less stiff corsets because their body was already properly shaped.
After the decline of the corset around the 1970s (although most women had already given up the corset a decade before), its purpose was limited as a ‘decorative’ accessory, or as exceptional shapewear for a special occasion — like getting married. As a consequence, the ‘waist training’ aspect was dropped in favour of a more decorative look and more ‘comfortable’ wearing. In other words: the corset stopped being used as a daily undergarment to be limited to very, very special occasions. As such, women’s waists wouldn’t be ‘used’ to the compression effect produced by a corset, and, therefore, they started trading off ‘function’ by ‘comfort’.
Ironically, ‘waist training’ became… a fetish. In other words: what was usual practice in the 1900s, and still common during half the 20th century, was subtly transformed into a ‘kinky’ hobby practiced by only a few — and usually delegated to the BDSM crowd, or to the sissification fetishists. After all, in those communities, you’re supposed to feel uncomfortable!
A few ‘waist trainers’, however, have absolutely nothing to do with kinks and fetishes. Instead, they admire the hourglass shape, and wish to shape their own bodies that way. This is accomplished precisely as it was in the 19th century: by wearing a training corset every day for a relatively long period of time (some ‘extreme’ waist trainers claim they wear the corset all the time except when taking a shower! — yes, they sleep in it). As said, this actually works, if you are persistent enough; and yes, it works on males too. After so many years of wearing waist training corsets, even if only for a few hours per week, I do notice a slight change. It’s very slight, but there are slight curves where there ought to be none. Fortunately, nobody notices those, because of my belly 😉
Waist training is supposed to be a progressive activity. In other words, you don’t start lacing up your corset as tight as you can, until you stop breathing… and try to keep it as long as you can. That will almost certainly impact your health tremendously. No, you do it a bit at the time. Some websites catering to the waist training community recommend starting just with 5-6 cm less than your current waist, and progress very, very slowly towards a comfortable 10-12 cm. In fact, many corset manufacturers recommend ordering a corset with around 10 cm less than your current waist — you will be able to lace them more loosely at first, and progress over time to a more tighter fit. This is pretty much what I did — when I bought my first corset, almost twenty years ago, it only went some 6 or 7 cm less than my waist… after that, it really became uncomfortable for a long time. But for me it was enough back then — at least my belly was completely flat, and I got noticeable improvements in the hip size (more on that later).
Guess how much I can tight-lace myself these days.
You’d be probably shocked. I can go 20 cm less than my current waist — and at that, the corset will be extremely comfortable. I’m not joking. Actually, because the corset also forces you to adopt a much better (and healthier) posture, I find the corset more comfortable than not using anything. And, again, I’m not joking.
What simply happened was that some of the body fat and who knows what is inside my belly has very slowly get used to be pushed in a different place, and so, over the years, I can accomplish this feat comfortably. Let me stress that word once again: I’m not a masochist; I’m not into BDSM or extreme waist training; I’m all for comfort. The corset gets tightened only as far as I cannot notice it any more. What does that mean? Of course, because my skin is in contact with the corset, I’m aware it is there. But it doesn’t annoy me. Imagine that you are wearing your most casual ‘home’ pants — the kind that is loose, with a soft fabric, and probably just an elastic band at the top. It’s so comfortable that although you are aware of it (i.e. you’re not naked!), it doesn’t worry you in the least; contrast that with a piece of clothing that is constantly chaffing, or has an edge that pushes into the skin, or a shoe that doesn’t fit correctly — all those things can be endured, of course, but they are still annoying or even hurtful.
Not my corset. Of course I’m aware I could lace it much, much tighter — but then it would start hurting me. Or I could do like the waist trainers say, and lace it tighter 1 cm per week (or per month), just to see how far I could actually go. But that’s not my purpose at all. I wish the corset to feel so comfortable that I forget I’m wearing it — and that’s what happens in my case. And, of course, I only need to go as far as it makes my waist fit to the Law of the Shapely Body: in my case, that pretty much means sticking to something like 86-88 cm of waist and stay that way. I don’t need more.
Of course, I have always toyed with the idea of wearing the corset for much extended periods of time to train my waist to stay at 86 cm or so without a corset. I know it’s possible! But, alas, that would definitely require me to change lifestyle (and possibly gender as well!), so I’m merely happy to use the corset to get that 86-cm-waist when I dress.
