ten ways to deliver class (part #1)

“Class” strategically combines humility with knowing you stand a cut above the masses.

And now we begin writing about class.

“Class” is:

  1. Knowing when to lead and performing it gracefully.
  2. Knowing when to follow and performing it gracefully.
  3. Returning your shopping cart to the requested place.
  4. Realizing the full humanity in those who serve you (e.g., at a restaurant, etc.).
  5. Sitting up straight.
  6. Using proper grammar.
  7. Admitting and apologizing for your mistakes, and immediately working to remedy them.
  8. Dressing appropriately for an occasion.
  9. Driving politely.
  10. Counting your blessings.

More to come in future editions of this series!

flaunt those legs girl!

Transgender women typically sport great legs, due to pre-HRT (hormone replacement therapy) muscle development combined with post-HRT muscle shaping. The result stands out!

So flaunt those legs girl!

I never wear pants.

And remember that high heels will further accentuate your legs! For tips and video on successfully living in heels see my post “the trick to walking in heels…”. Confidence forms the key ingredient—you must emit badass!

Setting an Example

To encourage you, let me now walk the walk (pun intended):

weekly transwoman-friendly fashion roundup (#2 – body shape)

Welcome back ladies!

Last week I introduced this series and proposed some garments that I believe address the specific needs of many transgender women’s bodies. But then I realized we need to step back to basics; that I need to educate readers a bit.

So before we continue with fashion and style recommendations, I thought it best to discuss body shape. Your body shape influences whether an article will look great or blah (or even absurd) on you, so it’s best to know your body shape as you develop your personal style and wardrobe. So today I make no clothing referrals; we’ll only discuss how to derive your body shape, and what to do with the information.

In the last week, I wrote the following web-based Body Shape Calculator. I highly encourage you to use it to determine your body shape, and to share it with your friends. Not only will it serve the needs of transwomen, but cisgender woman will benefit from its use as well.

Once the app returns your body shape based on the measurements you enter, it provides a link to guidance on how best to dress for that body type. I will enrich this guidance toward the needs of taller women in the future.

A picture of the web-app follows. Click on the image to use the app. Instructions follow this picture:

Here I provide brief instructions on how to use the app:

Other Editions of Weekly Transwoman-Friendly Fashion Roundup

Click here for other editions of this series!

artificial intelligence in fashion (part two: a first step)

In my recent post, “artificial intelligence in fashion (part one: brainstorming)“, I produced a list of big ideas on how machine learning and artificial intelligence may be applied to the fashion industry. I addressed sizing, marketing, and design activities when brainstorming this list.

This post doesn’t specifically cover an artificial intelligence solution, but it lays groundwork that I need in place to get to an AI-based style recommendation engine based on body shapes that I’d like to build. Essentially, most fashion dictums take the form of IF-THEN-ELSE rules, where the IF clause generally starts with specifying one’s body shape.



So I needed a way for many individuals at once to determine their body shape, which led to creation of a web-based body shape calculator, pictured below. Several of these already exist, but I really needed my own for my AI project for the following reasons:

  • I can include this work into larger AI software pipelines.
    • Cannot easily include others’ tools, by comparison.
  • I understand the computational method behind what I’m offering.
    • Others’ tools are black boxes.
  • The computation method I used comes from academic literature, so it is peer-reviewed.
  • I can show ads to users to generate some cash flow.

Here is a picture of the web-application I created for this task. Click here to use the application!

make an intent board

Optimism is a skill.

A simple exercise that strengthens your focus and direction involves creating an “intent board”, also called a “dream board” or a “vision board”. These serve me well in life!

Basically, you make a poster, or in my case a Pinterest board, called “Intent” and fill it with images that speak to your goals, values, and dreams. Then you review it every day for inspiration! The images you select may include photos, clippings from magazines, drawings, or anything else you can imagine.

For example, my intent board (below) shows everything from vaginas to fiber optic dresses to cyberfeminist propaganda to geodesic domes.

