Tag Archives: Childhood

Chapter Eight: Body Confidence and Me

Growing up, I had absolutely no issues with my image whatsoever; when my dad told me that Prince had written Most Beautiful Girl in the World about me, it was simply a given that he was absolutely and unwaveringly correct, so my incessant swaying whenever the song came on, purely made sense. I was thanking Prince through the method of sway-dance for writing a pretty accurate song about me. Every day, my parents would grab me in their arms, hug me and tell me that I was beautiful, something I accepted willingly – I guess I was really beautiful! I had no other means of comparing myself to anyone and I didn’t think of ever doing so and I don’t think that anyone ever compared themselves to me, it was just something that wasn’t done in the nineties, I guess; we spent more time playing games and deciding which Spice Girl we were, rather than worrying about who’s body was better than the rest. Truthfully, it took me a very, very long time to develop any form of body issues and think that it was my later teens that triggered the insecurities I cling onto now.

I was a teenager in the early 2000s and I’m not sure if something happened during this time that resulted in an entire generation of young girls suddenly loathing themselves, or if body confidence issues have been a popular bone of contention for every girl of every generation since the beginning and we were simply receiving the baton from those before us, but to me, it just feels like body confidence is a very modern issue affecting women these days and that my generation were truly the first to feel the bitter sting of self-doubt and loathing. I’m not sure about anyone else, but to me it felt like almost an immediate thing; one day I was simply me: a girl who wore clothes and did things with her time, wore shoes and sometimes wore a ponytail in her hair, and then all of a sudden, I felt that I was too tall, that my breasts were deformed; I felt dorky and plump, dreadfully awkward in my own too pale skin. I’m not sure where this idea came from, because I had gotten through the early part of my teenaged years quite easily and back then I had been covered in spots and my skin was greasier than a takeaway pizza, my limbs growing longer than the rest of me… I had no issues then. I still thought that I was simply a human, existing in society, maybe not the most beautiful girl in the world, because I found out that my dad liked to extend the truth a lot (like, who knew that dads didn’t give birth to boys?!), but I didn’t feel monumentally grotesque or anything else of the sort.

Growing up, role models were never really my thing and I never felt that I wanted to model my appearance on anyone in particular. There aren’t really many women from my childhood that I remember being obsessed with, other than potentially The Spice Girls as a collective and Ethel from The Worst Witch, who just so happens to play the bad witch making the protagonists life hell, but she wore really fierce boots and was top of her class at everything, a total teachers pet and I loved her. If you haven’t seen the film, you can find it all on Youtube and below is a picture of my favourite character from the movie:

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In spite of all this, I didn’t emulate anyone in particular and this adoration of Ethel the bitchy witch didn’t extend further than asking my mam if I could have boots like hers for school… And I did:

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The same could indeed be said of my earlier teenage years; most of my heroes were male musicians from the punk scene or in some cases, incredibly pale, long haired, piercy blue eyes Finnish metal gods. I did love the screen sirens of times foregone, such as Doris Day, but not in the sense that I looked at my body and thought that I needed to change it, or that it was inadequate in some way. I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment, but it began to fester within me, I guess, when I started watching The OC. At the time, I’m pretty certain it was a cultural phenomenon and everyone was affected by it and loved it; I was so in love with Seth Cohen that I genuinely typed, Curly haired Jewish boys in Newcastle, into Google and hoped I would find him staring back at me with comic book t-shirts and great taste in music. When Anna was introduced, she could have been, arguably, the first person I ever wanted to emulate as a teenager. She was so cool and adorable; I cut my hair off to look just like her and for the first time, I began reading comics and fell in love with Betty White. All I really managed to do was look like a pixie boy and prove to people that I was a weirdo obsessed with old people, but she still embodied a lot of the characteristics I recognised in myself as a teenager at the time; I was quirky and wise beyond my years, or at least I thought so and her wardrobe was enviable to the point I began dressing like her too, much to the chagrin of my poor mother who had no idea what the fuck I was trying to accomplish.