You might have noticed that something is missing to comply with the Law of the Shapely Body. You’re right. It’s time to get back to the hips! Or, rather, to the non-existent hips…
Hip pads: because corsets only go so far…
The purpose of the corset, originally, was actually to keep the breasts in place. Seriously! The bra is a recent invention; while some historians claim that corsets existed at least since the Middle Ages, some are even more radical and believe that the Ancient Greece already had some form of corset back then. The ‘modern’ corset is an invention of the 1850s, and you can read those fascinating articles about the history of the corset, and how it was used to shape women according to the fashion of the day. Sometimes, shorter waists were in fashion; sometimes higher busts; sometimes wider hips. Corsets would adapt, over the ages, to these changes — and become a very flexible kind of shapewear.
The corset, in practice, would do several things at once:
- It would keep breasts in place (remember, modern bras were only invented in 1889 and popularised during WWI — women would use overbust corsets instead; the bra became very popular when underbust corsets became popular and women needed ‘something’ to hold their breasts…)
- It would, of course, slim the waist to what was currently fashionable
- In the Edwardian era, it would even push the bottom back, to give women a characteristic ‘S’-shape (which wasn’t healthy and was soon given up)
- And it would ‘define the hips’ as well
Mmh. ‘Define the hips’. Well, the theory behind it is that if your waist is slimmed and defined, then the hips would be more noticeable — so the corset would also help with the waist-to-hip ratio, by making both much more clearer: a chubby woman might have body fat from the belly down to the upper leg, so no real ‘curves’ to speak of, therefore, with the help of a corset, such curves would be made evident.
Now the problem for us who have been handicapped with an Y chromosome is that we don’t really have ‘hips that need to be defined’. In other words: the corset, by itself, will not give us visible hips to work with. That’s simply because we don’t have any!
(Correction: of course, anatomically, all humans have hips; it’s just that males’ hips are way narrower, so that it almost looks — from the outside! — that there aren’t any hips…)
One way to deal with this is with proper clothing. Naturally enough, there are women with narrow hips as well, and the fashion industry came up with the ‘A’-line cut for skirts, as well as pleated styles. These will provide an illusion of hips. If you have a well-defined waist line, but no hips, such skirts will most definitely be great for you. There are also dresses where the bottom part is cut like that, for exactly the same reason — enhance the slim waist line and disguise the lack of hips.
On the other hand, forget all about bodycon clothing, or pencil skirts 🙂 Those really require hips to work.
So, what is the alternative?
This is one of the very rare cases where the fashion and undergarment industry do not have an answer. Hipless women, while not necessarily rare, are supposed to dress in a way that creates the illusion of hips. There is nothing else available.
All crossdressers learn how to ‘pad’ their first bras with rolled-up socks, or, at a later stage, with birdseed to create a more credible illusion of ‘weight’. But how do you enlarge the hips? There is simply no easy way to support ‘hip padding’ — there is no place to ‘hold’ the padding at all.
Some clever undergarment manufacturers have neatly solved the issue by creating a mix of girdle and panties with side pockets, where foam or silicone padding can be put; some are creative enough to even add padding to the bottom as well. In fact, the latter is much easier to find, since a lot of cisgender women also like to have some extra padding in that area as well.
The problem with those garments is that they never really ‘feel’ right, or even correct. They are basically two (or even four!) ‘lumps’. If made of foam, they will not even allow you to be touched in that area (assuming you want to be touched, of course!), because, well, foam does not feel like human flesh at all. It might even creep a few people out.
Designing anatomically correct hip pads is a challenge that is beyond the skill of most garment manufacturers. However, a lot of drag queens, crossdressers, and other transgender people with amazing skills have put together quite a huge amount of Do It Yourself tutorials online. Here is a particularly funny one from Robyn Withawhy. Funny, yes, but quite instructive, going through all the steps, and showing not only the amazing results you can get, but also the mess you will leave behind at your home! 🙂
As you can see, the trick to hold them in place is to use very strong elastic pantyhoses, tights, leggings, or similar garments. That way, the hip pads will keep in place even if you move around, dance… or even sit down. Not too bad — as illusion goes! — for a cheap DIY solution!
Some 15 years ago or more, however, there were not so many tutorials online — although I’m pretty sure drag queens have been doing these kinds of hip pads for ages, at least since foam was invented. It’s curious, though, that the undergarment industry never came up with anatomically correct pads.
Enter Classic Curves International. 22 years ago, Espy Lopez, herself a crossdresser, put her website online. Yes, really, it was that long ago. I have reviewed her products extensively over the years; and she is one of the most funny and helpful sellers I have ever talked with over the Internet. As a crossdresser, she knows exactly what is wrong with all those garments with pockets for hip pads. She also knows that every person is differently shaped and that when it comes to hip pads, one-size-fits-all solutions will simply not work. Instead, by asking you to do precise measurements (and she asks for a lot of them!), she will calculate the exact shape that will fit you correctly — allegedly, using high-tech computer-generated imagery from some kind of CAD software she uses to create the forms. She offers them in foam or in a special gel — not the usual silicone, because her pads also enhance the bottom and are supposed to be sit on, and silicone is not very good for that, it can easily rupture (that’s the same reason why you shouldn’t sleep in your silicone breast forms).