What you believe and what you focus on creates your reality. (I won’t back this statement up with psychological or spiritual arguments today, just run with me here…). Intent boards clarify goal-oriented beliefs, convincing you of possibilities. They help focus you.

While I don’t expect to—or want to because it would be too much to healthily manage—gain everything I put on my intent board, it helps to review the full scope of what I like as I work to target my actions. An intent board not only helps you enact conscious goal-seeking activities, but it teaches and pilots your subconscious such that you diminish the likelihood of sabotaging yourself in the process.

If you create your intent board using poster paper, I recommend updating it at least yearly as your values and goals evolve. Pinterest provides the advantage of unlimited space and an easy way to search for images. If you use Pinterest, I recommend altering the descriptions of any pins you add to describe your intent, rather than keep the expressed intent of the original image source. In other words, make the image “yours”. (Note that some Pinterest pins do not seem to let you alter the description).

And remember there exists no wrong or right way to do this!

Setting An Example

To demonstrate, feel free to check out my personal intent board below. You’ll identify many concepts (e.g. spirituality and music) expressed among the images that I touch upon with this blog. (Only a portion is shown below; click here to see the full board):

corset hazard

I wear corsets regularly, such as the one pictured below:

For reasons explained in my post “corset training”, I’m going nearly full-time with these. What makes the one above suitable for daily waist training is that it is heavy duty—steel boned. Particular to the needs of transwomen, it’s made for long torsos and comes from Amazon in sizes up to 6XL.

But There’s a Hazard

Consider the following close-up:

I sliced my hand badly on the blade of a clip when pushing hard to unclip the corset.

Don’t do this!

go to a damn tailor!

Let’s face it, transgender women often experience a difficult time finding clothes that fit perfectly. (But then, doesn’t every woman?!?). For example, my particular problems are:

  • I usually need plus-sized blouses to enable fit around my chest and shoulders, but then the blouses generally appear unflatteringly wide around my waist.
  • While I usually buy dresses that flair to diminish my lack of hips, I’ve at least one dress with too much “definition” in the fabric such that actual hips need to fill the space for it to look right.
  • At least one of my dresses expected a larger breast size than I possess.

 

To solve all three cases I’ll regularly hire a tailor rather than waste my time looking for perfection at the item’s point of initial sale.



This of course requires some experience (and common sense) to know what can be altered to suit your needs. I can’t tell you how to gain this experience except through taking risks and making mistakes (I generally buy at Goodwill so I’m only out a few bucks if the item can’t be altered to meet my requirements). Your tailor will describe to you why a request will or will not be achievable and you will learn from those discussions.

You may not even know what needs to be accomplished to improve a (mostly fitting) outfit. But your tailor will employ their experience to gain the best result for your body.

Here is the most important thing a transwoman must look for when seeking a tailor:

Are they trans-friendly? If you have a penile bulge under your panties it might show while they are working with you to specify the correct fit. They must be cool with that possibility!

But money talks—and therefore I’ve experienced no problems.

I also recommend tipping your tailor. Not sure if that’s customary, but I do it anyway.

The most important thing I want to impress upon you:  A good tailor will make a mediocre outfit stunning on you! Found this vital in my business life.

I interviewed my tailor, Karla Vega of Vista, California, for tips on how to find a good one. Here is what she told me:

Know the difference between a “seamstress” and “tailor”. Seamstresses make dresses from scratch, tailors alter and repair clothes.

Tailoring works successfully when you begin with clothes that are too big rather than too small, for obvious reasons. So buy one size up if you anticipate the need for tailoring of an item. I asked if certain parts of an item, such as a dress, proved more challenging then others to alter, and she said no. My experience confirms this as she has successfully altered the bust areas, hips, or the waist of the items I bring her as required.

Learn your body type, e.g. “pear”, so you increase your shopping prowess.

