Today, I left the house for the first time in a long time with no makeup on. I have always painted my face before I left the house, and thanks to Florence Given’s book ‘women don’t owe you pretty’, I realised I was doing it because it’s the easy thing to do. It’s easier to gain approval if you have ‘dolled yourself up’ and in my experience it has made life a lot simpler. No ‘you look ill’ comments when actually, Michael, this is just my natural grey skin colour. A big fuck you to society for teaching me these things when I was growing up, from telling me I should wear foundation to cover my spots because they’re ‘too red’ to making my eyelashes touch my eyebrows to give me ‘blowjob eyes’. What the fuck are blowjob eyes.
This book took me on a journey through my life and made me realise what had been driven into my mind and what my real beliefs are. ‘You are the love of your own life’’ sent my head spiralling with thoughts, I have spent over 50% of my life hating the way I look because my fat sits differently to other people. How can you love your life if you don’t love the vessel that’s carrying you through it? She explains in her book that we are constantly in competition with other women and we criticise them to make us feel better, and I have never heard anything more unsettlingly true. I have been in friendship groups where our whole conversation has been based around other women’s flaws, when in reality we were all just trying to distract ourselves from our own flaws. We have to train ourselves to not put other women down just because it helps us justify our own flaws, it’s a very unhealthy habit that damages not just other people, but ourselves in the process.
‘Maybe it’s a girl crush, maybe you’re queer’. This chapter spoke to me so much. I grew up not understanding my sexuality and I constantly flipped from being bisexual to straight to lesbian, it took me a really long time to come to terms with who I am. I grew up with my friendship group calling me ‘fake gay’, maybe because I had never been with a woman or maybe because they just didn’t believe I was sexually attracted to women. They don’t know the damage it caused, but it affected me a lot and it’s an example I will take with me everywhere because things like this can weigh down someone for the rest of their life. I once had a boy say to me ‘why is every girl bisexual these days?’, I think you answered your own question on this one mate. Sexuality is a spectrum, it doesn’t matter if you realise your sexuality at 5, 18, 45 or 80, your sexual identity is valid in all situations. Do not worry if you have not found your place yet, the people who care about putting a label on it are people who don’t deserve to be in your life.
I spent a while thinking about times I had been slut shamed by both men and women and the words men had said to me that I stupidly let impact my life. I had someone comment on my sex life by saying ‘at least I didn’t sleep with my boyfriend after two weeks of being with him’, to which I say it’s completely up to you whenever you choose to have sex with your partner. To me, sex isn’t a tabboo topic and I am very open about it now, so I can happily say I am comfortable with how long I wait before having sex. I had one boy say to me ‘you’re not the type of girl I wouldn’t wear a condom with, the amount of sex you have is disgusting’. Ladies, just because you like having sex with lots of people doesn’t mean you’re unsanitary or have an abnormal amount of STD’s going on. Be safe and use protection but if you ever have a man slut shame you, please have the confidence I did not have and walk the fuck away.
‘I’ve slept with girls skinnier than you’. This is the biggest fuck you I will ever give. I believe this is what kick started my eating disorder, which I’m not comfortable enough to go into too much detail about but with the little amount of people who will probably read this, I am happy to disclose I am currently in recovery. I was not in the mental state to hear this, and I believe most women who hear this would also feel the same. Your value does not go up as the number on the scale goes down. Fuck any man who has ever made a comment on your weight, actually no, fuck any person at all who has ever made a comment on your weight. Fuck wrapping your fingers around your wrist as a test to see if your arms are skinnier and definitely fuck this culture we have created that to be ‘desirable’ to men we have to have unrealistic disproportionate bodies that some people spend their lives trying to attain. Wake up every morning and tell yourself you are enough and anyone who can’t see that can go fuck themselves, because you are enough.
Start seeing yourself as the absolute fucking goddess you are and start having them difficult conversations with people to strengthen your relationship with them rather than letting it go because it’s the simple thing to do. You deserve to have people in your life who value you for your mind and the way you treat them. This book has taught me everything from learning to love who I am, checking the privilege that I have in society, holding myself accountable in situations and realising what I want out of my relationships. Most importantly it has taught me that, as much as sometimes I might not want to be, I am with myself forever. This is the only body and mind I have, and I want to spend my life loving the body I am in and using my mind to improve myself. So, yeah, please go buy this book and hopefully take the same journey I did.