This month’s Eye Candy Girl is a long time coming. We first met her a couple of years ago when she won the Cougar Category in our Glamour Girl Contest. Since then, she has gone on to become an accomplished author. She even took a bunch of photos at home for our interview. We hope you are as excited as we are to get to know the lovely Karan Lyra.
Hi Karen. We are so glad to be able to talk to you today. Why don’t we start by telling our readers where you’re from?
Hello! I am very excited to have this chance to share with you! I was born in a beautiful South American country but because of studies and work I have been travelling abroad very often and been able to stay and live for some periods of time in other countries, getting the incredible experience of sharing with people of different cultures and languages. They say home is where our heart is and a piece of mine remains at many of the places I have lived. As you may know by now, Spanish is my mother language, but I try my best to express myself in English to be able to know more people from different parts of the world that speak that language.
When did you first start dressing and how did it come about?
My first-time dressing in female clothes happened when I was five years old. There were a couple of experiences I had with a girl at school that contributed to my interest in girl’s stuff and the wish to dress like them. I used to play a lot with that girl at school and sometimes she asked me to paint my nails with a red pencil or put her headband on me. She was always saying I could look cute in a dress and invited me to play dress-up at her house. Although I never went to her house to play, I imagined myself dressing like her in a girl’s school uniform and wished I could do it. One day at home I tried the skirt of my sister’s school uniform and it felt wonderful. I wanted to dress completely in her clothes but ran away wearing the skirt when I heard my mother calling me. I took off the skirt and hid it. I didn’t know then why I wanted to hide but I remember I really loved wearing the skirt and wanted to try wearing my sister’s clothes to look at myself fully as a girl. That was how it began for me at five years old and from that experience on I looked for opportunities to “borrow” my sister’s clothes until one day I could dress completely in her school uniform and was amazed at seeing myself like any other girl. I felt so happy! However, that experience almost ended in being caught by my mother. I ended up hiding in a closet still completely dressed as a schoolgirl and feeling scared of being discovered and confused at why I had to hide my feelings of wanting not only to dress as a girl but to be one of them.
How did you come up with your Femme name?
When I was young and was crossdressing, there were times when I used some female names for me but changed them very often. It was much later when I was very seriously involved in my gender identity issues and exploring dressing as a woman as much as I could that I wanted to choose a name. Finally, my femme name “Karen” was taken very late when I was already married. I took it after a friend of my wife that we met together on the street one day. What happened was an amazing coincidence because Karen was wearing a red mini dress that was the same as the one I had for myself at home. Not only that; she also had long brown hair past her shoulders and the wig I had bought for me at that time was very similar to her natural hair. She had green eyes and I did too. Her makeup, the way she talked, moved, her amazing smile, her overall look was the perfect image of femininity that I wanted for myself. I wanted to look as beautiful, confident and happy as she. After we met, when I had the chance to stay at home alone and dress as a woman again, I wore that red mini dress once more and looking at my image in the mirror I decided my name was going to be Karen.
How often do you dress?
I wish I could say I dress all I want and freely but that is not the case. Not yet. It is never as often as I would like to and because I am not out to anyone my chances are a bit limited. At the beginning I used to do it at home when having opportunities to be alone but that became more difficult every time, so I don’t dress as a woman at home anymore. For the time being I only dress as a woman when I travel and take advantage of having a week out of my hometown and on my own almost every month for my time en femme at hotels. Those are the times I enjoy being myself a lot and feel so good to be and express myself as I feel.
Are you married/in a relationship? If yes, are you able to share your female self with your partner?
I am married and have children. We live a happy family life, but I haven’t shared my female self with any of them. This is very hard because many times I feel bad for not being honest with my family. I know many girls like me live similar situations and some have been very open and sincere to their families and were blessed to be supported. There are many that are not that lucky. Even though situations can be similar the circumstances are not always the same and I believe each of us struggling with gender identity issues must find what is our proper time to take that step of opening to our loved ones and say what we feel. In my case, my wife is a wonderful woman who I love very much. Unfortunately, she is not supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. I come from a very conservative family and it is the same for her. All our relatives are the same. I struggled for so long to understand and see life differently and I don’t feel like pushing things to say the truth about myself to others if I can’t do anything with that truth yet and it can cause pain on others, on me, and break my family. I think it is not my time yet. At this moment my family is my priority, and my decision is to not to tell my wife anything yet. It is very difficult and I feel sad to keep my female self as a secret from everyone I know but given my current life circumstances I prefer to keep it that way by now.