Understand that knowing how to sew does not make you a tailor. The warned of clothing swap meets where an amateur sets up an alteration table for the event and sells “tailoring” services. Her advice is too look for someone who makes tailoring their business. I asked about places like Nordstrom that offer tailoring services and she said they are just fine.

at a wedding in Delhi

One of the most amazing experiences of my journey into womanhood occurred when I attended a wedding in Delhi.

The bride knew me before I transitioned, but immediately embraced my identity as Emily when I announced it. We quickly became extremely good friends, and I therefore eagerly attended her wedding when the time came. I was so happy for her that I even wrote a string quartet for the couple to celebrate their union:

The wedding rituals we performed during the two-day ceremony appeared more gendered to me than those of the American weddings I’ve attended. The women did many activities together with the bride, such as application of henna (see my hands on the photo below) and the anointing of saffron, while (presumably—I wasn’t there so I can’t confirm) the groom participated in activities with the men.

What stands out for me is that the women fully embraced me as one of their own, allowing me full participation in their rituals, knowing full well that I was biologically male. Result: An extremely happy moment in my life. Core validation!



After the anointing of saffron, still among women only, we danced to Bollywood songs for about half an hour. Felt very spontaneous.

Today I watched Kaouthar Darmoni’s TEDx talk “Dare to be feminine for guts sake!” (below). She begins by telling a story about growing up in Tunisia where women would gather together, away from men, and simply dance. She then describes how this practice traces back to Mesopotamia 4,000 years ago. Perhaps the dance ritual I participated at the Delhi wedding described above traces back that far; perhaps it inspired the Mesopotamians, or perhaps the Mesopotamians inspired it.

But I realized immediately upon starting this video that I participated in something ancient and profound.

artificial intelligence in fashion (part one: brainstorming)

Brainstorming as usual:

  1. Fashion dictums involve many IF-THEN-ELSE rules. One can convert this into a decision engine (inference engine).
  2. User specifies their body shape, and a recommendation engine selects suitable clothing for them, taking into account the user’s tastes.
  3. Upload an image of a dress you want to buy, and specify the dress’s given size. At the same time, upload your measurements. The algorithm then tells you the likelihood of fit.
  4. Upload your measurements. The algorithm searches for clothes that fit well.
  5. Upload your measurements. The algorithm searches for clothes that flatter your body shape.
  6. User submits 10+ images of dresses they like, with the option to add more. Moreover, they submit their measurements. The algorithm then designs dresses for them.
  7. Automate difficult design tasks. My model here is the AI drummer in GarageBand which provides very sophisticated beats, and which I use in all my songs.
  8. Enhance design. Algorithms can produce combinations that have not been thought of before. Here I envision designer as “pilot” and algorithm as “vehicle”.
  9. Create fiber optic dresses that light up responsively to movement, such that the changes in lighting accentuate curves.



Collaborate!

If you would like to collaborate with me to these or similar ideas happen, I’m an extremely experienced data scientist and would love to work with you!  Please contact me through Facebook if you are interested.

AI-Driven Fashion Show

Holding a fashion show for AI-created styles sounds fabulous!

Next Steps

See what tools exist already. See what APIs exist. Determine if measurement statistics are known. Investigate the Computer Science and Home Economics academic literature.

What data is out there?

See Also

body shape calculator

weekly transwoman-friendly fashion roundup (#1 – introduction)

Today I initiate a new series, a weekly roundup of fashions I’ve become enamored with during the week.

I particularly focus on the needs of transwomen in my survey, as transwomen generally stand taller than the average woman, generally fill more space, carry diminished hips, and sport broader shoulders.

With each recommendation I’ll state why it proves a good pick for many transgender woman, so that readers can improve their own eye for successful shopping.

This is a blatant effort to make money, as most of what I show you can click on and buy, resulting in my getting a cut. But think of it this way: The resulting cash flow supports this blog!

