Sara was a fifteen year old boy when she (at that time ‘he’) finally mustered the courage to tell her mother that she wanted to be a girl.  Sara’s parents decided to take her to a doctor, who diagnosed her as GID. Sara was lucky to have understanding parents and could start hormone therapy young enough.

Sara made her way to become a fashion model. However, the modeling industry is not an easy place for a male-to-female transgendered person.

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A Supermodel

Fairer than the Fairer Gender

Chapter 1 – The Beastly Glamour World

I stand in front of the mirror and appraise myself. Tall, long legs and shiny well-toned arms. A well-defined jaw-line that runs high along the face. A forehead that is quite wide, allowing me to sport a wide spectrum of hair-styles. Well-sculpted cheek bones that would look good even when I grow older. My skin is quite clear: the perfect canvas for any make-up artiste. A noble straight-bridged nose that is slightly upturned at the tips runs along the middle of my face.

My gaze shifts beneath the head. A nice neck veering towards the lengthy, but that’s seen as an asset in the modeling industry. Especially, if you want to be on the runway. So is height seen as an advantage. That way, I am quite fortunate to be an enviable 5’8. For a ‘woman’ that is. I look at the breadth of my shoulders and the size of my feet and wonder if anybody will guess that I am an MTF….’No, don’t be silly’ I tell myself ‘It’s all in the mind’. Either way, shoulders a bit broad can carry away a plethora or looks, be it be Eastern or Western, and a huge foot-size could also be an advantage—when encased in high heels, they arch very well and make one’s calf-zone look much longer. And I could very well do with some height in the calf-region because it is ever so slightly shorter than the average aspiring model I am competing with. This is because genetic males have slightly shorter calves than females. ‘What if someone with a keen eye happens to notice it and find out that I am an MTF…?’ the doubt rankles in my mind. I tell myself that such thoughts are silly. It doesn’t matter as long as I feel fully and completely female—from the inside. Confidence. That’s the key. That’s what the doctors and counselors keep telling me. ‘Believe in yourself’ I give myself the auto-suggestion ‘You are as good as any real girl out there!’

My Smartphone rings. I pick it up to find that it is from my agent Jon. ‘Sara’ he says in his crisp, confident voice ‘I hope you have your portfolio ready? The agency will be expecting it’.

The port-folio. Of course. How could I have forgotten the most important thing? I strictly tell myself to focus and to quit concentrating on the wrong things. I fish out the assortment of photos that I had got clicked a few months back. Beautiful shots against different backgrounds. Most of them have been shot in natural light, giving agencies a chance to see what I actually look like. The make-up is minimal or hardly there, accentuating my raw natural beauty.

‘Jai, the photographer is really good’ I think to myself ‘He’s been able to get all the expressions right. Not a thing is amiss: the anger in the smoldering eyes, the lightness of spirit bursting forth as laughter on the lips and the sensual sulky pout–are all perfect. He has been able to metamorphose me from a light fay-like spirit to an angst-ridden renegade, over the course of just a few pictures. He has been successful in capturing the entire range of emotions present inside a single person. And his directions were minimal.

‘Actually, he has forgotten to capture something’ a little nagging voice inside me says ‘the fear that you persistently feel day in and day out—the fear of being exposed as an MTF transgender’. I smother the voice immediately. The world is already a difficult place to live in. Getting paranoid would only make things worse.

I turn my attention back to the portfolio. Great positioning and posturing. The balanced healthy diet, loads of fluid and personal grooming has been helping. And so also the regular fitness regimen that comprises a jog at the first blush of morning, followed by yoga, and Pilates; cardio, salsa and belly-dancing in the evening. My body stays in good ectomorphic tall and lean shape, so any clothes that they put on me would look nice. As Jon, my pillar of support, was telling me once, I’d look great with even a gunny-bag thrown on me. In spite of the hormone therapy and other MTF cosmetic surgeries, my breast size remains one cup smaller than that of my mother’s. Yet, that seems to be an advantage rather than a disadvantage in the fashion industry, especially the runway, where small breasts seem to be preferred. This is because to showcase the cut, fall and details of a particular garment to its best advantage, you don’t need to have too many details of your own. Also, I have noticed that the models on the ramp don’t sport a bra and wear neat skin colored panties underneath those designer clothes. Ungainly undergarments, like an especially conspicuous bra strap or thick-seamed panties, are a definite taboo.