You’re a former Glamour Girl Cougar Winner. Tell us what goes into getting the perfect photo for the contest.
Thank you so much for that! It was a very big surprise for me! I submitted my photos for the contest and couldn’t follow up on the progress as I had to be offline for several months and didn’t even check the email I use as Karen. Months later I logged into my email again and found the email from you with the incredible news that I had won in my category and I couldn’t feel any happier. It was one of the most beautiful and unbelievable things that have happened to me.
For the photos I took for the contest, I thought of the dress, heels, wig, makeup, etc. that could help me project the image of how I feel when dressing as a woman more than trying to produce a given look. I was not looking for a sophisticated image of myself and tried to show myself a more natural look. Once I heard a lady saying the attitude of a woman while dressing is more important than the clothes and makeup she wears. That is something I try to remind myself every time I dress because I really enjoy expressing myself that way.
When I am dressed as a woman and think of taking pictures or videos, I try to prepare the place where I want to take the pictures before dressing to find which are the best angles and lightning of the place (good lightning is challenging at hotel rooms) and take photos and videos to see how the place and spots look without having me on them. I use automatic photo shoots, so I have to plan well the different places for the camera to stand. What comes next for me is to let music of female singers that I like fill the room to help setting the right mood while getting dressed and my makeup on and with that musical background it is just a matter of having fun in front of the camera and enjoying it!
You wrote a book, ‘Finding Myself: Discovering My Gender Identity..’ Can you tell us about it?
The experience of writing the book and publishing it has been something very important and challenging in my life. It’s an autobiographical book that travels back in time since I was a child and wanted to dress as a girl and comes back to the present time going along my life and how I was questioning my gender identity and feeling about it.
As I say in its introduction, “Finding myself” is a result of an inner journey I decided to start some years ago making decisions in my life to get deep into understanding who I am. For me, putting our experiences and thoughts into words helps deeply in knowing and understanding ourselves better to discover more about our innermost feelings and life desires. In my case, only a few years ago I realized I am transgender and became aware that I have lived all my life not suppressing a “part of me”, as I once thought, but suppressing my true self. Except for one friend, I am not out to anybody in my real life yet and it may take a while until taking that step so I wanted to put my words out there in a book to share all I have been through since the very first moment of my life that I wanted to be a girl. By writing this book I am giving myself the chance to be out somehow, but I also hope it can become a way to reach others that might be in a similar questioning situation about their gender identity and possibly let the lines of the book be part of what they may need to read to move forward in the path of their own self-discovery journeys.
What are some of your favorite outfits/fashions?
Well, that makes me think when I plan to buy my clothes and really would like to try and buy all that I see! I love short dresses and miniskirts; they are my favorites… coming behind lingerie! Panties and bras are what I like the most when I dress and reminds me of my first crossdressing experiences as a child and my thoughts that I was going to become a supermodel once I was growing up… Makeup is something I have experienced since I was very young and devoted a lot of time to learning and practice. I consider myself good at it but there are so many things to keep on learning. I am always amazed at what can be achieved with makeup and love it. I like to experiment with different looks and for that I enjoy changing my appearance with wigs of several styles, lengths and colors. It’s wonderful how with a given outfit the look changes dramatically depending on the wig. I don’t have a preferred type of wig but I have many. I enjoy having fun with hair of different colors and styles.
Stockings or pantyhose?
I like both! My choice is made depending on what I am dressing and the look I feel I want to have. But there is something in stockings that I find sexier and is what I wear most of the time when dressed as a woman.
Heels or flats?
Heels! Of course! They are amazing and I feel they naturally help to make changes in the posture to achieve a female appearance… and the experience of walking on them and hearing the sound they make on the floor is like heavenly music to me! I love heels with platforms too although they end up making me look taller but I found walking on them easier and more comfortable.
Favorite places to go when dressed?
