Coloring to Reflect (Today’s Daily Work of Art)

I finally started a page in the “Trans Affirming Coloring Book” I purchased a while back. I do not like to engage with the human figure in any way artistically, for reasons I do not fully understand. The adult coloring book seemed like a low-risk way to explore some of my feelings and thoughts on this.

I recall having dolls as a child, and sketching human figures as a young teenager. I then went on to develop an eating disorder which may have been the start of my lack of comfort. I think it was when I came into awareness of the extent of my trauma history and my dissociation that I not only disliked looking at myself in the mirror, but also began to have substantial difficulty in connecting with any form of artwork that related to a person/the human body. I prefer visual art that is either abstract or of natural settings with no people present.

The longer I’m sitting with this topic, the more it makes me think I need to create a self-portrait so that I can approach rather than avoid this topic. I didn’t think twice about the fact that the coloring book sat unused for months on my living room table, but I now see that it represents a huge block I have inside of me in regards to how I relate to myself. I want to ease myself into the idea of sitting in front of a mirror or looking a photograph of myself to create an image, so I will start by completing more pages in it. How do you feel in regards to images of people? Have you ever created a self-portrait? What reflections have coloring books shown you?

Taking a Self-Portrait (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

For a trans non-binary person who is now a few months on T, I’ve been taking surprising few photographs of myself. I think that I am scared about experiencing changes I don’t want more than I am focused on the ones that show up that cause me gender euphoria. This reflects my punishment-averse nature much more than it does my potential ambivalence about taking T.

My transition goal is to appear as androgynous as I can with some hints of masculinity (leading to me falling into the unfortunate “vaguely masculine” stereotype of non-binary people which ignores trans and non-binary femme people entirely). I think I’m already pretty much facially androgynous, so I feel uncertain about my next steps. In general, I love what T has done to my mind, my issues with my cycle and my energy level, but I have mixed feelings about its effect–present and future–on my physical appearance. On the other hand, I’ve been vibing on considering having people use “he/him” pronouns in addition to “they/them,” so I think there is some fluidity and ambiguity in terms of my end goals.

As I snapped a pic of myself, I immediately focused on any signs of aging and any negative aspects of my appearance. I had a full-blown eating disorder as a young adolescent and am extremely conscious of any signs that my weight has increased, so my eye was drawn especially to the puffiness of my cheeks. To me, beauty is reflected in one’s comfort with themselves. I am so comfortable with my personality and how I show up in the world, but I shrink back and feel exposed when any attention, positive or negative, is drawn to my physical appearance. This exercise has shown me the ongoing disconnect I have with my body. I want to trace the photograph I took and study it until I love it or at least until I know it as myself. How do you feel when you see yourself? If you appreciate your own appearance, especially if you did not do so in the past, what helped you achieve this?