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I’m sorry, I’m a mammal. There’s only so much to be done about that.


Here’s how I feel lately:

I need to get my teeth whitened. My hair needs to be dyed. Why are my boobs so big? I need to be stronger. I need to be thinner. I think my head is weirdly misshapen. The flesh around my bra straps is grossing me out. Why are my freckles so uneven? Do I need a spray tan for this wedding? I wish I had a proper lip line. I wish there was a way to get your legs waxed without having to grow your leg hair long enough for waxing. I wish the people who design clothes and the people who design bras would just get the fuck together and figure something out. My feet hurt in my shoes.

I’m tired of every single part of me needing to be changed to be acceptable. To be likeable. To be normal. It’s exhausting.

Recently, I was in a bar. A friend’s girlfriend was telling a story about the time she went six months without shaving her legs. The guys fell around laughing. “Gross,” they yelled, miming throwing up. “Ew!”

“Well,” the girl said, shrugging. “I wasn’t getting laid anyway, so I figured: who cares?”

“Of course you weren’t getting laid,” one of the guys hollered (disclaimer: one of my favourite people in the whole world, and in every other way the most tip-top human I know). “Who’d fuck that?”

You know what we hear when you say stuff like that, fellas? You know what you’re saying when you judge hippies with hairy pits or complain about leg stubble?

You’re saying, “In your natural state, you gross me out”.

The way you were born is not only not good enough, it’s repulsive.

You need to be different than you are to be likeable. To be attractive. To be anything other than revolting?

Really? Is that what we’ve come to?

I may be overreacting slightly, but I feel like there’s no longer any piece of me I can leave alone. Everything has been scrubbed and scented and de-haired and dyed and plucked and coloured in. And all you get at the end of that is to feel like maybe you’ve done enough to blend in for another day. To not creep anyone out with your warm-blooded body that makes sweat and grows hair and digests food. It’s not making me pretty – it’s just bringing me up to not gross.

That’s gross.

End rant.

Posted by

Writer of things. Annoyer of cats. Mother of very small dragons.

10 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. thank you for so eloquently wording something that my brain has silently screamed at men since puberty. you always were very good at doing that ❤


  2. 1) tmi, 2) If you don't do it for you why do it at all? – perhaps I'm missing the point.


  3. UGH. The 'why do it at all' is the point. Sure, I do a bunch of stuff because I like it – but the part that grates me is that I HAVE to do it to fit in to normal society.

    I can stop shaving my legs if I disagree with society's beauty ideal… but the majority of people are going to judge me negatively for it. If I wanted to date, I'd probably struggle to find dates. Not because I CHOSE to do something to myself that I found beautiful… but because I DIDN'T change myself.

    This idea that women aren't supposed to admit to farting or burping or having to use the bathroom, to sweating or growing hair on our bodies or even liking to eat… sometimes it feels like we're meant to feel ashamed of anything that identifies us as human beings. To a degree that holds true for everyone, but it's a whole lot easier for the dudes.


  4. You won’t remember the first time we met. It was at a bookstore on LQ you sold me a book and talked to me about Buffy; it made my day. What struck me was who you were, not how you chose to present yourself. My earlier comment was ill considered. I do understand what you are saying, but my perspective is different.

    We change our appearance and actions because of other people’s opinions. The opinions that affect us are the opinions of the people we respect or look up to. If you choose to respect or look up to the wrong people you could end up a hipster or worse. You have always been beautiful and now you are trendy as well. The best piece of graffiti in Wellington was the person who wrote “WELCOME TO THE MACHINE” in chalk on the entrance to the terrace tunnel.

    I don’t know you very well but I think you deserve to be more than just another cog in the machine.


  5. Okay, that's a much nicer comment. I know what you mean – and if I truly wanted to rage against the machine, I wouldn't chose to dye my hair or wear high heels or enjoy playing with makeup. I do make choices with all of it – but it feels like a DEGREE of choice. I think it's hard for women to truly have good (physical – I'm not touching on WHO someone is here at all, just how we're perceived physically) self-esteem when it seems like it's all based on things you add or remove, not how you actually are… and there's social stigma attached to “letting yourself go”.

    I spoke to a friend who's a mother about this, and she said it IS much easier once you get out of the corporate world and the bar scene and whatever whatever. And several people have confirmed that their husbands officially don't give a shit. Which is fantastic… but that's not the sandbox I'm playing in. And I don't mean socially – the people I choose to hang out with – but work, gym, places I go and people I see. You can opt out of that culture, but it takes more guts than I have, I guess. It just annoys me that it exists at all sometimes. But then, I also like shoes and makeup, so I'm busily perpetuating it all as I complain about it. So.


  6. 'why do it at all' – this ignores the point that whilst yes it's a woman's own decision to groom herself, the fact we end up wanting to do it in the first place is due to centuries of practised, bizarre behaviour to make oneself presentable.

    a woman may occasionally be lucky enough to come across the odd human being here or there who enjoys the feel of hair on a ladie's legs, doesn't mind seeing scruff when she raises her arms over her head and isn't bothered if her upper lip is a bit fluffy. but this historic feminine practise of cosmeticchange from our natural state is deeply embedded within and a vast majority of men, and women, are in agreement with it.

    thus i sit here, waving my fist about it… but i still book to have the hair ripped out of my skin every 5 weeks. because i want to feel and look better and embedded in my brain is the idea that being hairless “is” better.

    it is very trying.


  7. The sad truth is, not just men but other women treat us differently when we don't conform to those social norms. I don't wear makeup besides mascara to work for a while, and suddenly the day I do wear full makeup and have no regrowth, everyone is nice to me and pointing out how pretty I look and guys are flirting with me. Or maybe it all has something to do with “making an effort” and people like to see that you've made one, that you “care about yourself” before they start caring about you. Whatever. I think people (in my family mostly) are more concerned with the size of my body than if I'm happy and like my life, and that is a problem. And I don't think it's exclusive to my family. By the way, I haven't been bothered to shave my legs since my brothers wedding first week December. My legs are gross now but as your friend said, what does it matter!! And who is going to see them? It's not stopping me getting laid, it's the fact I don't want to get laid by a douchebag that's stopping me getting laid.


  8. As RuPaul said 'You were born naked, and the rest is a drag'. In our culture women are made to feel insecure about our natural state. Do you really 'suffer' from fine lines and crows feet, is there is a plague of 'unwanted hair', is having cellulite really a crime?? There is a multi billion dollar beauty industry and it is based on a pretty simple idea…..that the important thing about being female is looking good, and our natural state is not good.


  9. I love the content and tone of this post.
    I love the idea of being who you are and who you want to be. Nothing more or less.

    If the you that you want is heavily groomed then more power to you. If not, that’s cool too.

    Takes some power to actually be yourself. Something I tend to struggle with most days….but am determined to do it and compromise as little of myself in the process.


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