• Stephanie Ashton

Oh You Pretty Thing!

David Bowie, Hunky Dory, 1971

This blog is the start of a thread all about cross dressing services. Yaaay! I am feeling very happy writing about this subject because I can say definitively and without doubt, visiting a good service is still one of my all time most favourite experiences. Having dressed for years socially it is strange to some that I still enjoy paying to do what I can do at home for free whenever I want. Well my friends, the reasons are simple as I will go on to explain below!

Before I start talking about my experiences it is only fair to credit all the wonderful people past and present who have been involved in running a dressing service. On the surface of it, these people provide a relatively straightforward service for a fee. But look a little deeper and you can easily see that these artists make other peoples dreams come true on a daily basis. They enable us to explore different aspects of our personality and for some, take steps towards being the woman they believe themselves to be. Take a minute and think about it...how many of us can say that about our job? Change lives and make dreams come true?

So out of my deep respect for everyone involved in such services I do not plan to name individual organisations or the people who run them. Okay, I acknowledge the red couch and sun-drenched white studio in my gallery are for many readers a dead give away as to the places I have visited recently. But my point is that I prefer not to name or differentiate between the services visited over many years, as most are run by kind and caring people whom I deeply respect and care about.

Ample additions

So back to Stephanie, where did it all begin and why?

I had been going out and about in Manchester dressed for a number of years before I first thought about visiting a dressing service. As I describe in the Atomic blog, I had female friends who could do my make-up for free, I had my own "things" and didn't need any advice. The other reality was that dressing services were expensive and felt a bit seedy and furtive. And most importantly, what fun would it be sitting in a closet with some old woman versus going out with my wild young female friends?

So, all of the above points were true but then the internet changed everything. Suddenly gorgeous tgirls started to appear on my bulbous PC monitor in my bedroom. And some of these gurls looked amazing, like Hollywood stars. Wow. They had much better beard coverage, they had amazing hair, and they were dressed like they had walked off the set of Dynasty. Wait a minute? Where did they go to get made over like that? Surely it isn't their own work and even if it is, they must have a professional photographer?

Hello, the professional make-over service.

So, with the addition of some more monies - thank you employer - I promptly exchanged messages with various gurls and pranced off to my first high-end dressing service appointment. And it was amazing. There are no other words for it. The quality of the make-over and very different look reduced me near to tears. I remember to this day thinking how pretty I looked. You see, no mater how many times you visit a really great make-over service it should transport you to a different place and provides an insight into your full femme potential. In many cases, the makeover artists may suggest looks you have never tried and introduce you to new styles you would never have considered otherwise. In my case it is also super shocking that when the wig goes on and I look in the mirror...I see my sister staring back at me! That is still a super strange moment :D

As many dear friends know, seeing ourselves fully made up is immediately a sea of emotion...joy, shock, happiness, uncertainty, sickness, euphoria and all the rest. Nowadays I only feel euphoria that Stephanie is whole again and its a wonderful feeling.

This one I call "model without a clue"

And then comes the pictures...what is it with tgirls and pictures? Honestly, tgirls would make the worst spies. Security services hunting for a gurl spy would only need to pull out a camera and then pick up the person who has immediately snapped into the most outrageous pose.

Pictures have become an essential output from a high-quality dressing service. Good pictures enable part time dressers to have something to look at when they are back in drab mode. In many ways I view pictures as an anti-depressant against drabness and many girls will spend hours and hours playing with pictures after a session. This is not (only) because they are vain and self obsessed...it is because their desire to dress is so strong they need the imagery and connection to the happy memories to suppress the negative feelings they often get when back in drab life. For myself, I like to maintain a portfolio of nice pictures with the hope of using them to advance my personal business interests, but I do understand why others need pictures and online validation more than myself.

Stand me in a door way and point a camera and look what happens...

Which brings us nicely onto the post dressing service dip, the emotional roller-coaster following a wonderful dressing service visit. In my experience there is an irony that the better the dressing service and the emotional high, the worse the post-match dip will be afterwards, unless coping mechanisms are in place. The problem is that you have just been made to look a million dollars and now you want to look like that ALL the time. More worrying is when you reach the stage of wanting to FEEL like that all the time. And when you progress onto wanting to go out and BE FELT...cough...well that is an entirely different blog. But you cannot do any of these things because you need to return to your current primary life and that is where the dip starts.

There is an additional problem for dressers that are in a relationship that either barely tolerates the practice or is completely unaware of it. You have just had a massively life changing experience and the one person you should be able to share your emotions and feelings with...is closed to you. This is where many of us turn to friends on social media to cherish the emotions and share pictures as a way of seeking assurance. It is of course wonderful that so many girls support each other in this way, but ultimately it is important to realise there is a MEGA domestic problem brewing if you have a partner with whom you cannot share your feelings with about this experience. As with everything else in relationships, the things you don't share are things that create distance and sometimes resentment. I never judge or advocate a course of action because I am not wise enough to do so - but it is worth recognising that the inability to share the experience with a partner is a common factor in the post dressing service dip.

Pout factor 10 engaged

And so, the post dressing service emotional dip is a recognisable feature for most of us. In fact, I would go so far as to say, I know how much a friend enjoyed their last session by

1. How many thousands of shots they post after the event

2. What level of sadness they have achieved 2 weeks later

So, having come off an addictive high what are the coping mechanisms? For myself, its about sharing the experience and talking about it, then planning my next adventure. I have some interest in pictures, but I can dress whenever I like so am not so interested. In truth I am becoming more and more resistant to the thrill of dressing services and am more interested in shoots with other girls or big themed project shoots. Both I will discuss in the blogs Girls on Film and Just Can't Get Enough.

And so, there are my starting thoughts on dressing services, thoughts and emotions they invoke, and some coping mechanisms. I am in a super chilled place so love dressing services and the people who run the ones I visit. On that basis if you are reading this blog because you are interested, then I recommend you visit one if you have not done so already. Four hours with a caring makeover artist may give you an insight into girl-you that is way beyond your current imagination. Just remember...with the joy of the experience may come an insatiable hunger for more :D