Without further ado:

A-Line Dress Skirt Vintage Floral Fit and Flare

This goes up to XXXL, and maximizes the image of having hips. The shoulders will appear neither too broad nor diminished:

Sleeveless Casual Flared Tank Dress

The lack of a waistline helps tall women look natural in this sort of dress–I’ve experienced much success wearing beltless flared dresses. This one goes up to XXL and offers many options for color and pattern:

Sleeveless Elegant Cocktail Dress

Two things really work for me with this type of dress:  First, the folds in the front help diminish the visual presence of by beer gut. Second, the cute bow in the shoulder distracts from my broad shoulders. I rock dresses like this all the time!  (See my Twitter profile picture for an example). This dress goes up to XXL and comes in three colors:

You can pull this off, girl!

Wedge Sandals

For transwomen just getting started wearing heals, I recommend beginning with wedges (see my post “the trick to walking in heals…” for helpful How-To videos).

Once you get the hang of it, I guarantee you’ll wear heels far more often than your cisgender peers!

Here are two wedge sandals I like, one modest, one flamboyant, from quality brands that go up to large sizes. Never fear expressiveness!

HINT TO NEW WOMEN:  Don’t wear white shoes on rainy days! They just get dirty and look terrible.

Other Editions of Weekly Transwoman-Friendly Fashion Roundup

Click here for other editions of this series!

petticoats! (and where you can buy them)

I absolutely love frilly petticoats. Problem is, after two years of diligent Goodwill shopping I have only found one, pictured in my post “sissy fashion (part 2)”. And this petticoat doesn’t fill space, like the ones I would like to wear (see my post “sissy fashion” for examples of what I’d prefer).

I have no hips, and need all the help I can get!

Fortunately, I found the supplier wish.com. Not sure what I think of the site yet, but the petticoats I ordered are pictured at the end of this post. Cost a total of $17. Looking forward to rocking them with my polka dot heels and a rockabilly dress!

But later a friend told me about Amazon. These two petticoats go up to XL, important since transwomen tend to run larger than cisgender women, and the price is about the same. They come in multiple colors and sizes up to XL:

Here is me working these designs:

on love

Thought it time to write an essay (of sorts) on the nature of love:

Here I specifically mean Romantic love, partnership love; not other kinds. I won’t throw Greek words at you to differentiate between the types of love as many writers do (e.g. C.S. Lewis), except I thought I’d decide to use the term “eros” at some point, but didn’t. I’m going to use the imprecise English word and we’ll make its meaning clear from deconstruction and context. We are talking about the love that drives madness and rock songs. We are also talking about the love that, when steered wisely, channels into successful marriages.

Why am I writing this? Not entirely sure. I’ve spent much of my non-child life in a state of unrequited love and, being rather introspective, have consequently thought about the subject a good deal. Moreover, I remained in an abusive relationship for 14 years (seven of which in marriage) and stayed primarily due to my choice to continue loving, rather than out of fear or insecurity. Naturally, I’ve thought deeply about that choice, both during those years and after the divorce.

Furthermore, roughly 2.5 years ago I publicly became a woman (I’m biologically male) and having been living and loving as such since then. Among the intelligentsia where gender is considered a social construction this matter may not seem to pertain much to a discussion of love, but I can now tell you from personal encounters that an individual’s experience of romantic love is shaped by patriarchy and heterosexism, no matter what that individual’s gender identity and sexual orientation.

I’ve also written seven love songs in the last two years. So take the intellectual out of me and I’ll still sing about the matter.

Two Basics

When I tell someone I love them for the first or second or tenth time, I really mean two things:

  • I love them.
  • I’m in love with them.

Note the difference: The second is a state of the brain caused by heightened dopamine receptor activity. It is transitory. It fades. This is why couples often complain about the “spark” disappearing in their relationships (if they don’t nurture the first item on the above list).

The first uses love as a verb. It is something you do. It is a choice you make. It is a gift that you give. But you have to commit and continually recommit to this verb form of romantic love to achieve benefit from it. And of course in this form of partnership love, unlike the dopamine receptor form, both parties share the benefit and pain, where as the psychological state of being “in love” is actually quite selfish—driven by the lover’s desire for benefit and, for lack of a better word, acquisition.

