Incongruity – The quality or condition of being incongruous.
If you’re not old enough to remember Tiny Tim singing Tiptoe Through the Tulips, click here
The incongruity of this large plain man with his undersized ukelele, his fussy gestures, and his super-falsetto voice left an indelible impression on a whole generation. Of course the look was intentional, meant to garner him both big attention and big bucks. It was show business, pure and simple. Tiny Tim was one of a kind because he represented something far outside what most people considered “normal.”
I have used the image of Tiny Tim not because he himself had any connection with the world of crossdressing (I have no idea whether or not he did) but because of the unforgettable representation of incongruity. Most crossdressers hope to blend in reasonably well while in public, and one way to do that is simply to avoid incongruity.
Notice I said “while in public”. I’m all in favor of having all the fun you want to with whatever outfits you want, but if you hope to avoid the kinds of looks Tiny Tim used to get (and be paid for getting), you need to pick your venues. It’s one of my favorite themes, one we’ll be returning to on other occasions in this column, but for now let’s just say that incongruous works best for people getting paid for it.
So, how to avoid being incongruous? Well, the first thing is to be cold-stone honest with yourself. What do you see when standing in front of a full-length mirror? Are you tall, average, or short? Are you rail thin, round as a pumpkin, or muscular as a gym advertisement? Do you have an oversized nose? Large ears? Are you “of a certain age”? Do you have size 14 feet?
We all have attributes that we like and attributes that we’d like to change. Men do, women do, and transgender people do too. We all have our best features and our worst ones, with the added twist that, in the case of TGs, there are features which may be fine in one mode but not in another.
The question isn’t whether or not we have to deal with these features but how we deal with them, and this is where too many crossdressers wander into dangerous territory. They have an image in their mind of how they want to look, and they simply ignore any of their own features that don’t fit in well with that image. They’re so enchanted looking at the filmy blouse they’re wearing that they don’t see the whole picture – the broad shoulders straining the seams and the angular “tailored” face on top of the sheer ruffled neckline. They look in the mirror and see “feminine”, but the public, who are seeing the whole picture, see a marine sergent wearing his wife’s party dress.
Genetic women deal with this problem every day. Every woman I know has a style or color that she would dearly love to wear but can’t because she has the wrong kind of body or coloring: the 5’11 woman who envies her delicate 5’4 sister’s ability to wear tiny necklaces, and that 5’4 sister who in return wishes she could wear one of her tall sister’s leggy pants without looking like a bag lady.
From the time they first start talking about clothes for themselves instead of for their Barbies, girls learn that there are a few styles in which they look smashing, many others in which they look good, and unfortunately yet others that are simply wrong for them. They may love the look of this third group, but they don’t buy it. They sigh and fuss and begrudge but then move on to something from the first two groups, something that enhances their own features rather than fights with them.
Looking well turned out requires that our clothing and accessory choices play on our team and not on an opposing one. Genetic women spend years learning how to choose their “teammates” well, but most TGs don’t have any idea how to do the same. In Putting It Together we’ll be talking about how to make smart choices and build a wardrobe of teammates. If you’ve ever suspected that the looks you were getting weren’t ones of admiration, please join us here as we travel from incongruous to incredible.