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For me, I think college was the first step towards me becoming the big ball of insecurity and anxiety I am today. When I started college, my parents offered to buy me new clothes and whilst I was incredibly grateful for their offer, I really regret the entire day, even now. It’s one of those memories that burns in my subconscious like a perpetual, horrific flame intent on ruining my life. You see, my dad insisted on coming with me that day and he hates shopping. My dad insisted on coming shopping with someone who loved the likes of Topshop and complained at everything in there. I can’t remember where I shopped in the end, but I dragged him around the shops for far too long, until he and my mam began to tell me what college was really like, so I had a better grasp on what kind of fashion ensembles to purchase. Turns out my parents were remembering their college years in the eighties as though they had gone to college in America in the sixties and what I ended buying made me look like the perpetually bare foot, long haired, bearded, hand-held drum playing marijuana expert; I was basically dressed in a Jesus t-shirt and khaki green combat trousers that my parents insisted were super-duper cool and that’s why they weren’t in Topshop, but at the back of a shop AND ON SALE. I also ended up buying a turquoise blue golf inspired jumper with other golf related colours on, which I wore ON TOP OF a shirt with FLARED jeans. I am so ashamed to admit that, until I started my first day of college, I thought I looked okay.

On my first day, the entire college was awash with really attractive, well dressed individuals. Women who looked as though they’d been up for hours perfecting their hair and picking out all the right accessories to go with their skinny jeans, heeled boots and cinched at the waist by massive belt style tops. I wore pink trainers with cherries on them, flares and the dork ensemble that made me look less like Anna from The OC and more like my parents had banished me from our Amish camp because they heard me listen to rock music one time. I was mortified. Even more so when I saw that there were people wearing the band t-shirts I so desperately wanted to wear, with skinny jeans, Converse and studs. I owned pink Converse! I could totally fit in! All day, I internally cursed my stupid parents for having such an influence over my fashion choices, because of their free admission that I had shit taste in clothes. Now, I realise that we were partaking in the eternal struggle between teenager and parent and that, for the first time in history, parents won and I allowed myself to be controlled by their ridiculously misplaced love. Arseholes!

Eventually, I found my own style and wore a lot of brightly coloured tank tops with t-shirts underneath, a lot of black and I eventually started buying my own accessories that made me look like I was trying to perform an African wedding ceremony on a daily basis, but it still makes me think back with abject horror at how bad I looked, but I still had no real issue with my body. Just my fashion choices… Sorry, MY PARENTS FASHION CHOICES. I then developed a distinctively 60s style, but a better one that seemed to be because of my burgeoning obsession with Ms Edie Sedgwick, out came the dramatic eyes and the big old earrings… Gone was the dorky girl who listened to her stupid parents!

The first time I ever felt horrible about how I looked, I was going into Newcastle for a night out with my sisters and one of my nurse friends. I was wearing grey shorts with black tights and a black top that fastened at the top of my neck, for some reason, with a black cardigan (I always wear cardigans!) my hair was tied up and my makeup consisted of the white eyeshadow with black eyeliner as I was going through my Edie Sedgwick phase and bright red lips. I remember standing in front of my mirror looking at my ‘then’ ridiculously flat stomach, before turning my attention to my round, seemingly pert derriere and thinking I’M A FUCKING WHALE I HATE MYSELF. I cried my make-up off and made it clear to my sister and mother that I didn’t want to go. Unfortunately, my sister really did want to go, so I had no choice. So along I went, in the clothes that I hated, my make-up reapplied and I sipped a few cocktails. Eventually, we decided to go dancing and went to a bar I haven’t been in since. On our way out, something hit me on the top of the head and when my sister turned around to see blood pouring down my face like I’d just stepped off the Carrie set, she began pushing and screaming to get me to safety. Someone had dropped a glass bottle on me from upstairs and burst my skull open, as far as I was aware. I knew I didn’t want to go out.

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Now, admittedly, when I don’t feel that I look okay and have anxious feelings about leaving the comfort of my home, I think back to that night and realise that it was karma. I did look fat, I did look hideous and I should never have left the house. A broken head was my punishment.