The verb form leans altruistic. Consider lyrics from my song “Waste”:

This hope seeks recognition, connection, resolution.
And its more about the love I wanted to give,
than that I wanted to receive

Admittedly the first line could apply to either form, but the second two lines clearly apply to a desire to give love. An activity. A decision. A verb. Not entirely altruistic though, because one hopes to receive the verb form of love just as much as they might desire to give it.

Madness and Estrogen

Here we return to a discussion of romantic love as elevated dopamine receptor activity. All feels well and good until the rejection or the breakup. Then one’s brain chemistry walks through the depths of Hell. In my case, due to bipolar disorder, I go just plain “mad”—engage in reckless behavior and become dangerously suicidal. This condition might last years over one incident of heartbreak. Not a good thing.

I’d even call it addictive. Idolatry.

Estrogen made this experience far worse for me soon after I started taking it. Before then I could channel my reckless behavior into socially acceptable activities. But I lost this ability (for a considerable period of time) once I started taking the hormone, as the hormone drove my emotions to far wider extremes than anything I’d ever experienced before.

Fortunately, I’ve now become accustomed to estrogen’s impact on my emotions, and now make better decisions.

What I’m trying to say though is:  We should never underestimate the damage long-term unrequited love can inflict on one’s spirit.

Back to the Good Stuff

And now back to discussing love as a verb:

When I love someone I do everything I can to ensure they know their intrinsic value. Not their value to me as a lover or potential lover, but their value in the universe, their value for simply being human. To be clear, I also express their value to me, especially when a rich friendship underlies whatever else we might create, but that is a secondary activity. Its their intrinsic value that matters, not my valuation. Another way of saying this: I’m fleeting—we must promote valuation in light of things eternal.

Currently, there are three women in my life I would take a bullet for. Two have been cruel to me (one extremely so)—and neither of these two will have anything to do with me. But I still actively love them (verb form) in the only ways I can, through radical forgiveness and continued prayer for their well-being. Furthermore I keep the door open to them at all times.

Authenticity and Self-Expression

Anyone who knows me knows that concern for authenticity in all things drives me. That explains why I present romantic love divided into the two distinct forms discussed above. Doing so enables clarity—allows me to demonstrate to a partner or potential partner exactly what they are getting when I say I love them. Authenticity resides in the understanding transmitted—my beloved realizes that I’ve thought deeply about the meaning of love and therefore am trustworthy with regard to that dangerous word.

Self-expression matters too. I can’t be anyone other than the stylish femme I project to the world. One has to live according to their soul to love successfully. Sure one can suppress themselves to pay for the short-term dopamine high, but to sustain the commitment of verb-form love throughout all the challenges it brings one must practice alignment (and continual realignment) with their core identity. In other words, the strength generated by a quality relationship flows both from the genuine within and from the genuine in the beloved.

This mandate plays out too for one’s treatment of their beloved: One commits to loving them for who they are, knowing they will evolve and, if nurtured, grow. While conflict comes inevitably and must be worked through faithfully, trying to fundamentally change one’s beloved is a fool’s errand. Besides, their spirit holds intrinsic value as it is and one can easily lose good love by neglecting that truth. The exception of course regards abusive situations, where change on both sides proves necessary. (Not just the abuser must change, the other party must learn not to participate in the dynamic).

Control

A lot of this comes down to control, and the choice to cede it to positive vulnerability. Note that we are not talking about ceding discernment here.

As my narrative above indicates, the dopamine high-driven form of romantic love often involves perilous loss of self-control. I frankly become a slave to my passions. Bitch owns my heart.

But the verb form of love retains control; the decision to give love, to support and promote a quality relationship, is exactly that: A decision. Good decisions only emit from a position of self-control.

And good, well-grounded decisions to love actively enable wholehearted surrender to positive vulnerability, the state where things really blossom in a relationship.

