by Melanie Yarborough

On a recent episode of The Drew Carey Show, Drew's brother "Steve" came out as a crossdresser. It was a sincere and credible depiction of us, but also significant was the fact that the overweight Steve actually presented well as plump "Stephanie". There seems to be a stereotype in the gender community that one has to be petite or have feminine features to be credible. Yet interestingly, a number of full-figured crossdressers have presented convincingly as.....full-figured women. Why?

Significant body fat, it seems, tends to androgynize. It softens facial features. Men's visages are often angular and hard; but extra fat can actually make it softer, rounder, more feminine. Also, men are broad in shoulders, heavy in waist, and narrow in the hips. Women are narrow in shoulders, flatter in waist, and wider in the hips. But heavy women are round everywhere, and heavy crossdressers are round everywhere. Make sense?

Heavy women also have an advantage in that they aren't necessarily scrutinized as much by passersby. Our society devalues obesity and idolizes anorexia, and people are more forgiving of a chubby woman's imperfections. In fact, they give her much less of a glance than they give to other women. This actually works to the heavy crossdresser's advantage; they're taken for just another overweight woman.  

As it happens, older age also tends to androgynize people. Senior males and females have similar creased skin and worn features, and are also overlooked by people. I've seen a number of older crossdressers who presented very well as elderly women.

Corpulent women also tend to wear looser, more flowing clothes. These have the advantage of further hiding masculine body attributes. Being a "Big Girl" means one can also wear bigger jewelry and more makeup. There's more body surface to cover, it's more proportional. And the good news is that more and more plus-size boutiques are springing up, catering to larger women.

However, a warning: just being more fleshy does not in-an-of-itself convey automatic femininity. One still has to pay attention to female voice, mannerisms, language usage, social cues, appropriate dress, and so on.

Divine, the queen-size star of numerous John Waters films including Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble and Polyester, made the image work. A lot of us can, too.

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