So, if I had a girlfriend in the area, here’s one thing I would want her to say to me, over and over and over again.
“Show your smile, show your style, show your charm, show your wit, show your smarts, show your warmth, show your caring, show everything.
“Do things that show yourself. Do the podcast, talk to people at events, ask questions at seminars, schedule to do workshops, attend conferences, go to meetings, volunteer and contribute.
“Show yourself. Don’t get antsy and down and grumpy, just show yourself.
“People will see what I see when they see you if you just show yourself.
“Dress nice, smile pretty, and let those great blue eyes sparkle.
Showing yourself is the essence of feminine power, even the power that so many women resist by trying to meld into the crowd.
Show yourself is the message I give to women I care about, be that my sister and her studio, ShamanGal and more first dates or TBB and being a star.
Showing yourself is hard to do. I know that because I see how hard it is for other women to show themselves when they would feel more comfortable staying in the shadows.
Every woman keeps a long list of all her imperfections, all the things others could judge her about, all the places she falls short of her ideals, a list of things she doesn’t want to show.
The other list, the list of small, surprising and beautiful bits that are unique to her, well, that is most often kept by her friends, the ones who keep telling her to show herself.
It’s not easy to show yourself. There are many times when you just don’t want to be seen, want to hide behind some kind of generic façade, want to disappear. Just don’t look at me!
As transwomen, we are taught early that the only appropriate, safe and gracious thing we can do is to not show ourselves. The pressure to pass, or at least to remain invisible is intense, and when we fail, when our trans nature gets read, often we feel as if our gender is denied to us as people strip us to our birth biology, denying the truth of our hearts.
Hiding, though, really doesn’t allow us to be present, to contribute our best, to get affirmation, to be supported. For that, we have to show ourselves.
The more we have to show, the harder it is to show ourselves. There is a conventional pattern for attractiveness and being too much, too big, too intense, too smart, too anything doesn’t fit those expectations.
If I had a girlfriend in the area, the one thing I would want her to say to me, over and over and over again, is “Show yourself.”
I would fight her and resist, telling her why showing myself is hard, pointless and counterproductive.
But because she knows from her own feminine experience the struggle to be big, brilliant, visible, and vulnerable, knows how hard it is to show yourself, she would just keep telling me the same thing.
“Nobody’s perfect, honey, but you are amazing. Show yourself.”
There is a reason women gather in groups. We inhabit a complex and nuanced world where many points of view need to be respected at all times. We don’t act as bold individuals, we act as nodes in a network, parts of a community. Our confidence comes not from narcissism but from shared views, asserting and affirming that it always takes a village to raise our children. The hive mind is the mothers mind, alloying the best in each of us to make a better place to live.
That’s why we support each other and need the support of each other, especially when we want to do something as bold and risky as showing ourselves. We need to have each others eyes to see more, each others shoulders to cry on and each others backs to stay safe.
This is a mother’s message “You are so pretty! Get your hair off your face and show yourself!” It is even the message we give to girls flaunting their bodies : “Don’t just show your skin, show yourself!”
For me, showing myself is a big deal. It means I have to push past fears far beyond what most women have to do and have to do it without the early training that girls are given. In fact, my training comes from a mother who knew how to act out and tear down, rather than support, encourage and build up.
Beyond that, I am a big person in many ways, so it takes someone who has learned to own their own big presence to be affirming of bold and brilliant sparkling. Many just see me being big and want me to affirm them, or want me to stay at their level, but doing that means I cannot really show myself.
I know what I think I need to hear. It is a message that all women need to hear, all through their lives, but especially when they are healing and coming back from a challenge.
“Show yourself. Lift your chin and let them see your stuff. You really have something to share, something beautiful. Show yourself.”