Today’s story comes to us from Ava Amariyah Toro, a 35 year old trans woman who works in the beauty industry. Ava shares her struggles with being criticized for her appearance, and how she has come to love herself and her body.
How body image has affected my life… hmmm. Working in the beauty industry has taken its toll on how I look at myself and how I feel. I run into the issue with African American women predominantly who wish to call someone out who is trans, whether it be using wrong pronouns or asking the most ridiculous of questions. As soon as I hear wrong pronouns, I immediately look into the mirror at work and question what about me is giving you “male?” Then the fact that I don’t have hips, that opens the door for questions. “Well she doesn’t have hips, is that a man?” No one really knows how this affects my self-esteem. (Breaks my spirit, quite honestly.) I do understand that I have to not pay it attention, let the ignorance roll off my back, but it is hard when it happens to you and you hear the things that are said.
I find myself everyday wearing clothes that either accentuate or feminize my body. Sometimes it’s a process of elimination and just making sure I am comfortable in it. I refuse to get my body pumped up full of silicone due to the dangers of it, so I embrace my body with sooooo much love versus beating myself up mentally about not having an hourglass figure like majority of women. See we are taught what a woman is suppose to look like–with all the competition between females it is so stupid. Even with bio males attracted to trans women, it’s like there’s this idea of what a woman is supposed to look like: her body, this “Barbie-like” body or “look like a woman.” Then I realized, all women do not look the same and are shaped sooooo differently. Some women don’t have hips. Some women are hard in the face. Some women have deep voices. I am different. I don’t look like the average woman and its OK. I love myself. Even if I have dysphoria of my body, I am not sitting here beating myself up mentally. It’s just not worth it to me or for any of my trans family.
I find in this world, you have to do what works for you, find that article of clothing that looks good, not making you look masculine. Even when doing your makeup, I find it’s all about feminizing the face… softening your features, blending is everything. Being trans, I am discovering it’s not how you perceive me or what you think is between my legs, what I present to you is FEMALE. I just wish that some of these ignorant mofos would respect me and all of my other trans sisters/brothers as the gender we present. As you can see, it truly bothers me and my self-esteem cuz every day I try my hardest to be “passable” and beat my face like I am going to war… and realize I am only in competition with myself, not with other women cuz quite frankly, this is my journey… my life… and I am learning to demand respect.
Much love to you all,
– Ava Amariyah Toro, 35 yrs old, 4 years in transition