Since the beginning of my search for my authentic outer presentation, something that matches more closely what goes on inside, I have vigilantly guarded against resurrection of those old macho reactions. Apart from a few more extreme situations encountered over the last three months, I have had good success. So far, I have not detected many rehearsed reactions. This was my main goal; to allow spontaneous ‘Halle responses’ to guide my behaviors.
At the same time, I have become much more sensitive to the behavior and appearance of males encountered daily (please remember reading the following that these are observations in Canada and the media of North America. I have no idea to what extent they apply in the rest of the world). I have become convinced that the ‘standard macho over-rehearsed reactions’ and exaggerated stooping and 'over the pants' stomach growth I had observed in myself are quite common in men in general. If anything, it seems the tendency toward macho behavior and slumping posture are prominent in the very young (teenagers attempting to establish their place among their peers) and then intensify some again as they age (attempts to maintain that status?). My sweetie would be quick to point out that most of my male friends are not like that, and this might explain why they are comfortable with my recent behavior; not feminine but way less macho or stereotypical than typically seen.
My shift in self-image and the acceptance it has brought has only reinforced my care for my health. Most of the women I know (most in the sixty to seventy year range) concern themselves with balanced dietary practices, and a moderate to heavy exercise program. To generalize, the men on the other hand will eat anything they can. Those eating a healthy diet do so mostly to keep their wives happy (or so they say, to appear to be conforming to some male façade??). Body image even among these open-minded male friends is not a concern. Among the vast majority of men in the community I live in, it would be fair to say they do not notice the details; nail length, random growth of hair from various locations, bushy eyebrows, etc.
As Melissa observed recently, it is mostly women who pay attention when we remove leg or arm hair, and thin out those eyebrow bushes.
Personally, the concern I have for the confirmed males out there has to do with obesity, and the effects it has on back health, as well as the health of many internal organs. It has puzzled me that so many are self-destructive, as though they are worried that to pay attention to body size would be the same as being concerned with body image, and that might lead to, OMG, feminization!!!
Is it possible that in our culture’s definition of ‘male’ we do not find a set of positive attributes, but simply instructions that say “don’t be a woman”? Is it possible that ‘being male’ in North America has come down to such a simple negative? If so, it goes a long way toward explaining the negative reaction the MTF receives among the male population.
By refusing to define ourselves with a declaration “I am not a woman”, we challenge not just a societal norm, but the personal self-image of every ‘real man’ we encounter. We seem to say to them, ‘you are the phony one.’ Perhaps it is true that it takes a real man to wear a dress!
Just a thought.