Espy’s solution is next to perfect. Her garments last long — years, in fact. They are custom made products, and, as a result, they are expensive. Nevertheless, her company is a success story, and she can proudly boast about having had Caitlyn Jenner as a customer before she underwent surgery and hormone therapy. Her products — the Veronica — look very convincing beneath clothing, and it’s hard to get anything that comes close to her solution. I hope she is filthy rich by now, having helped out so many crossdressers and other transgender people 🙂
Nevertheless, the Veronica has a few issues — not many, but a few. The first has nothing to do with Classic Curves International or the quality of Espy’s products: people change their bodies over time. Yes, they get fatter (and sometimes slimmer). Because the Veronica is a custom-made product, it means you need to change it often, as your body changes. It’s like bras: after getting a custom-fitted bra, you cannot expect it to last forever, even if the bra is of the highest quality — because your measurements will swiftly change over time. And of course not even the best fabric out there will last forever. Elastic bands, after intense use, will lose their elasticity.
Although Espy sells the garment itself with the pockets separately from the pads (note that not all pads work with all garments…), it’s still a considerable investment. If you wish to look good all the time, over the years, prepare yourself to cash out a lot of money. Which is a pity, really, because Espy’s garments last so long and are so well designed. Also, they are not that hard to mend, even for someone like myself, who can only sew by hand — but I’ve been mending my Veronica all the time 🙂
You might ask why it needs mending at all. Well, it’s like this: you are supposed to wear the Veronica over your corset. The Veronica has a very strong elastic band at the top, but it simply is not enough to pull your belly in — not if it is so prominent as mine 🙂 Espy is aware that a lot of people will wear a corset with her garment and this is something you have to note down on your measurements. The problem, of course, is that corsets have edges, rivets, and the occasional whalebone poking through — which naturally will start ripping apart the Veronica. Well, not immediately, of course (the garment is very sturdy!), but eventually accidents will happen. And while the early Veronicas were made with a plain silky material, the newer ones are lacey (a super-strong lace, by the way), and lace, well, gets caught on all kinds of edges and such — and is harder to mend properly.
So in the past months I have considered seriously buying a new one (Espy has recently launched a new version, the Veronica 6… which was very tempting!). The gel pads I have are also showing a lot of wear — again, not Classic Curves International’s fault, but rather my acid perspiration, which will easily corrode silver (yes, I’m not joking), so after a few years, it’s really eating (and staining) the pads beyond the ability to wash them (note that foam pads cannot be washed — when they start flaking it’s time to buy new ones anyway — but the gel pads can be washed very easily).
My wife, however, gave me her critical assessment, and persuaded me that the Veronica I had was simply not realistic at all. It’s no wonder. When I first sent my measurements, I had less body fat at the bottom — so that meant I would use the gel pads differently (even though the Veronica has pockets to keep the pads in place, there are several ways to place them inside — either enhancing the hips or the bottom, according to your wishes and needs), and had them designed for that. Now, however, that will give me an insanely huge bottom. I know that a lot of people love big bottoms (myself included!) but this was really going over the top — so I placed the pads more to the sides, and even did some custom stitching to keep them better in that position. However, now they don’t look so realistic as before. And for some reason it has been incredibly hard to keep them symmetrical (again, not the garment’s fault, but it must have to do with the way I wear them!).
Because at this stage I’m looking for a more natural look, and trying to avoid the pitfalls of the ‘drag queen’ look, it was time to search for alternatives. Note that this has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of Classic Curves International’s products. I still love them. I still think that Espy does an awesome job for the whole community, especially for those who are not talented and skilled in designing their own padding. And I’m absolutely convinced that there is no way you can get away with the one-size-fits-all cheap garments that are sold for a handful of dollars on AliExpress and eBay and Amazon — you really need something custom-made as Espy does.
But are there really credible alternatives?
DressTech’s reply to the demand… and how to use it with Spanx®
A few years ago, I came across a competing product from a small company called DressTech. They have an endearing story to tell: Judi, a cisgender woman, has been helping out the crossdresser community for ages; Diana, a crossdresser, is an engineer and industrial product designer. Together they addressed this issue of creating hip pads that do truly look convincing enough to ‘pass’ — and, not unlike Espy, they quickly figured out that the shape of the hip pads matters quite a lot, as well as the material they are made from, and this, of course, requires manufacturing abilities beyond the skills of the average DIY enthusiast. And it also means working with the king of illusion materials: silicone.
