Thursday, 25 February 2021

Interview with Willow-Jayne Davies


Monika: Today I am going to introduce to you Willow-Jayne Davies, a British makeup artist, nail technician, and beauty pageant queen from Swansea in Wales. She is Miss Swansea Sparkle 2016-2019 and Miss Voluptuous UK finalist 2020. Hello Willow-Jayne! 
Willow-Jayne: Hello gorgeous! How are you?
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Willow-Jayne: My top three most used words/phrases are: “it is what it is “, “Same to be honest “ and “lovely”. I’m not necessarily saying that my vocabulary is limited, it’s that I don’t need a dictionary to choose from because my top three work in all types of conversation.
Monika: Willow-Jayne is not a common name. Why did you choose it?
Willow-Jayne: When I was around eight I was rushed into hospital for an emergency operation (testicular torsion), and as I was slowly being put under the anesthetic and wheeled to the operating theatre, my mum had said “You’re going to go in as William and come out as Willow“. At that point, it wasn’t a laughing matter, and I thought she was being serious.
So once I publicly transitioned I chose the name Willow because that one moment will always stay with me. I also wanted to add a little bit of fancy and opulence to my name and that’s where “Willow-Jayne” came about.

"If you know inside you are a woman then
why let anybody else tell you otherwise."

Monika: You hit the headlines two years ago when the British press covered your transition story. What has changed in your life since then?
Willow-Jayne: Once the articles were released I fell into a dark place simply because of the hate and threats I was getting from the general public but after some months it was something I learned to overcome, and now in terms of personal changes and my general outlook on life. I have taught myself not to care about what people think and say because things happen for a reason, and sometimes you do have to take the bus over the bumpy roads.
Monika: Do people still mistake you for Martine McCutcheon, the former EastEnders star as it was highlighted in the tabloids?
Willow-Jayne: It’s still something I have people comment on quite often but my mum hasn’t ever seen the resemblance. I did post the article on Twitter and tag Martine but she never replied.
Monika: A couple of months ago, you were supposed to participate in the final of Miss Voluptuous UK 2020.
Willow-Jayne: Due to the coronavirus and the event being held every October, unfortunately, I was unable to compete. However I have some amazing friends from entering the Miss Voluptuous UK, and I can’t thank the director Natalie Carley enough for being so warm and welcoming.
Monika: How did you prepare for the pageant? Did anyone help you with the outfits, makeup, and hair?
Willow-Jayne: Before I found out that finals would have been postponed, I started by planning some makeup looks and really perfected three specific looks that would work well with stage lighting and the camera. I then started to sketch out some drafts of the outfits and pieces I would wear.
When it comes to makeup and hair I never ask for help, and I have only ever had my makeup professionally done by somebody else once; that was for prom when I was sixteen. I like to have control over how I look, and that’s why I can only trust myself because if something goes wrong, I only have myself to blame.
Monika: I remember your beautiful prom picture, lovely makeup, and fantastic dress. Was it an unforgettable moment?
Willow-Jayne: Most definitely! I have always said that prom will always be the “big day“ before I get married.

"I have always said that prom will
always be the “big day“ before
I get married."

Monika: It was your second pageant, as you can boast the title of Miss Swansea Sparkle 2016-2019.
Willow-Jayne: Entering a UK-wide competition had been something I have wanted to do for many years as I really enjoy being on stage but unfortunately due to the pandemic and being unsure of finals were going to happen I pulled out.
Miss Swansea Sparkle was a fantastic night, and I got to meet many other trans women in the same position as me and today.
I still have close bonds with some of the women I met that night. However with Miss Voluptuous UK, it is a whole sisterhood, and I’m still making some forever friends through the system, and I will always look up to Aisha-Monic Namurach who was Miss Voluptuous Wales 2019/2020.
Monika: Do you think that the ideal of feminine beauty is changing and we can be both curvy and attractive in the opposition to what has been promoted in the last decades? 
Willow-Jayne: The fashion industry is getting better but the majority of plus-size models are only wearing a UK 14/16 and they have perfect curves. I do feel that trans people aren’t well-represented enough. In addition, binders and tucking panties need to become more widely available. 
Monika: We all pay the highest price for the fulfillment of our dreams to be ourselves. As a result, we lose our families, friends, jobs, and social positions. Did you pay such a high price as well? What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Willow-Jayne: The hardest thing was to feel comfortable in my own skin, and even now I struggle with my body image and weight gain but I am in a much healthier place mentally than I was when I first transitioned.
Another thing I struggled with was losing male privilege, and it is something that’s very real. As a male, I was never once cat-called or groped but as a woman, I’m constantly cat-called either online or in person, and I have been groped multiple times.
Monika: Thanks to your great parents, you could start taking puberty blockers at the age of 17. Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Willow-Jayne: I have been on hormone replacement therapy for two years as of February 2021, and it’s been the best thing that’s happened to me. However, the weight gain ... not so much.
Monika: We are said to be prisoners of passing or non-passing syndrome. Although cosmetic surgeries help to overcome it, we will always be judged accordingly. How can we cope with this?
Willow-Jayne: I hate to say it but I am very lucky to have passing privilege but I think we need to break the stigma of passing and not passing. Being a woman isn’t about how you look or how you dress, it’s about how you feel and your own truth. If you know inside you are a woman then why let anybody else tell you otherwise.