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Chapter Four: Becoming a Woman

If you didn’t read that in a calming, soothing voice akin to Counsellor Diana Troy’s voice from Star Trek: Next Generation, then you have failed me. Go back, read it again, and come back to me with a fresh perspective and better attitude towards the piece I’m about to write. Back? Okay, thanks for that. If you’re male and/or slightly squeamish and are reading this with increasing trepidation that I’m about to go into a Vagina Monologue style rant about my first period or the first time I touched myself, then don’t worry, because I probably won’t. But then again, I might do, because I’m cruel and also because I’m trying to practice literary improvisation.

A lot of the things I read online tell me that gender roles are established very early on in life, depending on what toys you play with, thus, modern parenting techniques advise that parents don’t force their kids to play with toys depending on what part of the toy store they’re in; let kids be kids and choose their own way in life is the mantra. Anyway, I never had that. I played with Barbies and dolls (well, I smacked their faces against walls) I played with prams (ran over bees with the wheels) and played with toy make up and jewellery, as well as girly arts and crafts – I never grew up feeling that my place as in the home or in the kitchen (unless the fridge was fully stocked) and I don’t hold any kind of resentment towards my parents now for me playing with gender specific toys. Granted, I had both of my parents telling me on the daily that I would be a smart, career driven, independent woman who would be able to drive, tell the time without getting confused when the afternoon rolled in and never forgetting which way is right and which way is left, meaning I would just point in directions and say ‘over there’ by the time I was twenty six. Parenting successful, you guys, you can retire now… Anyway, I never felt that my toys were a suggestion of my future to come, nor did I think they were sending me subliminal messages, telling me that I’d make a great home maker/mother/wife, because my parents screamed even louder in my face that I would be AMAZING and BRILLIANT and high fived me when I didn’t wet the bed… In a way, I’m pretty pissed off that my toys didn’t have more of an influence over the adult I’d become, because my favourite toy, Barbie, had an amazing life and other than the subsequent body/self esteem issues I’d undoubtedly acquire by being too influenced by the blonde babe I played with daily, I’d still have been pretty happy with the outcome.

My Barbie dolls were awesome and their lives were pretty sweet. They lived in a giant mansion, all together with their best friends and enemies alike and they’d go on all sorts of adventures and divorce and marry people within a week. Imagine that life? It’d be like Dyansty! More to the point, I’d have been married to a Ken doll and we would have been amazingly well dressed and matching at all times. He would have enormous pectoral muscles, which I don’t agree with, and a questionable crotch region, which I agree with even less, but with the wealth of Barbie and Ken and the abundance of available plastic in the world, we’d be able to sort that kind of thing out, no problem at all. Life would be sweet. I’d also have an entire wardrobe style house full of clothes and every single day would be my first day at a new job. It would be like that first scene in Clueless where Cher is sorting out her outfit du jour via her amazingly technologically advanced computer; the only difference being, that my outfit match would be what I’d be doing as a job that day. My work week may have even looked like this:

Monday: Palaeontologist
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Tuesday: Canadian Mountie
Wednesday: Yoga Teacher
Thursday: Surgeon
Friday: Ambassador for World Peace
Saturday: NASCAR Driver
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Sunday: Princess

I mean, that’s way better than any of your careers, right?

Unfortunately, my toys had very little influence over my life. Unless you count my Speak and Spell which taught me how to spell swear words correctly and maybe my doll pram for killing all of those bees.

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Do you remember watching ‘coming of age’ movies and TV episodes in the likes of Sister Sister, where they’d discuss womanhood like it was some kind of amazing journey we were about to go on, filled with love and romance and in the end, a tub of ice cream and laughs with our best friends for life humans? Then, as it got closer, all it really entailed was a lot of general hysteria at not only your perpetually changing body, but at the entire world around you for being so selfish by not realising your CONSTANT DAILY STRUGGLE WITH EXISTENCE!!! I was expecting magic carpet rides and new found responsibilities that had absolutely nothing to do with shaving my arms or legs, or being metaphorically thrust into the world with new squishy bags on my chest, thus suddenly agonisingly aware of my SELF and the perpetual gaze of the male ascending on me every time I chose to leave the house. It was awful.