I had skipped them for years because of one simple thing… yes, they do provide the hip pads, in three sizes and four colours; yes, they seem rather nice, as the following video shows so well:
… but the video also shows the issue: you need to wear some strong tights to keep these in place.
That’s ok, in fact, for most inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere, especially at very high latitudes 🙂 In my country, however, I only wear tights half the year — roughly from October to May, and sometimes not even that. Even though compared to other Mediterranean countries Portugal is rather cold-ish (and more wet — that all comes because the main weather influence is the Atlantic, not the Mediterranean or the hot, dry air that sometimes blows out of Northern Africa), we still get a few nights when it’s around 30ºC at midnight. They are rare, sure, but thanks to global warming and all, they are not that rare. The point is that for well over half a year, all my tights, pantyhose, stockings, and whatever leg underwear I might have, will all neatly get folded and stored inside a drawer and wait for colder days.
Worse than that, I perspire like crazy. Seriously. I believe it’s the German genes I’ve inherited from my mother — I should be more happy in a more colder climate 🙂 Or maybe it’s just hormones playing havoc inside me — not that I’m doing therapy, but hey, yes, men also go through some hormonal changes during their midlife, and I’m supposed to be on my early middle age anyway… also, the fatter I am, the more I perspire… or maybe it’s a medical condition of some sort that my doctors haven’t yet figured out… anyway, whatever the cause, the truth is that the least physical effort will make me perspire like crazy, and the hotter and more humid it is, the worse it gets. Actually, during the summer, I hardly can get my breast forms attached to the breast; if it wasn’t for the bra to ‘catch’ them, they would drop to the ground 😉 washed by a sea of perspiration. And yes, this will ruin most makeups, but I only use extreme waterproof ones, with a lot of special tricks for oily skin that fix the makeup in place even if I perspire my own body weight in water. In fact, I think I could take a bath with my makeup and it would survive! It has to. I cannot stop the perspiration; the makeup simply has to stick. Oh, and I did mention that my perspiration is so acid that it corrodes silver. Don’t forget that.
So I naturally wondered how in Hell those hip pads would stay in the same place in my case. Granted, I do not perspire as strongly on the legs as I do on the upper body, but if you saw the Veronica’s gel pads after a few years (and remember, they are inside a pocket, which needs to get thoroughly drenched with acid perspiration before starting to corrode the gel pads…), you’d be shocked!
Browsing through the site, a few ideas were given to keep those pads in place. First of all, the company owners claim that the pads are ‘slightly sticky’ so they will at least be easy to position; then you just need to put some kind of tights or shapewear on top of it to keep them in place. Hmm. Well, as you can imagine, this put me off for several years.
But I decided to give it a try. Now, most shapewear you get in common shops is simply not strong enough, or may be itchy, or not the correct size/proportion, or, well, not necessarily comfortable at all. It really depends on so many factors. And I’m assuming that you are not quite willing to go to a shop and try them all on to see how good they are! Especially because shapewear may count as ‘underwear’ in most shops, and that means that you cannot try them out before buying, but have to guess if it fits before making a decision…
Well, of course, and then there is Spanx.
There are so many reviews online about Spanx that it’s hardly possible you haven’t come across the brand before — especially if you are based in the US. It’s what Hollywood celebrities and Michelle Obama use beneath their clothing to give them perfect curves. And what can be a better advertising than that? If it’s good enough for Hollywood celebrities, it’s good enough for me.
I don’t exactly know what is so special about Spanx, except that it comes in three ‘strengths’ (from gently keeping things in place to what they call ‘figure sculpting’), a lot of sizes, and an insane amount of different configurations — from things that look like oversize panties, to girdles, to full bodysuits (well, you get the idea), for maternity, and who knows for what else. Their selection is huge. That might be the reason why it is so well-known in the US. Or, perhaps, because it’s really the best kind of shapewear there is. The truth is that pretty everyone who owns Spanx shapewear will swear by it.
In Europe, Spanx is not so common, and I wonder why not (maybe we Europeans have a competing brand? I have no idea…). They have a few scattered shops in Europe, and there are a handful of online sites that carry Spanx products as well, but it’s not something you can easily find or buy. There is not a single shop or supplier in my country; that means online shopping, and there the problems start.