The phone rings again and I pick it up with vexation. ‘Yes, Jon?’ I can’t keep the irritable edge out of my voice. I instantly regret it. Jon is one true well-wisher I have and I can’t allow myself to get waspish with him. ‘Sorry to disturb you again, Sara’ comes his soft apologetic voice from the other end ‘but I wanted you to make a note of your measurements’.

By measurements, Jon means the usual: height, weight, bust, waist, hip, dress and shoe size. ‘Just throw in the hair color, eye color and skin tone, will you?’ Jon suggests.

‘Such close details?’ I ask teasingly, thanking my lucky stars that there is at least one person on earth with whom I can talk freely ‘Are you getting me to audition for an international agency or what?’

‘No, this one is local’ Jon clarifies ‘but be prepared, honey. You never know when fortune comes knocking at your door’.

That’s Jon for you. Always encouraging, forever optimistic. However, the agencies haven’t been this way—so far, at least. ‘Don’t take their rejections personal’ I tell myself. Maybe be my kind of looks just don’t fit their list. Yet a disconcerting doubt lingers. Maybe it’s something else…..

I take a shower and quickly get ready. I don’t pick anything over-dressy: just a neatly cut-pair of blue skinny jeans and a light cotton t-shirt. Except for a hint of kohl, mascara and colorless lip-gloss, my face is free of make-up. I wear my straight black shining waist-length hair loose. I notice with satisfaction that my long bangs have covered my high slightly masculine forehead and the bony ridge right above the eye-brows that they call ‘The brow-crossing’.

I allow myself a spot of indulgence when it comes to shoes and wriggle my feet inside the most stylish pair of red clogs. A red hand-bag slung over one shoulder and I am ready to audition.

Ironically, the audition to the most glamorous industry in the world is being held in a dingy basement. As I descend down the stairs, an unpleasant musty odor assaults my nostrils. It seems like it has been a while since the basement was used. As I come to the bottom of the stair case, a desk comes to view. Three people are seated behind it. The first, I recognize as Tara Chandani, who is the head of a reputed modeling agency. She has the distinction of being a highly proficient model hunter and a great task-master—a quality that shows in the hard lines of her square face. The other two people are Cyrus Mistry and Hiren Patel, the famous Indian designer duo. They are supposed to be big cheese in the industry and everybody worships them. However, their outlandish appearance doesn’t impress me much, especially that of the short squat Hiren Patel’s. He is wearing a jacket two sizes too small for him and is bursting through the buttons. It’s an unpleasant sight.

At the far end of the room, stands a guy in his mid 30s. He is wearing camouflage pants and an olive green t-shirt. He has a languid style about him. A camera is slung around his neck .. I don’t have to see the badge on his t-shirt to recognize him as Gaurav Khanna, the celebrity fashion photographer.

There are chairs in front of the desk where many girls—my competitors—are seated. I recognize one tall sharp-feature vixen-like minx. Nikki. ‘Oh no, not here!’ I sigh wearily. Nikki and I share a history. We went to the same school, the same college and our parents socialized in the same circle. Nikki had the habit of aping whatever I did and concocting various nasty little conspiracies to pull me down. Presently, I am terrified of the possibility of Nikki’s pulling off some unscrupulous trick to sabotage my success. I fervently pray that the devious little minx hasn’t seen me.

However, she turns. And sort of winks and smirks at the same time. I feel butterflies flutter in my stomach. The sight of Jon standing at the far end of the room calms me down. He catches my eye and waves. I wave back.

It took quite some time before my turn arrived. The girls were called to the desk one by one and each strutted her stuff in front of the selectors. Subconsciously, I started evaluating their eyebrows, noses, cheeks and lips and compared them to my own. My eyebrows were as arched, nose as small, cheeks and lips as full. My surgeon and cosmetologist hadn’t done too bad a job.

My turn finally arrived. The judges looked at my portfolio and exchanged glances of approval among themselves.

‘What are your stats?’ Tara Chandani asked me.

’34- 25- 34, Ma’am’ I replied truthfully. The ‘perfect’ model was typically expected to have a ’36-24-36’ figure, but nowadays the modeling industry had relaxed it’s a bit rules and looked at other aspects like individuality, confidence, originality and all that as well. Hence, I didn’t feel the need to lie. Any such fib could be detrimental to one’s future in the long run.

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