Laying Bare

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Words: Anonymous

I’m staring at myself in the mirror when the sales associate walks in. She looks at my boobs and says ‘Yeah, I’d say you’re a 38B’. What the hell even is a 38B, who even is a 38B? What kind of fat cow am I, as a 38B? Nevertheless, I buy the stupid bra and walk out. Then, when I get home, I wear it and glare at my reflection for several hours before I decide that this bra and I are not destined to be together. Sorry, bra. I bought it for the Bumble date I had scheduled but having not been laid since my last relationship (6 months, shut up) I’ve lost touch with the dating etiquette now. Am I supposed to sleep with this man? Am I even allowed to? 

I’m scrolling through his profile now, wondering whether I’m even into this guy. He’s got several photos with a big beaming smile, and then a couple with fish – I feel like somehow that cancels out. And then, 2 days later, when I’m finally on the date and it’s that awkward, can’t-stop-picking-at-my-nails kind of silence, I wonder what Ms Ann Summers herself would do. I literally can’t take my eyes off him – but not in a good way. I’m analysing the way he’s eating his food; it’s creeping me out how he mixes everything together and then slurps it off his spoon like some kind of forbidden soup. And it’s at the end of the date that I realise my efforts were in vain – he asks to split the bill politely and then we part ways at the restaurant door. I spent 40 fucking British pound on getting waxed from my double chin to cankles only for a weird side hug and an upset stomach? Yeah, I’m not doing this again. 

I don’t want to be that person, the one who’s only looking for a good time, but nowadays I’m not really sure what I’m even supposed to be looking for. Sure, I could put ‘Looking for a relationship’ on my profile, but then I miss out on the non-committal, I-can-change-him kind of situationship that all 20-somethings love spending weeks stressing over. Or if I put ‘Something Casual’, I come across as a crass, cold-hearted bitch that’s only looking for pleasure. I spend so much time worrying about what these people think of me and how I come across, that I miss out on the fun of the actual date. 

It’s not just dating I have this “early mid-life crisis” struggle with either. It’s everything.

How many times have I painstakingly taken that dreaded everything-shower – shaving every inch of my body to make sure I appease the male gaze? And how many times have I done my makeup in a way that doesn’t even look like me anymore? Let alone changing my style every two weeks so that I look interesting enough on the outside, hoping to lure somebody in long enough to realise what an amazing personality I have. I’m so focused on making myself stand out from the crowd and making sure I’m not overshadowed when frankly it doesn’t matter. Because, in the grand scheme of things, nobody is truly unique and every meaningful conversation that I’ve had in my lifetime has been repeated again by hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. And I’ve realised that whenever I go to pick up that statement piece, am I doing it for myself, or for the people around me? Am I wearing this huge ugly vintage opal necklace because I actually like it, or because I know that the next Depop girly walking down the street will compliment me and ask me where it’s from?

Since coming to university, I’ve totally forgotten who I am and who I want to be. I’ve forgotten the type of people I like to hang out with and the people that I like to have relationships with. I’m not this vain girl who only thinks of how others perceive me, but in this weird “uni bubble”, where I’m surrounded by so many people with so many different styles and aesthetics and friendship groups, it’s easy to forget the person I used to be before media and micro trends took over. I’m nothing special, unique, or even necessarily interesting, but I love the person I really am, though she’s so different to the person who I’ve advertised to past and present flings. 

In reality, I’m the 20-something who loves eating Lidl frozen pizza on Saturdays while watching reruns of Miranda on BBC iPlayer without a TV licence. I love making silly little scrapbooks and attempting crocheting even though I suck at it. I love spending a stupidly long amount of time in the shower until my flatmates bang at the door in desperation for a piss. It’s only over Christmas that I’ve realised my favourite thing to do is spend time by myself and anybody who I see casually or even begin a relationship with needs to increase my enjoyment, not stress me out. And whether or not that happens through a dating app, at a gig, or a bar – being unapologetically my awkward not-sure-what-do-to self is the only thing I can truly be, as cringey as that sounds.

So next time I walk into Ann Summers, I’m choosing a bra that I like and a bra that I’ll wear simply for myself. And no, I will not be spending £40 on a wax again. 

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