Spanx had an early terminology for its shaping strength, and a lot of product lines for each strength. Most explanatory articles all over the Internet are still using the old terminology and the old product lines, which apparently they had for a long time. Unfortunately, they changed everything — I don’t know if it happened this year or the year before — and that means that you don’t get easy clues about each item’s strength. The product lines were also renamed, or, rather, they changed the product lines altogether — and that also means that the individual names of each item have changed as well! — so it’s very, very hard to correlate the new names with the old products, unless you get pictures to compare! To make things worse: European suppliers seem to still use the old names (even though they are selling the brand new ones) and strength terminology, and, of course, they have far less choices than Spanx’s main site — they only store the bestsellers (and not every online shop has the same selection, of course).
For me, this meant way more time researching about Spanx than about DressTech. DressTech was easy — they sell through Amazon, and that means I can use my usual account, apply some discount cards, and it gets shipped really easily and quickly to me. In fact, because I wanted to have both the hip pads and the Spanx shapewear arriving at the same time, and expecting things from Europe to ship much faster, I ordered the hip pads first and spent a few more days trying to make sense out of Spanx’s product line. Eventually I found a supplier in the UK which carried the item I wanted and ordered it from there — it arrived after the hip pads, because Amazon, those tricky guys, shipped it first to their Germany warehouses, from where it’s just a small hop to Portugal (comparatively speaking). If I didn’t have a huge problem with customs (not their fault… it’s an incredibly long story, so I’ll skip it. At the end of the day, what matters is that I (finally) got the Spanx shapewear, and I could at last try it out with DressTech’s hip pads! 😀
One final note on Spanx (maybe I should do a separate review on that?): when wearing it for the first time, I understood immediately why the celebrities adore it: you almost don’t feel it. Seriously. The material is very soft and pleasant to the touch, and while it certainly is quite elastic (it’s supposed to be the sculpt strength, after all!), it does not chafe nor hurt anywhere. In fact, you will not even remember you’re wearing it at all — yes, it’s that good. No wonder it’s such a success. But, more importantly than that — at least for me! — it’s that it gives me much more flexibility. Seriously: the Veronicas are great, but they slightly hamper movements — you will always be aware that they are ‘there’, and some movements are not possible (or rather hard to do inside a corset and a Veronica) — like something simple as bending down and tying your shoelaces (or putting on those sandals which have a buckled band to keep the feet in place), or, well, crossing your legs. The Spanx allows all that and much more, to the point that yesterday I was un-buckling my sandals and completely forgot that I was wearing the Spanx; usually I have to remove the Veronica first, then the corset, and only then I can bend down. So… wow. It gives you such a freedom that is unbelievable!
I opted for a nude colour. As it happens, it’s almost precisely my skin colour — and the same colour as the DressTech hip pads! That means that it will be completely unnoticeable under normal clothing (i.e. anything but very dark or even black colours). One slight disadvantage of the Veronica is that it’s white. The early Veronicas were even made in a shiny fabric, so they would be visible under dark colours; the Veronica 5 is a matte ‘dirty white’, so it’s much better but… not ideal for most circumstances. Especially because I have a black corset. The contrast is too big; some clothing combination let the undergarments show through — even if only in pictures taken with a flash!
The Spanx I bought has also a nice feature: it comes with two attachments to the bra. These are very small loops that have hooked ends (similar to the ones used on some wigs), so you can make the top of the Spanx stay in place immediately below your bra line (there are other versions of the Spanx that include the bra itself, which is even more convenient — however, one must take into account that Spanx was designed for women who, on average — and even on larger sizes — have shorter torsos than men. With the unit I bought, things are different, because you wear your own bra and just add the loop attachment — which can be positioned in three different lengths. The idea is to keep the top edge of the Spanx undergarment as high (and as close to the bra) as possible. In my case, the higher the top hem of the Spanx, the more it will cover the corset underneath! And this is important, because the corset I have is noticeable under very tight clothing — you see all the hooks and protrusions and the laces and so forth (I once bought an item which had some sort of ‘cover’ so that all these things are not noticeable, but, unfortunately, its whalebones were simply not strong enough).
So now is the time to come to the tricky part: actually wearing the hip pads inside the Spanx!
Now, so far in my crossdressing life, I just used two kinds of padding: simple foam padding, which is very light, and relatively small, and therefore easy to ‘insert’ into tights; and the much larger (and heavier) pads from Classic Curves International, which are inserted into special pockets of their girdles, something you do before putting the girdle on. As I mentioned months ago, the gel pads from Classic Curves International are really heavy — because they are supposed to simulate ‘real flesh’, they are about the same weight as human flesh. And that’s a lot — about 7 kg of extra weight to be carried (distributed among the two legs).
DressTech’s pads are made from silicone as well. They are very smooth and anatomically shaped from the exterior or outside side (see picture). They feel very realistic as well — and its colour is almost exactly the colour of my own skin — and, of course, they are very heavy as well!