Suffice it to say that I didn’t enjoy growing into a woman very much at all; I mean, I love it now, because I’m a woman and I firmly believe that is a great thing to be. I can’t think of anything that wields as much power as a woman’s vagina, except maybe her cleavage in a bar. Or more important things like what a woman has to go through to bring life into the world. There are some people who champion the sheer genius behind sperm and go into advance scientficit discussions about how far the sperm has to travel and out of the millions and millions THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE that assists in the creation of new life.

I’m not sure about you, but when I hear that, I’m sitting there metaphorically patting the head of which ever idiot has come out with that one, before retorting with what actual reproductive heroics actually entails. Firstly, women only have a certain amount of eggs and they start depleting from the moment we start our periods – did you guys know this?! – so when people start talking about biological clocks ticking, they don’t mean that one day you’ll wake up and have an overwhelming urge to reproduce and maybe, potentially steal a baby off the street, like I thought happened… Oh no: It means that you only have a certain amount and that the more periods you get, the more you lose them, because they just disappear. So if you only have like thirty eggs in your uterus and you’ve been a woman since you were like, eleven, then maybe you won’t have eggs in you at all and you’ll be BARRON. Which is really unfair when you think about it, like men can just wank incessantly on the daily for their entire lives and even when they’re like, ninety, they can still use that sperm to impregnate someone. I’m foaming I can’t do that with my vagina eggs.

I genuinely expected that becoming a woman would bring with it some kind of epiphany and that my entire life’s purpose would suddenly become abundantly clear, but other than the fact that I woke up in a pool of my own blood wishing I was born with a penis and that I could now house babies in my womb (ones that were grown there, not just put there as some kind of horrifically upsetting babysitting service) and that the concept of ‘babies raising babies’ suddenly became very clear to me, nothing else really changed. I still liked cartoons and I still believed in Santa Claus and cried when I didn’t get my own way. When I think about it now, I think of it in terms of history and how women throughout life were treated once they began menstruating, relief washing over me when I realised that upon having my period, my dad didn’t trade me in for a few goats to a middle aged man, I was lucky that my dowry remained very much non-existent. I was also lucky that my period coincided with the new millennium; otherwise I may have potentially been procreating for a well over a decade now and making food for a much older man, whose sweaty body had no concern for mine at all (what? The nineties were weird, man!). In a way, becoming a woman for me, meant staying a child, and I found that pretty awesome.

Me, on my 12th birthday, seducing babes, being a woman.

Me, on my 12th birthday, seducing babes, being a woman.

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Chapter Two – Family

Family:
Noun
A group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit.

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In short, you could say that my birth was a success. My parents wanted a baby and they received me, so I guess you could call that a success. Then again, unless my mother gave birth to a smart car and audibly wailed at the sight of my four wheels instead of human limbs, I guess their expectations were bound to be met… anyway, suffice it to say, I enjoyed being a baby as far as photographs can tell me, but then again, tiny humans lead the best lives ever and unless they’re hungry, or tired or have just defecated themselves, they pretty much live a really cool, non-stressful lifestyle, which I am sure all new mothers will attest to, quite happily. I was also a very cute baby, which I say without a degree of narcissism; I had those chunky big baby arms and legs that you can’t help but want to sink your teeth into and enormously round blue eyes that I still own now, funnily enough. The only thing, when I look back at photographs of myself as a baby, as something I really dislike is the fact that I had an absolutely enormous head. Now, I’ve been told that I have a really small head, but back then it was huge – I think I might have been born with an adult head instead of a baby head and my body has just grown round it, lest it grew further and I was bullied throughout life for not being able to fit through doors. Anyway, I was a pretty cute baby and generally not one of those babies that parents say are cute, but when you look at them and recoil in horror, guessing that this particular baby is a face only a mother could love – I was an all-round adorable winner.