Patriarchy and Heterosexism

Now that I’m a woman, I feel a pressure to date men that I can’t put my finger on. I do like men, and occasionally engage in romantic behavior with them, but I don’t like the subtle nagging feeling that that is the way things are “supposed” to be.

I watched “Sex and the City, the Movie” last night, which I absolutely loved for the fashions presented. But the story made me feel inadequate for not being in a heterosexual relationship (or any relationship for that matter!). It made me feel that my excitement for highly expressive dresses and my bisexuality stand at odds, as if a stylish girl like me should be guy crazy and exclusively so. The movie also reinforced the patriarchal model that a woman’s path to economic prosperity is through a relationship with a man.

Now I’ve experienced a few nights of passion with men, and enjoyed them thoroughly, but these experiences lived out the most base of the dopamine-high form of romantic love. If pressed by social expectation to only commit to verb-form love with men, I leave out a whole segment of the population that I resonate highly with. This is intolerable. To give love one must stand free to give love.

To give love one must stand free to give love.

Heterosexism and the patriarchy constrain that requisite freedom.

Giving God the “Finger”

When unrequited love drove me to madness roughly 1.5 years ago, I wrote a song about giving God the “finger” to express my angst. No regrets! Here is the song, titled “Prayer (Say Nothing Again)”:

See Also

the currency of love

radical forgiveness (video)

the pedagogy of love

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

reconstructing my life from scratch (part #1: radical kindness, and dresses)

As expressed previously on this blog (see “the trick to changing your gender…”), I habitually reconstruct my life. This skill proved essential to my public transition and continually issues economic dividends.

I now stand at an inflection point where I need to reinvent myself again from scratch. You see, the last five years delivered unprecedented upheaval in my life, so much that I have yet to fully adjust to and recover from it all. To provide context, in the last five years I:

  • Divorced
  • Publicly became Emily
  • Fell in love, and lost big, thrice
  • Lost a job I enjoyed and held for a decade
  • Experienced multiple psychiatric episodes (mostly suicidal ideation)
  • Visited India and Kashmir
  • Released two deeply introspective rock albums
  • Discovered that I enjoy having men penetrate me

Only about half of these experiences prompted suffering, but all of them taken together severely disrupted my holistic comfort and security. Consequently my worldview must adapt if I’m to continue delivering my best to the world. I need to rebuild.

I completely need to rebuild. To examine every feature of my life.

For clarity, I hold tremendous assets to step forward with, e.g.,

  • Faith
  • A roof over my head
  • Supportive family and friends
  • Great access to mental and physical healthcare
  • An education complemented by significant work experience
  • Enormous creativity
  • An open mind
  • Modest cash flow

So I’m advancing with resources in place.

My First Two Steps

I’ve decided to start by building a life that radically promotes kindness, and to wear dresses everyday.

Radical Kindness

I hold kindness up as my highest value. So I begin my reconstruction with a firm commitment to delivering kindness at all opportunity. I love greatly, and a clear dictate from the New Testament states that “Love is patient, love is kind.” [1]. Therefore we start with kindness.

I’ll write more about kindness in the future.

Dresses

“Emily”—the person, the spirit, the identity—sustained a major beating in the last five years. She resisted despair by asserting her femininity at every turn. Clothing provides a physical declaration of gender, and nothing more so than feminine dresses. So I plan to wear dresses every day from now on unless there is a good reason not to (e.g., fixing my car or SCUBA diving).

I cannot fully explain why this matters so much to me. But I have noticed (again I cannot explain it) that my life simply “works” better when I wear a dress than when I wear a skirt and a top. It could be confidence brimming up and therefore providing fruit, or could be the universe confirming my decision—most likely it is both.

Manufacturing Intent

I describe making an “intent board” or “vision board” in my post “make an intent board“. Basically on an intent board you paste images to a poster or Pinterest that represent your goals, values, and positive traits. Then you review it regularly for conscious and subconscious guidance.

My intent board includes four whole sections on dresses to celebrate and encourage the joy I experience while wearing them:

References

  1. 1 Corinthians 13:4. (New International Version)