Their shape is different from the Veronicas. Although DressTech’s hip pads have a slight projection towards the buttocks, it’s really just a hip enhancer — the Veronicas tend to emphasize both the hips and the bottom (and you can slightly reposition them inside the pockets to either go for ‘bigger hips’ or ‘bigger bottom’). In my case, however, that’s exactly what I want — as said, I have a rather good looking bottom, not exactly in the same class as the Kardashians or Jay Lo, but good enough to be naturally passable. Nevertheless, the slight projection also aids to ’round up’ the buttocks a bit, and make them look much more female-y. And also don’t forget I’m wearing the Spanx on top of that — the Spanx has been specially designed to lift and give more volume to the buttocks, and boy, it really does its job quite well!
These hip pads are also much longer than the Veronica’s. The instruction sheet that comes with them says that the upper part should be placed at the level of the navel — which makes a lot of sense, since women’s waists are far above the male waist, and the pads will taper towards the anatomically correct position (if worn properly, of course). This means that the lower part will come a long way down the upper leg. And yes, that means no micro-skirts or hot panties — but DressTech is aware of that and also sells a version that is much shorter and designed for you who wish to go for clothing with the hem a few centimetres below the navel 😉 Just take into account that the longer version of the hip pads is much more realistic (unless you have perfectly female-y legs, of course), because it not only enhances the hips correctly, but it also adds more volume to the upper part of your legs, which is what most women also have — it helps in maintaining the illusion!
Now… putting them on… is a challenge. Not that wearing the Veronica wasn’t a challenge as well; in fact, it was slightly worse!
The first step (so they say in the flyer that comes with the pads) is to put your shapewear on. Then you roll it down — pretty much to the end, in my case — until you can align the pads properly, so that they are in the correct position (the top edge being at the navel height, as said). Allegedly, then you roll your shapewear up again, do some eventual finishing touches, and that’s it!
Does it sound too easy to be true? It is. While the surface of the hip pads isn’t as tacky as it is claimed somewhere on their web site, it does provide a certain measure of friction — enough, in fact, to keep them in place (once they are correctly positioned), so far as you don’t perspire crazily as I do (and, even so, I maintained them in place — you’ll see why in a moment). But ‘keeping in place’ doesn’t mean that they will actually stick to your legs/hips while you roll the Spanx up. Not even close! So I wonder how people manage to get them properly in place. Also, the Spanx will really keep them firmly in place (I’m really amazed how well it works), so this means that if you actually do not position them properly, it’s rather hard to get them back in place (it’s easier to start from scratch…).
I found out that it’s slightly better to do this lying down on the bed! I’m serious! At least that means that I can more easily keep them a little bit in place, roll the Spanx up a little bit as well, and so forth, until finally it’s done. Whew! It’s not easy. I guess that with practice I will manage to do this much quicker, but, for now, it’s a nightmare…
Because I’m wearing a corset, my navel line is obviously behind the corset. So I had a problem: what to do? Wear the pads under the corset — and risk getting it marked forever with the strong whalebones — or over the corset, like I did with the Veronica, thus not risking anything… except perhaps a little less realism? Or is it actually more realistic that way? You decide — take a look at the picture. My wife most definitely complimented me (after I put a dress on, of course!) and said that it looked way better than before. And I checked my measurements: 114-87-114. Not perfect, but not too bad, and at least breast and hip measurements are the same. I could be slightly thinner… but that means getting rid of my belly 🙂
Having the pads over the corset has a couple of advantages. The first is that if people wish to ‘feel’ my hips to guess if they are real or not, they will not touch the corset, but just the silicone 😉 (yes, many people are very curious to see if what I have is real or not, and I tell them to touch it 🙂 … which only confuses them more, and make them ask me if I’m on hormones or underwent surgery…) The second advantage is that at least the corset will not have any perspiration — meaning that it provides sufficient friction to hold the hip pads in place (even though human skin has better friction than a corset’s fabric…).
What actually amazed me is how well these work when sitting down — I was almost expecting that they would fall off or at least bend in awkward (and unnatural) edges. Nothing of the sort: they actually bend realistically, or, rather, when positioned correctly, they will follow the natural curves of the body and stay in place exactly where expected. In fact, I have been observing some curvy women sitting down: because they have extra body fat on their hips, this gets naturally pushed to the sides when they sit down. Surprisingly, they look as if they were wearing pads, not I! Amusing, but true.