In spite of all this, my parents decided to have another pop at procreation and whilst I guess it would have been fun for all involved to have a tiny human of a different gender, they lucked out and got another female human and that, my friends, is how my sister was born as far as I know. I guess because it wasn’t about me, I never took the time to ask. Other than hearing about my dad exclaiming ‘IT’S A BOY!’ only to be told by the nurses that no, sir, that’s just the umbilical cord, I don’t know anything else, and really, after that story, what else is there you need to know? We were introduced in the hospital where she was born. My grandparents led me into the room and I walked over to my mam, who was cradling the brand new, tiny human in her arms and my response was to walk away and run up and down the corridors for the remainder of the visit. I was no longer the medical marvel, or the centre of attention; there was a new adorable human in town. I think if I’d known I was going to be meeting my very first and very best life-long friend, I probably would have made more of an effort, but seriously, what do you want from me?  I was one!

My sister and I have always been close and I honestly do consider her to be one of the greatest humans who has ever graced the planet and what makes her even more amazing is the fact that she doesn’t even know. She’s a really slight, petite and thin human which makes the tall and naturally curvaceous with bits of padding here and there part of my personality want to stab her every time I see her. She has these enormous dark chocolate, almost black eyes, stupendously high cheek bones and everything about her is just perfect and small; she’s like a doll who has just stepped out of a children’s fairytale or a masterpiece of some sort. In my eyes, she’s perfect and her hair, her gloriously long, down to her waist; curly, shiny hair is the thing I most covet in life. If she wasn’t my sister I would hate her guts.

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In a pretty brilliant move, my parents nipped the ever popular concept of ‘sibling rivalry’ in the bud before it had time to grow and be nourished as our bitterness for each other grew and as a result, my friendship with my sister has been persistently rock solid for almost twenty five years. They instilled in us from a young age that when you had a sister, you always had a friend and part of me makes me think that my parents stole this from a sickly sweet sit-com they watched growing up, or they had some kind of cheesy parental handbook filled with corny one liners, but either way, it was pretty good advice, if not a bit vomit inducing for the non-saccharin amongst us. There was also another snippet of advice given from one of the parental units that has been said so many times, I can’t remember which one said it and the sentence I am about to write is paraphrased with some intense emotional intent for dramatic purposes, so just be warned, but anyway, either the man or the woman said: There is nothing in life more important than the four of us, whether you’re happy or sad, rich or poor, near or far, we will always be there for each other and there will always be a home for you with mam and dad. Which is pretty amazing advice, really. Or, depending on how you read it and if we’d decided to choose a life of crime, it could sound pretty much like a pact that is relatively tantamount to saying: If we get caught, murder suicide pact, who’s in?! But I don’t think my mother’s catholic roots would allow it. I joke, but it’s something that I genuinely wear as a badge of honour; there’s nothing more important in life than the closeness of one’s family!

Over the years we did some amazing stuff together and whilst we haven’t had a lifestyle that saw us travelling to certain places on the globe and we only really had three holidays abroad during childhood, we still managed to have an amazing life. My dad’s career took us to Holland for three years and my sister and I can speak fluent Dutch and played the national sport for our local village. I did end up getting bullied and hated my life for a while, but I try not to blame my dad for that, I tend now just to blame the entire country of Holland for a few shit kids instead! As a result, my sister and I didn’t suffer some kind of childhood traumatic event that affected us well into our adulthood, but when you’re writing about your childhood you’re supposed to write about something that could potentially be construed as poor parenting, so I guess I’ll try my best to conform:

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That’s a small me sitting on the sofa of our first family home. Don’t I look adorable drinking from my can of Stone’s lager? My mam is not a lager drinker, but my dad is, so it’s pretty clear to see that we can place the blame entirely on my dad and let him know that it’s his fault that I’m such an alcoholic now. Except that I don’t drink lager and I drink wine, but really it’s just lady beer, so he’s still in the wrong. I am sure that both of my parents would like me to tell you all that it was EMPTY when I put my face against it, but they were young and probably also liars, so I’ll just let you guys decide whether or not they inadvertently fed alcohol to their small human or not, were mortified, but not mortified enough to carry out a photo-shoot. This is what happens when you have kids in your twenties.

