Through the Looking Glass, Column 11

Face and Hair Revisited Part 1

Welcome back through the looking glass. Forgive me, my friends, but this month I’m going to break away from my series on What Crossdressers Want to Know to begin a new series on something much more top-of-mind for me lately, facial shapes and hairstyles. I hope to weave back and forth between these topics over the next few months.

Having been a once-a-week woman since ’95, I haven’t needed to think much about these things for the last decade or so. Besides, I got plenty of admiration for my femme side, including a seven-year boyfriend. So I figured, Ain’t broke. Don’t fix it. Why rethink anything?

But after Frank and I broke up last January, I found myself searching for a steady man in the same vexing tranny-and-admirer scene that I had struggled with for three years before finding him, only with the “advantage” of ten years more, hmm . . . experience compared to the other girls out in the clubs, including a few of that much-feared variety: fresh, Filipino, and far swishier than I’ll ever be. It was totally intimidating. I had to do what I could.

On top of it all, I had just spent about year on the road promoting Alice in Genderland and, for the first time, had been photographed from all sorts of angles, not just the full-frontal view that I had always seen and liked in the mirror. Ouch, that chiseled chin and that all-too-square jaw! Fortunately, I had had my nose done in ’96 and never had much in the way of an Adam’s Apple, goat’s horns, or any of the other obviously male features.

Convinced I needed more help, I braced myself for that rite of passage in our world, known as Consulting with Dr. O. With as much compassion as humanly possible, he and his assistant, Mira, informed me of the cold, hard truth. There were reasons why I had those bad angles and never really passed, and these could be spelled out simply in terms of things like chin and jaw-corner length, width, and shape. This jaw geometry is what accounts for the classically rectangular male face versus the ideally oval (egg-shaped) female face. When I saw what a study they had made of men’s and women’s faces, I could see they were right. Though I let Dr. Ousterhout know that I was happily married and not looking to go full time, he still recommended facial surgery that would essentially give me the lower face of a woman. He explained that it would gradually emerge as the swelling subsided and somehow still keep me looking regular enough as a man.

I couldn’t fully believe it and realized that I might have to take serious risks with my face as a man in order to look better as a woman. I felt a lump in my throat but swiftly sought refuge in social appropriateness. I heartily thanked Dr. O and Mira for the expertise, care, and time they had shared with me and made my way back to the car. But I was no doubt more deeply disturbed than I realized, because as I pulled my car out the parking garage, I heard a horrible screech and just realized that I had rubbed my SUV up against the corner of the parking attendant’s booth.

Though fully capable of doing what Dr. O had recommended it, my surgeon back home in L.A. balked at doing any of it for fear that I’d look too dramatically different—and worse—as a man. Oy, when your kind, caring pros completely disagree! Finally, after explaining why doing what I could for my femme face was so important to me, he suggested rounding off the corners of my chin and camouflaging the rest of my still-rather-rectangular face with clever hair and makeup, which was the start of a whole new technical—and personal—learning experience that I plan to share in September.

Life’s rich, complex, and full of possibilities. Be careful and enjoy!

Alice Novic, M.D.

To learn more about me than you’d ever dare to ask, please see my smart, sexy memoir, Alice in Genderland: A Crossdresser Comes of Age.

Also, if you wish to eMail Alice with Questions, Comments or Topics for Future Through the Looking Glass Articles, feel free to send her an eMail at or to Post any Comments below.