THIS IS AN UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION

When I was a teenager my mother hung a picture of a swimsuit model on the fridge. She said she loved the swimsuit and she wanted to buy something similar but she also wanted to look as good as the lady in the picture.

I felt like she was watching me from her place there on our refrigerator, judging me when I opened the fridge door to get a Diet Coke, glaring down at me from her pedestal while I opened my Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls.

So one night, in a midnight snack-fueled fit of rage, I took a Sharpie to the picture and wrote: THIS IS AN UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION! YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL THE WAY YOU ARE!

The next day my stepdad reprimanded me and told me I had made my mother cry; she had just loved the swimsuit and wanted something to picture herself in. She wanted to picture herself as happy and satisfied as the model looked on that glossy page.

Mixed feelings from that experience still linger, even so many years later.

 

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YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO CHANGE ANYTHING

“It’s not my job to look beautiful for a man. Or anyone else for that matter.”

“Yes it is,” said my mother.

“No. My job is [redacted for the sake of anonymity]. I don’t get paid to look pretty and frankly, if someone is going to offer me a job based on how I look rather than my qualifications, I don’t really want it.”

“That’s just the way the world works, H,” said my mother.

“Well it’s not the way it should work. Don’t you want me to try to change it?”

“You’re not gonna change anything,” said my mother.

“People have been trying to change things since I was your age and they haven’t made any difference yet,” said my mother.

“It’s just the way it is. Nothing will ever change,” said my mother.

And this is the moment I realised … my mother is not a feminist. My mother was in her prime in the American Golden Age of misogyny (have we left that age?) when it was perfectly acceptable for a woman to get an entry-level job because she had cleavage, big hair, and perfect lipstick. She is a product of her time. What stuns me is her apparent disinterest in seeing the way of the world changed for her only daughter. Was she really happy with the way she got to where she is? She openly admits that she uses her ‘feminine charms’ on a daily basis to manipulate people into doing what she wants or needs them to do. I’m not talking about persuading people to kill someone or anything like that, nothing serious, but you know. Still.

When I was growing up my mother waxed poetic about the glory days when she was thin and beautiful and had the world in her hand. She recounted Gatsby-esque tales of her first husband’s extravagant parties — she described him as ‘a man who just truly loved women’ and told me that one day when I was older I would understand what that meant. (I don’t.) She tittered and chirped about growing marijuana plants in the tomato beds for him, but no she never used it, not even once. She fondly remembered the day she met my father, her second husband, at one such wild party. She and her first husband had an ‘arrangement’. It did not occur to me until many years later … was my mom a swinger? Was my mom a submissive? How could this woman who never so much as said the word ‘hell’ have led this entire other mystery life that played cinematic and glamorous in my imagination? And to come back to my more recent thoughts, was she really okay with all of that?

Once upon a time I thought my mother’s advice was golden, spilling from her perfectly pink lips like pearls and jewels that I would treasure forever. Now I think back on it, most of what my mom told me when I was a kid was bullshit. Bullshit that certainly didn’t come from her, though she may think it did, but from a society that has endlessly sought to keep women in a weaker position than men. Here are a few of the gems I remember from my childhood.

“H, when you meet the man of your dreams, you can get him. You just have to know what to do! Learn what he likes and play your cards right. If he likes tennis, learn about tennis and ask him to teach you how to play. Men are easy to understand. If you know which buttons to push, you can make them do whatever you want.”

“H, when you get married, there’s only one way you can stop your husband from ever leaving you. Every morning, wake up before him, have your shower, do your hair and your makeup and put on your clothes, and then make him a cup of coffee. That way, the first thing he sees when you looking great and ready with his coffee. Then at night, when you’re going to bed, always look nice. Don’t wash your face too hard and always use a moisturizer so when he kisses you goodnight your face is soft and it’ll be the last thing he thinks about before he falls asleep.”

“Stop picking your fingernails! Men prefer women with beautiful hands!”

Time and time again I tell my mother, I’m not interested in living my life the way she lived hers. Don’t get me wrong. My mother is my best friend. I share everything with her. But the more I reflect on my formative years, the more I wish she had talked less about the importance of appearance and more about the importance of following my heart, achieving my goals, finding my happiness.

So I’m gonna continue to pick my fingernails because, honestly, I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about the state of my hands. And I’m gonna keep cursing like a sailor because, again, zero fucks. Tell me all you want that it’s ‘unladylike’ … I can’t bring myself to care and I honestly hope to God that I never do.

Follow me for more thoughts about stuff!

H.

xx

IT TAKES A GREAT DEAL OF BRAVERY

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” -Albus Dumbledore

So as you can see in my description, this is a blog written by a 24-year-old American girl-woman living in Dublin, Ireland. I’m choosing to keep this anonymous (for now) mostly to protect the people who might get mentioned in my posts, but also because, it doesn’t really matter who I am. Maybe you know me, maybe you don’t. I don’t care either way. What matters to me is just that you’re reading and maybe you’re thinking as a result. Like, on a slightly deeper level maybe.

Let’s start with the use of the term ‘girl-woman’. Man-child has become a widespread term to describe a male-identifying human of a certain age (let’s say 28+) who behaves like or shares qualities with a child. For example, when a 34-year old man, who has long since moved away from home and learned how to cook spaghetti on his own, blocks a girl from all social media and web-based communication platforms because they had an argument. One might consider this specimen a ‘man-child’.

But there’s no comparable term for women, and I think that’s because there’s this expectation for females to immediately become responsible and mature the minute they grow into their tits; and when they behave otherwise it’s often glamorized and seen as ‘endearing’ and ‘quirky’. And I think this is unfair. I’ve long since grown into my late-blooming boobies, I have a Master’s of Fine Arts, I can bake a damn good cake, but do I consider myself a full-blown adult? Hell. No.

So, I present to you, the girl-woman, the feminine linguistic equivalent of a man-child. The difference is that although the term girl-woman will sometimes implicate childishness or immaturity, it won’t always. It will more often signify the idea of a female-identifying human who is somewhere between childhood and adulthood, some days closer to adulthood and some days closer to childhood. In the sage words of Britney Spears, ‘I’m not a girl, yet not a woman.’ Hence. Girl-woman.

So I’m not gonna delve too deep because this is my first post and tbh I really want to go eat some creme-filled wafer cookies (biscuits? my lexis is changing. please halp.) and maybe make myself a drink. But here’s what you can expect from this blog:

Posts.

About stuff.

Maybe some of it will be affecting, maybe some of it will be ridiculous, I dunno. I’m just, like, having a lot of thoughts these days and I gotta share them with someone. So please enjoy (or don’t, it makes literally no difference to me)!

H.

xx