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One time I hurt my leg and had to wear a cast for weeks. It was an itchy, hot cast that I can’t really remember anyone asking to write on, which is pretty upsetting. It had a heel so that I didn’t walk with a limp and when the doctor said that I’d be okay to do all the things that I could do before I had my accident, like pour myself a glass of juice, I’d be fine and my parents weren’t to mollycoddle me. Which would have been fine if I’d ever poured myself a glass of juice in my life, so when I asked for one and my dad piped up with ‘Now, now, Doris, the doctor said you could pour your own drinks!’ and I spilled it all over the bench, we really have no one but him to blame there, really, do we? For shame, father. The reason I wore the cast, you ask? Well, I fell off an apparatus at school during PE, where I’d apparently told one of my classmates that I could fly and when he didn’t’ believe me, I thought I’d teach him a lesson in both listening and believing everything I said because I was superior. Turns out I couldn’t fly and was brandished a liar (probably) in the eyes of my infant school class. I think another lesson I could have probably learned here is not to lie to people and also that my parents shouldn’t have been so supportive of my creative mind or active imagination, because look what happened!

For Christmas, roughly twenty years ago, I received my very first PlayStation. I had no idea what it was. I can’t remember asking Santa Claus for it and I didn’t know what it did. Turns out that my dad knew how to work it just fine and I guess it was the ideal gift for a twenty four year old father of two, who knew?! I didn’t know how to play games such as Tomb Raider because I was six and it was scary, I mean there were WOLVES and a DINOSAUR, so my dad played on my behalf, which was really convenient and helpful. I mean, let’s forget the fact that the PlayStation turned out to be the greatest gift our family could have received, because we would all huddle around and watch my dad play games and just remember the fact that I didn’t ask for a PlayStation and also didn’t know how to play the PlayStation – that’s the most important part. Equally so, a few years later, I asked for an All Saints CD for Christmas and received a Dave Pearce remix thereof. There was only one person in our family who listened to Dave Pearce on Radio One after the chart show countdown on a Sunday and it certainly wasn’t me, my mam or my sister… the lesson that I’ve taken from these Christmas gifts is that you can’t always get what you want. In a lot of cases, you get what your dad wants and you just have to like it or lump it.

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Introduction: Confessions of a Twenty Something.

Writing about yourself is supposed to be a really difficult process, but because I am so inherently narcissistic, I found it quite easy. Also because I’m really smart.  It just goes to show that if you have a generally elevated sense of self-worth, you can accomplish pretty much anything and that it is, in fact, insecurity and a lack of faith in yourself that breeds misery and stunts any form of creative process and talents in the process… The Harlot!

In a far more realistic sense, it was actually pretty difficult and spending so much time planning pieces and not wanting to include things that would make family members disown me, it meant that I spent a long time pensively staring into the distance, wondering if I could feasibly lie throughout the whole biographical process and get away with it. Turns out that I can, which is very pleasing (not really). I had many working titles for this series of posts. One title, which I wrote about pretty much at the start of my blogging journey, when I decided that I would one day write a biographical piece that would sell millions and make me rich beyond my wildest nightmares would be: The History of Dildos: Confessions of a Wine Addict, because I thought it was a really great, historical play on words – like, some people would think that I would be discussing dildos at some point (which, let’s face it, is always a possibility) and others would think that ‘dildo’ is actually a metaphor for me as a person, which is far more correct and if you guessed that you’re probably really smart and/or went to university. I also thought about the title Be Mediocre! Because I was reading Hadley Freeman’s Be Awesome at the time and thought I was burgeoning on being a comedic genius. I finally settled on Mad About the Brain: My Journey from There to Here because it has multiple meanings (again, I’m really showing off my mad skills, here): Mostly I’m talking about the things that go on in my brain and how life has shaped me and made me the adult I am today, but, also, because my nickname for the love of my life, male human shape I adore, is Brain and it was conceived when I first met him following the little avatar he uses at work to chat to people and because, if you choose to read further (which you might not) there are certain life events that took place that, I feel, wouldn’t have made me as available, I guess, to fall in love with Brain as quickly as I did, so I guess there’s always that. I’m sickening, I know.

