Through the Looking Glass, Column 12

Face and Hair Revisited Part 2

Today I continue with a very top-of-mind topic for me lately or perhaps I should say top-of-body, facial shapes and hairstyles.

Finally, after explaining why doing what I could for my femme face was so important to me, Dr. A, my surgeon here in L.A., suggested we do a fraction of what Dr. O had outlined so that I wouldn’t start looking oddly androgynous during the six and a half days a week I spend as a man. He would round off the corners of my chin but not touch my jaw angles and encouraged me to camouflage them with clever hair and makeup. And in so doing, he launched me on a whole new technical—and personal—learning experience. (Please enjoy the picture of me back in April with my mind blissfully off all my imperfections.)

In July, as my energy returned and my swelling—slowly—abated, I again set out to be an educated consumer, now in the world of wiggery rather than surgery. For years, I had gone to see Pattie, a funny, old Korean lady at my local wig shop. Her wigs were affordable (fifty to two-hundred dollars) and her styling was competent as long I could get my preferences across to her despite her limited English—and my more severely limited Korean. It looked like I was going to need a little more professional help, if I was to find a hairstyle to finish the facial feminization I didn’t dare to complete by the scalpel.

So, I turned to one of my miracle workers from the past—or at least her husband. Shoshanna and Yuri have run hair and makeup on TV sets for years. She had worked wonders with my makeup, and he now offered to help with my hair. I couldn’t have been more excited and was ready to drop some dollars to be working with such an expert. But wow, was it difficult to schedule appointments with him, and his wigs (human or synthetic) started in the quadruple figures. Not only that but he worked by sheer confidence and artistic inspiration—and never really had the time to explain things or respond to my concerns.

Several weeks and a few thousand dollars later, I described my wig saga to Linda Wade, our local Tri-Ess president and through her found Young Lee. Though a bit old, Young was the happy medium I needed. She is a Korean-American woman who speaks English well enough and does her best to answer my questions and explain her techniques. Her prices are mid-range, but still low enough for me to be able to experiment with new ideas and make sure I had enough money left over to tip her for the extra time she spent with me.

As I first sat in her chair, one thing that made me feel immediately comfortable was that she had a diagram of the seven major face shapes and the hairstyling do’s and don’t’s for each tacked up next to her mirror. I felt even more reassured when I saw how Young looked at my rectangular face and worked with these principles. Perfect, I thought, she’s definitely the hairstylist to camouflage what couldn’t be corrected, to complete my crossdresser’s version of FFS.

As some of you may know, there is a widely accepted theory behind the practice of hairdressing. It can help make sense of a world of confusing possibilities and guide you to the ones that might be right for you—and enrich your view of the women around you. Here’s how it goes. Faces are like pictures and hairstyles are like picture frames. Or better yet, faces are like bodies and hairstyles are like clothes. With respect to bodies, there seems to be an ideal shape, perhaps 5’8” 34-24-34, and to look your best you should choose clothes that maximize your assets and minimize—or at least distract from—your flaws.

Just like human bodies come in many different sizes, human faces come in a surprising variety of shapes. There seems to be seven major ones, and they are diamond, oval, round, rectangle, square, heart, and triangle. Though rectangle, square, and triangle (with its base on the ground) are more male, there are many women with faces essentially along these lines. The ideal female shape is an oval, or egg standing on its narrow end. The rule of thumb is that a great hairstyle should cleverly make you more oval—or less obviously non-oval—with well-designed internal and external lines and texture. Your hairdo is a picture frame with an internal edge, external edge, and its own color and consistency.

Okay, let’s start with those women and those exceedingly rare trans-people blessed with an oval face. Just like being a perfect size 8, you ladies are lucky enough to wear whatever you like: short, medium, long, curly and straight, it’s all good. You can pull it back, even slick it back if you like. Just don’t hide those lovely contours. Now, alas, for you diamonds, hearts, circles—and those of us even more facially challenged, I’ll have to beg your forbearance and ask you to hold off ‘til next month, while I go out and earn back some of the money I’ve so recently spent on hairstyling and surgery.

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.