I have gone out dressed as a woman very few times and only on my own to take a walk on the streets or parks early at night to avoid crowds. I wish I can change that soon as I want to have real-life experience as a female, going out meeting other people and places and enjoying time as a woman.
Go to accessories for a night out
For a night out I would wear golden earrings, necklaces, and bangles. I have different sets of them that go from the very casual style to the more formal ones. It depends on my mood and the place I would go so I decide what to dress and how the accessories can combine with it to make my whole image complete without overdoing it.
Who is/are your female role model(s) and why?
This is an interesting question and in fact I have a chapter of my book dedicated to this matter that I find very relevant in my case because it was useful to realize how those role models influenced me during my self-discovery journey. If I go along my life from when I was a teenager until now, I can say there are many women that I took as role models because of how they inspired me in different stages of my life. But, without doubt, Caroline Cossey is the one I will always refer to as my role model. When I knew about her story it was a sign of hope as I realized my dream of becoming a woman could be possible.
Tell us some fun facts about yourself. What are your hobbies (either when dressed or not), likes, things you do in your spare time, or anything else you would like to share?
There was a time I was very much into extreme sports but I don’t do that anymore. I love being outside at natural places and prefer that than being in the city. I have been lucky to be able to travel to very beautiful natural places in different countries. I love music. It is very important for me. It is the special company I can always have with me no matter where I am. My favorite type of music is country. There was a time I thought I would like to be a musician. I learned how to play the guitar and wrote some songs of my own. I also dedicate my spare time to writing a diary, finding it very therapeutic and helpful to find peace of mind. In my diary I write down almost every day many of the relevant things that happen to me and my thoughts about them.
Any stories you would like to share about yourself and your journey?
I have many stories and several of them are part of my book. There is one anecdote I would like to share with you here: the only time one member of my family had the chance to see me as a woman. It didn’t happen in person but I got very nervous anyway although I ended up receiving an unexpected compliment. It was once that I thought I had the screen of my PC locked after I had logged in Facebook with my female profile when my daughter of eight years old came in, touched the keyboard and the screen was activated showing my profile picture as a woman to her. I was terrified! She asked me “Who is that girl?” while looking at my picture and I was nervous thinking she could recognize me behind the makeup and wig. It was too late to close the screen and she even read the profile name aloud and asked me who “Karen Lyra” was. The conversation was a combination of mixed feelings because my daughter kept asking me about “Karen Lyra” and I wanted to finish the conversation without letting her know I was nervous of having her able to discover the truth. I said “Karen” was a friend I haven’t seen in a long time so I didn’t know much about her and what my daughter said after was an undeniable truth without her knowing it: “If Karen is your friend you should know more about her. But maybe she has secrets, a hidden identity perhaps?”. At that moment I had to close the screen and asked her to go out somewhere else with me to end the conversation before somebody else appeared. Just when I locked the screen and power it off my daughter said: “She is pretty” and I felt relieved and happy that she didn’t recognize me.
If you have social media, what is the best way for others to follow you?
I used to have Facebook and Instagram and was very active in those social networks but then decided to delete those profiles. Recently I have reopened my profiles there but am not actively sharing content. Months ago I had a former blog on Tumblr that lasted for more than a year in which I shared a lot about myself and all that became the source of my book “Finding myself”. Unfortunately, I had to close it due to privacy concerns after my mobile phone was robbed. Now I have just built a new blog on Tumblr where you can find me @ tumblr.karen-lyra.com. I love to get in contact with people and make friends there so feel free to find me there!
If you are willing to know more about my book you can search for “Finding myself” by “Karen Lyra” on Amazon. If you decide to get it, I would love to get your feedback and exchange ideas!
Before we go, would you like to send a message to your fellow girls out there or a closing statement.
Life is a roller coaster and it is always challenging. We may not find ourselves where and how we would like to be or with all the people we want but I am sure that if we look carefully there are many blessings in our life that we can count. Be grateful for all that, love yourself and live to be proud of who you are and who you become, and always love and respect others for who they are. Thank you very much and I wish all the best to all of you!
Thanks Karen! We look forward to seeing what you do next! And to all our readers out there, make sure to check out Karen’s book, Finding Myself: Discovering My Gender Identity.. on Amazon.
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