There will also be helpful tips and anecdotes throughout the series so that you can feel inspired by the inner workings of my mind and revere me as some kind of Geordie Goddess (move over, Cheryl!) it will, also, hopefully try to conclude in a manner that is far more successful than the current conclusion you’re reading (see, you didn’t even know, did you?) and maybe inform you all what I think that I’ve learned in my twenty six years on earth. If you’ve read my Series of Lamentations which was a half-hearted attempt before I got bored and decided to do this, then you’ll know what I’m hoping to achieve (and if you do please tell me, because I have no idea).

I hope you enjoy it, if you get through to the end, let me know and I’ll buy you a congratulatory beer. Thank you in advance. Doris xx

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A Series of Lamentations: Self-Love and Being a Woman

If you are here because you read the title and thought that I was going to embark on an intricate journey of self-discovery and ultimately, public discussion of an internalised regret at having spent the majority of my twenties attempting to perfect my masturbatory habits, then you are, unfortunately, very much mistaken. If you are here for anything that may potentially resemble masturbation, or the desire to read one girl’s tale of sexual awakening, then you should leave, right now. This is a series of lamentations and I, admittedly, have nothing to lament about regarding that particular element of self-love: I’m awesome and I get shit DONE. No, this is a little bit of an insight into the life of someone who was given all of the opportunities to become a self-involved, worshipper of one’s self, but someone who, through life experiences, hasn’t taken those steps and has suffered exponentially as a result.

There is no real method of denial for anyone to exercise when I say that, as a woman, we are not taught to love ourselves at all. From the moment we are catapulted from the warm bosom of childhood into the cruel and harsh world of puberty, with tiny lumps growing out of our previously flat chests and hair where we never thought hair would grow (which we are then immediately taught to shave, wax or make deals with the devil to keep it off, right there and then), and blood torturing our crotches on a monthly basis, all in the name of eventual reproduction, (because, there’s not even a choice in the matter, we all just have to suffer regardless of what our life choices end up being. Lesbian? I don’t care, PERIOD. Double period, because you may eventually live with a woman and you’ll have them at the same time and not only will your crotch be bleeding, but you’ll be attempting valiantly not to enter into some kind of Hunger Games style lifestyle for the entirety of your period which only lasts about seven days, but seems to last lifetimes in your pants. I mean, we never even got the opportunity to ask Mother Nature about periods, you know? Like, I would have appreciated sitting down with her and being like ‘so, here’s the situation – I’m eleven and I’m not really sure where my life is going to take me, I might not want children in the future, they are small and the idea of housing a tiny human in my uterus for nine months seems an unnecessary downfall of my gender, especially seen as how I will then have to shove it out of a hole that doesn’t look big enough to push a giant head out of and I am sure older me would agree, that I could probably not fit a giant head IN there, so where’s the logic, sister? WHERE?’), we have had no real control over our bodies or states of mind; it has all been done for us via the over-arching glue of the media – keeping women in a state of perpetual self-doubt since its inception. YAY!

