Beware! Longest blurb ever! XD
Suddenly Emily (with convenient belly-blocking action)! :D
I think I've said the "confidence is the most essential tool for passing" speech a few times before in comments and replies to individual people. But I believe so strongly in this concept, that I really wanted it to be said in canon.
Story time: When I first started out, I was clocked by everyone immediately. Even if I managed to be in someone's presence passing for a couple minutes, it never lasted. See, I was ecstatic to be dressing the way I was, but my body language was telling the world around me that I was uncomfortable because no matter how much I wanted it, it was still strange and different to me. The fear of being unable to pass was ingrained in me and made me feel vulnerable.
And as a result, I stared at the floor so no one could see my face. My movements were stiff as a board. My voice was especially shaky and overdone. Whether they consciously realized it or not, people picked up on that. From there, some people intentionally gawked because they wanted to know what I was hiding. Some people probably meant well, seeing I was feeling off and trying to figure out how to help. And some people started feeling guilty because they'd think they were making me uncomfortable, only for me to unwittingly out myself by insisting they did nothing wrong. The whole thing was a mess. I sucked at passing.
In recent years, I've gotten better about my presentation, which made me more confident, which allowed me to pass better... which made me more confident... which made me better about my presentation. It's an nifty little cycle. By now, my movements are very fluid and natural, my voice is pretty good (in short stints), and I present myself like I've got nothing to hide, because I don't believe I do have anything to hide. And after all that, I choose to be visible anyway - which for me is empowering and raises my confidence all the more (because I feel like I have more control over my identity).
For what it's worth, I'm still a shy, awkward person, with social anxiety, low self-esteem, and a somewhat debilitating fear of crowds. But despite all this, I have confidence in WHO I am. I can always say to myself, "I know who I am. I'm a woman. I'm Jocelyn. No one can take that away from me." My general fears and anxiety and awkwardness remain, but at least I know I'm a woman. And when I came to the point where I started knowing I'm a woman - rather than hoping people see me as a woman - I began passing better and more frequently.
Everything else (hair, face, body, voice, etc) is less important than simply believing in yourself. I know how campy that sounds, but I so strongly believe this to be true.
So, getting back to Rain, Emily's point is very valid. Rain is super uncomfortable with her appearance, and it's apparent to everyone that she's uncomfortable. She's getting quiet/agitated when people criticize. She's hesitant to accept compliments. She's showing no pride for her look (which, who can blame her? But it makes everything seem all the more questionable).
What Rain needs, more than anything right now, is something to build her confidence back up again. That'd go a long way to help her right now. Her friends and family supporting her is a good start. But what Rain really needs right now is for Rain to support Rain.
But what could achieve that for her...?
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As cis I don't have much experience with this exactly, but....
I've tried cosplaying or just plain dressing up, but it's usually still just me in a costume. And I am PAINFULLY shy. Then, a few years ago, for the first time, I wore a cosplay that covered my face. I was able to separate myself from that weird shy girl and was the super outgoing person that apparently a lot of people online seem to think I am...? The same thing happened when I started doing puppets for kids at church again. Or even this past year when all I did was put on a wig. I felt more at ease with the separation from my anxieties, and basically, with that confidence, everyone else approached me more easily and felt more convinced in my character.
Confidence in yourself creates confidence in others that what they see is yourself. Or something like that...? Don't quote me on that or anything.
And again it's Emily who explains what's going on. She's pretty smart and knowledgeable, isn't she? ^_^
On the other hand, wouldn't Rain have already read all that online? Not sure what year it is in-universe, but 21st century anyway, so it's easy to find if she'd looked for info online.
Of course, reading it and actually believing it are different things, as anyone who's been in that situation can tell you.
I guess listening to Emily would have make me look like everyone around the table : "I didn't think about it but that sound really true". And "how did you manage to find out that and put it into words so quickly."
By the way the main comment I wanted to say is : Rain is awesomely cute in the 4th panel.
@SailorGwyn: How can you be confident without A HEAD?!
@k_dragon: It is difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.
That look that Rain is giving Emily in the last pane :3
They so getting together.
i have confidence in myself now but earlier in life when i was expected to present as male instead of female i was seen as lacking in self-confidence. i think that was because i felt and thought of myself as female even then and i believed my femininity was showing despite my efforts to hide it.
I am currently at this exact stage in my transition, having just started dressing fully feminine last week. It's been great, but this morning I felt like no matter what I put on, I only saw a boy in the mirror. I went to work with no confidence in my appearance or myself as a woman. But this page, and your post in particular spoke directly to me. I think you're totally right about the confidence thing. I'm going to rally mine and take the day head on cause even cis girls have bad hair days right? So thank you :)
I know this comic is more about how she feels she looks than how the rest of the world actually sees her, and I recognize that how our hair looks plays a major part in how we all feel about ourselves, but I wonder if someone could point out to Rain that she is concentrating too much on just one aspect of her appearance.
I'm cis, but have always envied the many ways women can decorate themselves from nail polish to barrettes and hairbands to scarves to hats to jewelry and makeup. Does the school's dress code prohibit even flowery hair barrettes or a lacy hairband? Can she wear even a little mascara to make her eyes more feminine?
What about her eyebrows? Looking at faces on the bus one winter when everyone was so bundled up against the cold that no one's figure I started looking at all the beardless faces without makeup around me to see what made some people look male and others female. It was their eyebrows! No guys tweeze or shape their eyebrows, and all the women did.
Good comic. You've made Rain so real to me that I want to give advice to her!
Arguably offensive, but only in the sense of cutting too close to general human nature ;)
This is one of my least favorite pages of the comic. Not because of the message, mind you. I believe the message it totally fine.
It just irks me how Emily got in between this nice little get-together so suddenly and immediately bombards us with a wall of text. It makes me feel uncomfortable...
But well, that's alright. It's also partly because Emily's message doesn't really relate to me. It means a lot to many other people ^_^