Did I mention that the hip pads are heavy? Yes, they are — about the same weight as the Veronica’s gel pads, in fact, which is not surprising: both are simulating the extra body fat that males do not have on their hips, and this is about those seven or so kilograms. Of course, when worn in place, you do not feel the extra weight at all (the same, in fact, happened with the Veronica). One major difference between DressTech’s solution and the Veronica is that, thanks to Spanx, I have a much higher degree of agility. As mentioned before, I can bend down and even forget that I’m wearing the hip pads. Even nicer than that — now I can cross my legs! Seriously! I have avoided doing that for years, because, well, if you’re a bit overweight (which is my case), crossing one’s legs just feels awkward; and while wearing a corset and the Veronica, it was next to impossible anyway. But with the DressTech hip pads firmly in place thanks to the Spanx shapewear, there is no problem in crossing the legs. Well, you have to pay a bit of attention: if the skirt is too short, the edge of the Spanx (and the tip at the lowest end of the pads) will be visible! Something I didn’t need to bother with while wearing the Veronica, since I would never cross my legs anyway…
While walking on heels, as every good girl (and gurl) knows, one ought to place one foot in front of the other — that looks most gracious, because one’s tights will rub against each other, and women, of course, are always making sure that nobody can look between their legs at all times, even when simply walking. Because you’re also supposed to have your skin smooth in that area (meaning: no hair, please!), the rubbing is actually extremely pleasant — and it works as a reminder that you’re doing it properly. Well, one thing I missed when using the Veronica was this feeling — the Veronica, by some reason (related to its design), did not allow me to walk that way. I could ‘fake’ it, though, and it would look almost exactly as the ‘real thing’, even if it wasn’t.
But Spanx, of course, was designed for women, and it fully allows you to walk exactly like one — no chaffing, no need to ‘force’ anything, it works as naturally as if you weren’t wearing anything at all (in fact, Spanx, just like the perfect bra, is not even noticeable when worn — and that’s exactly what you want from underwear!). The DressTech’s pads will move freely — and stay perfectly in place while walking like you should. In this particular aspect, it’s not DressTech’s merit that I can walk correctly again, but rather because I’m using Spanx. I wonder if the same will happen if I used ‘normal’ tights? I will only be able to tell during winter, of course, but the truth is that I don’t think I have any tights or pantyhoses or any kind of similar garment that is so close-fitting as Spanx (well, except for the Veronica, obviously). It’s therefore highly likely that I will stick with Spanx and just wear tights over it.
You can see on the promotional video for DressTech that the model (I believe it’s Diana herself) wears her panties over the tights, because, from a distance, it might look as if her hips are ‘real’. And, as said, she is not wearing a corset, but a fancy waist cincher (more than enough if you just need a bit of flattening). Now this is naturally how you need to wear for a sexy, kinky session in front of a webcam — or, who knows, with your lover 😉 In my case, because I do not intend to show my underwear ever, I actually wear the panties under the Spanx. Theoretically, some websites even say that you don’t need to wear anything under the Spanx (it’s opaque, after all); it even has a convenient flap at the bottom for doing your thing in the bathroom (otherwise, it would be a mess — it’s not so easy to take it off in a hurry!!). But because I still have to deal with my male genitalia, at least the panties will keep them in place, pretty much invisible under everything. I’m not an expert in tucking, actually — I found out that, for the kind of clothing I wear, there is really no need to do extreme tucking, of the kind that needs duct tape to stick everything in place! I can understand the psychological aspect of doing that, though; because you can look down between your legs and not see ‘anything’, exactly as a normal, biological, cisgender woman would do. What I can say is that the combination of using panties, Spanx, and a dress or a skirt on top of everything will be more than enough to hide your package — no, there will be no ‘bulges’. Remember, the Spanx was designed to eliminate any ‘bulges’ (even though they had rolls of fat in mind…), so it keeps everything quite flat anyway. I guess that when wearing pants things might require a few more tricks. I don’t know; I look horrible in pants, so I never use them. On the other hand, I have to admit that I looked ugly using the Veronica; will DressTech’s solution make any difference? I’m curious to figure it out!
Some of my friends wonder why I have the patience of wearing so many layers of clothing and underwear when nowadays it’s far more common for women to opt for a much more casual look, with loose clothing (that never seems to fit, at least visually) — so am I not wasting a lot of time, and, especially, money, on things that in reality nobody is going to see?