Admittedly, growing up, I was given all the fodder to potentially become someone who promoted love of herself in every possible form; my parents were my perpetual cheerleaders and there wasn’t a concept of ‘no’ or ‘this isn’t possible’ within our family. My sister decided when she was little she wanted to learn origami, leaned towards my mother one lunch time and stated, “I want to learn pornography!” and kudos to my mother, she didn’t say that she couldn’t, only asked where she’d learned such a grown up word. The only time I ever really heard ‘no’ was when I decided I wanted to be a pop star and actress, but that’s something I’ve covered and generally have come to terms with (weeps). It wasn’t until we became teenagers and allowed external factors to govern our opinions of ourselves, did our family dynamic really change. Whilst we were never told that we couldn’t do something, I remember our parents’ perception of what others thought of us was greater than it had been before, which I blame entirely on the fact that my parents were raising two females of a very similar age – if my parents had sons, there wouldn’t have been any issues over what they were wearing, or who they were hanging out with. The general adage, boys will be boys would have meant that any sons of my parents wouldn’t have hit the barriers my sister and I did when we were teenagers. I guess it’s the same notion as society teaching girls how not to get sexually assaulted, rather than teaching boys not to sexually assault; my parents taught us how to adhere to gender stereotypes and behave in a manner that one would deem as ladylike, thus hoping to potentially decrease the potential of anything terrible happening to us, so I totally get it and I’m not trying to say that my parents did anything wrong at all – because they didn’t and I thank them every day for giving me the best life I could have wished for – but, their actions were only symptomatic of the society we were all born into: That women need to behave in a certain way in order to ascertain their true meanings in life… marriage and babies. And that is pushed onto us as much as it possibly can as soon as puberty rears its bitch of a head; we need to find a man and keep him in order for us to fulfil our biological duty. They were taught by society and the media on how to appropriately parent as much as we’re taught how to dress and how to truly satisfy our man in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Granted, my sister and I never bought into any of that shit. I decided that I wouldn’t rush the marriage and baby thing, because there is SO much do in life before I have to settle down and have kids and whilst there is always the tick tock of my biological clock, that the media is always telling me to listen to, it’s not something that bothers me. My sister decided straight up NO WAY I AM NOT HAVING KIDS I HATE THEM THEY ARE SO SMALL AND NEEDY I JUST DON’T WANT THEM and has only in the past year or so slightly changed her mind (as long as she never has girls) because she fell in love, but before that we all pictured her as some kind of spinster, living somewhere covered in televisions, game consoles and random Legend of Zelda merchandise. She would be the auntie to my children and they’d be the only kids she ever liked, but they’d be scared of her because she is a little foreboding. But, I was still the weaker one of the two and fell victim to a lot of aggression because of my independent nature… so much so that I entirely changed for a long period of time.

I’m not going to go into that element of my life in too much detail, but I did get to the point where I genuinely thought I was deserving of all the aggression, of all the ‘why aren’t you pregnant, what is wrong with you’ type conversations and a lifestyle that really didn’t cater to my needs or desires at all – my passion for writing was non-existent, because it wasn’t supported, I couldn’t even watch what I wanted to on television and my happiness hinged on the happiness of another woman; if she wasn’t happy, or if she decided I was in her bad books, then my boyfriend would act accordingly and it was usually to the detriment of my state of mind, my happiness and my emotional well-being. So, this is what I lament most out of all of my series of lamentations; I grieve for the woman who was given every opportunity in life; who did so well at school, college and university and could have explored the world, but instead ended up in a relationship that she wasn’t enjoying as it was happening, forced into being with someone who put her down at every opportunity, who’s opinion of women was so fucked up because he was raised by someone who kept him sucking at the teat of motherhood well into his adult life and who’s only real goal in life was to get to the pub; he was raised to be a misogynist and any woman who exercised any form of opinion that differed from mammy dearest’s, was punished. It was your typical, run of the mill, Norman Bates style relationship between mammy dearest and her little boy. In hindsight, I was clearly a mentalist and I am genuinely ashamed to have been a part of that misogynistic lifestyle that allowed me to become stuck and think that there was something wrong with me for not wanting to have his babies at the age of twenty one (or, ever, just to be clear).

I have learned some valuable lessons from this relationship, though and have since become a self-sufficient, adult woman who has learned from those mistakes and become someone who is pursuing her passions and living a life that I choose to lead. I have a boyfriend who isn’t necessarily a feminist, but someone who believes my passions and interests are just as important as his own and deserving of pursuing, so I get to write in abundance and be in a relationship where I’m not pressured to be anything other than myself. And that’s definitely something worth celebrating and definitely something I intend to keep up in my late twenties, because what is the point in a series of lamentations, without attempting to either celebrate my future, or make plans involving handsome beards?

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