"I am very lucky to have passing privilege
but I think we need to break the stigma of
passing and not passing."

Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Willow-Jayne: Dominique Jackson who is widely known for her role in Pose as Elektra Wintour and Amanda Lepore who is known for being a part of the club kids scene and her body mods.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Willow-Jayne: To be quite honest not really, however, I was largely in awe over Robin Williams in his role as Mrs. Doubtfire. As I got older and I was around fourteen, I became a Ru Paul’s drag race addict and I still am to this day. I find the queens so inspirational and I have genuinely fallen in love with the art of drag.
Monika: Why do you find drag queens inspirational?
Willow-Jayne: I’m amazed at the hyper feminization and the art that goes into drag. 
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Willow-Jayne: Trans women in the UK are slowly becoming widely accepted and are slowly becoming a normal feature to most friendship circles but we are still not 100% safe from the danger of hate crimes and when the media portrays us as villains it certainly does not help us.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Willow-Jayne: I’m a massive follower and lover of Hermes and one of my main goals is to have a collection of rare Birkin bags. Generally speaking, I look at the art of drag as inspiration for my outfit choices. I mostly wear a lot of blacks and can’t be trusted near any white fabric as I’m a little clumsy. I would also love a pair of Christian Louboutin “So Kate” and a pair of “Pigalle” but they don’t make them in a UK 11.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Willow-Jayne: All of my makeup looks are based on off-drag looks; my base (foundation/contour /highlight) is taken from Mariah Paris Balenciaga. My eye makeup is from a mental catalog of the drag race looks I can remember, if not I’ll have a look at Instagram and my most searched for inspiration is Kim Chi and The Vivian. Makeup isn’t something I wear every day and usually only wear makeup twice a week at most but it makes me feel powerful and makes me feel like I can take over the world.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Willow-Jayne: Let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love positive attention. Think of it this way, if somebody is intentionally spreading hate about you then it just means that you are on their mind all of the time and to know that people are thinking about you all of the time makes you feel much better when you put it into perspective. So to answer your question ... yes I can’t get enough!
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Willow-Jayne: After leaving school, I rarely socialize. However, I still spread lots of awareness and LGBT+ positivity all over my social media. I know I may be physically fighting the battle of acceptance but I’m still doing my piece.

"Being a woman isn’t about how you
look or how you dress, it’s about
how you feel and your own truth."

Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Willow-Jayne: When I first transitioned nearly four years ago I had boys tell me they loved me and that they wanted me but it turned out that all they really wanted was to use me as their little experiment so they could feel better with themselves and it was really heartbreaking and it smashed my confidence to a pulp.
At the start of 2019, I had a new relationship and thought that he loved me for who I really was and again unfortunately it wasn’t what it seemed, and I was pressured into getting bottom surgery and taking loans out to pay to get surgical work done.
In June of 2019, he ended it and in July I found Ben! I accidentally met Ben on Bumble, we talked until two in the morning and we had made plans to meet the very next day once he had finished work. I can now say that I know what love is and have never felt as wanted as I ever have.
I have come to the conclusion that I don’t ever want bottom surgery and we are both happy with that because he loves me for me! Not to sound sappy or cliché but I have found the one and I have found somebody who I want to keep forever. He has helped me to become a better person, yes we may have our ups and downs but he is fantastic! 
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Willow-Jayne: It has crossed my mind a few times but after my life story was published in the British media I don’t really see the point as it’s already out there however if by some random circumstance that I become famous then I just might.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Willow-Jayne: At the moment I’m questioning whether or not to go into further education and possibly starting university. For the time being, I’d like to focus on myself. I am currently in talks with a director of a large Welsh film-making company and have plans in the near future to start working with them in front of the camera but I don’t want to reveal all of my secrets though, do I?
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls and women that are afraid of transition?
Willow-Jayne: As hard as it may be just do it! Even if it means losing friends and family! Would you rather keep your friends and family and live an unhappy life? Or would you rather live a happy life as yourself with your real friends and family who choose to stick with you?
Monika: My pen friend Gina Grahame wrote to me once that we should not limit our potential because of how we were born or by what we see other transgender people doing. Our dreams should not end on an operating table; that’s where they begin. Do you agree with this?
Willow-Jayne: I agree in some aspects but not all trans people have surgery or want it and I think to say that your dreams start at an operating table really limits trans people's aspirations and puts us all into a category that surgery is our only option to happiness. 
Monika: Willow-Jayne, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Willow-Jayne: It’s been lovely talking to you!

All the photos: courtesy of Willow-Jayne Davies.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

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