There are two possible answers to that. One I have explored on my previous article on hyperfemininity: the problem that many of us transgender people have is that we simply have the wrong shape. Even if one might argue that women come in all lots of shapes — which is certainly true, and there is even some evidence that women’s shapes vary much more than men’s — it’s also true that there are a number of right shapes for women. While we have a wrong shape. So either we assume that freely, or we will have to do something about it to conform to one possible female shape. As explained on that article, I’m too big, too wide, too chubby to change my shape into the look of a slim supermodel. No matter what I do, or what I wear, I will never look like that — I have the totally wrong build (and skeleton!) for that. On the other hand, chubby women can easily become hourglass-shaped, curvy women, if they only use the right tools — and that’s exactly what I’m doing: turning my unacceptable and visually unpleasing male shape into one possible (and acceptable) shape for women. This is why I get so many comments about if I’m taking hormones or if I have done any surgery: visually (and you can even touch it!) my body does not seem to be shaped as a male, but it seems that I’ve really started with some kind of female-ish body and just happen to wear the ‘right’ clothes. I’m amazed that so many people never notice that I’m wearing a corset — it’s something that, somehow, never crossed their minds! I believe that this comes mostly from a general lack of information about shapewear — because it has gone out of fashion for a few decades, and only making a comeback in the past few years (with new technologies to achieve the same effects), most people (male or female) are simply unaware that such things exist at all, or that they actually work that well. I always cringe when I hear cisgender women complaining about any of their bodily features, and that they cannot change them even if they go to the gym every day because they are just wrongly shaped, blah blah — they would all benefit from an introductory course in shapewear! (But of course I must keep silent while I listen to their complaints…)
And this leads to the second point: building up one’s confidence and self-esteem. It might actually look like I’m somehow using a ‘crutch’, something to ‘hide’ behind, and unwilling to let these things go and truly and completely embrace my body, and just present myself as I am — one overweight, unshapely guy with a big belly in a dress.
Well, I’m fine with those who aren’t bothered with that at all; secretly I envy their courage, as they flaunt their beer bellies which are impossible to hide under a dress (no matter how large it is), and still manage to walk around in their heels in unshaved legs — and are absolutely impervious to anyone’s comments. It’s great to have such confidence! And, of course, they are contributing to the abolishment of ‘gender presentation’ — after all, who said that you can only wear a short dress if you have no belly and nice legs? Anyone has the right to do so!
True! But I’m not at that stage, and, to be honest, it’s not even my own personal path. I’m fine with a somewhat binary gender (as I’m fine with a gentle overlap between genders), not the least because it’s more easy to deal with in our society. And that means, at least for me, that my overall presentation has to somehow ‘fit’ into mainstream mental images of what a ‘woman’ or a ‘man’ ought to look like. Just like most of the women, my shape isn’t perfect (but, then again, very few women can actually boast of that, either). But I know that I can get a little help here and there from the shapewear industry to come closer to one possible female shape which actually is not very different than mine. After all, there are tall, large-framed, overweight women out there; most are curvy and need just a little help to get a hourglass figure using Sandra’s Law of the Shapely Body. Then they just need to pick the ‘right’ clothes for their body type, and they will simply look gorgeous — even if they are practically the opposite of what the fashion industry is doing with their supermodels.
Well, I can come close to that, too. I’m also tall, large-framed, and overweight. Some things (like a corset) I can do exactly as women do, to come closer to a more visually pleasing silhouette; other things require a bit of padding here and there. Once I do all that, though, I most definitely get a boost in my confidence and self-esteem. I know how I look like beneath the layers of clothing; but I also know that a lot of women do not look even close to those so-called ‘perfect shapes’, and also need a little help to get there. I might need a bit more than ‘little help’ — but I can ‘get there’, too. And sometimes it works so well that I actually scare myself: recently, I met a friend at a mall, and while I got out of the car in the underground parking and moved towards the escalators, I was absent-mindedly fussing with my hair and dress to put it all in place (you know how it is: after having sit down for some time, you need to pull the dress or skirt down because it has ridden high, etc.). This, of course, is something you ought not do in public, and at some point I suddenly became aware of someone appearing on my peripheral vision. I immediately stopped with the fussing and fidgeting, pulled myself straight, and, while facing the person, I noticed that it was a woman, at which I was a bit more relieved — since women tend to be a bit more forgiving! Then I noticed that the woman was actually much to my style and taste, rather tall and curvy, and she had the most wonderful dress, which, in fact, was… exactly like mine…
And yes, I laughed hard as I finally noticed that I was facing myself in the mirror and didn’t even notice it! 🙂 I know — this is something that happens a lot with beginning crossdressers, who might be shocked at what a little makeup, a wig, some shapewear and a dress can do to their overall look. But one would expect that an old hand like me would still get so easily fooled. And the truth is that I don’t. But it happens very occasionally. And every time it happens, I get a boost in my confidence: being one of my hardest critics (my wife is #1), if I can’t even recognise myself, I’m well along the right path!
That’s why I keep using all those little tricks. They give me the confidence to walk in public, in the knowledge that I’m doing as much as I can do to look presentable and acceptable — at least in my own eyes. And that, after all, is what matters.