Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Degrees of abnormality, or things that will probably make my daughters groan 'Oh Mum!'

Evidently I deviate from the female norm. Naturally as a person who has always felt resolutely and absolutely female, this suspicion, presently hardening into an unpleasant certainty, is rather distressing.

So how do I know I am abnormal? That is easy - a statistical analysis and comparison with the females in my family. Now admittedly, I am the oldest of those who have visited me recently, but after all, I had ferociously painful periods, have been married twice, had six pregnancies, have borne and breastfed three live children, and have had breast cancer. So you would think all these things would certainly make me qualify not only as female, but also feminine. What is more, I am adamantly feminist, and have been so since I was a tiny child, when I discovered that women were excluded from becoming members of the clergy, and that it was only the males who did all the magic bits. At the age of five I said 'That's not fair' and have never had cause to change that judgment.

It seems that there are distinguishing characteristics which I lack.To wit, and in random order:
  • I have never shaved my legs. The hairs on my legs are fair, not very many, soft and not at all obvious. When in my teens friends started shaving their legs I observed that the hairs grew back dark and thickly. I did not want that to happen to me, so refrained from shaving my legs. There has never been cause to regret this decision.
  • Nor have I had my eyebrows plucked or shaped. They seem perfectly ok to me. Perhaps I was just lucky. Yesterday I was astonished to discover that the daughter of my sister-in-law has opened an eyebrow shaping business and is making money from it. What is more, it seems that three of my sisters, and at least one daughter have their eyebrows shaped and eyelashes tinted.
  • I have never had a brazilian, or had my pubic hair removed, other than when I was giving birth, and perforce was shaved, for no good or adequate reason that I could see. I am horrified by the notion that any body hair, female or male, other than on the head, is totally disgusting.
  • I have never had a fake tan. My fair skin remains that way. Going orange does not appeal to me.
  • I do not teeter along in high heels. While in my giddy youth I did wear high heels they were much lower than is now considered fashionable. Years of discretion have taught me that they are bad for the feet, and unsafe at any speed.
  • I dress in clothes that do not show my underwear. Indeed, the very thought of my underwear showing is deeply distressing. I keep wanting to tap young things on the shoulder and to whisper discreetly ' Dear, your bra straps, panties, bum crack, or whatever, are showing'. Of course, I don't do this, but oh, I want to, so much.
  • My main form of entertainment is not reading about or watching celebrities. In fact, were I to be a contestant on Hot Seat (?), I would fail at any question relating to films, TV or pop music. (This is not necessarily something to skite about. It is more that my head has room for only so much.)
  • I have never had a tattoo.
  • My ears remain unpierced.
However. I do colour my hair, wear makeup, like clothes, read fiction by female authors, can cook, have meaningful interfaces with people, and growl savagely at sexism whenever I encounter it.

But evidently I fail abjectly and humiliatingly at both popular femininity and trendiness. I must be an object of scorn. There is no hope for me.

Women must spend pots of money on all these 'beautifying' treatments. It makes me wonder. Why?


Meggie said...

I loved reading this post. I am sorry to say I did pluck my eyebrows, & as a consequence they are too thin now. I try to warn my Granddaughter but it falls on deaf ears of course.
My ears are pierced, but I did not have so until I was in my 30s and against the wishes of Gom... perhaps that is why I did it!
I am so with you on the Ministers of religion thing. When I see the Pope tripping about in his slippers & gorgeous frocks/robes & silly hats, I silently shriek with laughter.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

With all the discussion lately about whether Jennifer Hawkins is a 'real' woman or not, I think it's safe to say that there's no female norm. Nonetheless, I do a lot of these things. I started shaving my legs and waxing my eyebrows in high school, and I use a lot more beauty products than most of my friends. These were things I started doing because I knew I wasn't pretty, but having my eyebrows waxed or my hair coloured made me feel better about my appearance for a while. It's really hard to escape the pressure to always look your best, and that horrid idea that women are for decoration only, but it's taken me quite a few years to figure out what actually makes me happy, and how I want myself to look. Kudos to you for knowing. I'm definitely with you on the high heels front. I can count on one hand the number of times I wore heels last year: 1.

Frogdancer said...

High heels and fake tans... crazy!

I loved reading this post!

molly said...

I only deviate from your list at the last item. I do have my ears pierced, though I seldom wear earrings! I think we're normal and the rest of 'em are nuts!

persiflage said...

Upon closer reflection of my past, I realise that I used to apply eyebrow pencil, and furthermore admit that I did consider having my ears pierced, and backed out at the last minute out of sheer cowardice. From then on I claimed that not buying earrings was one of my few thrifty practices. You can turn a lot of things into virtues!