It’s ten to one in the afternoon, I haven’t left the house apart from to hang up the washing in the garden and already I’ve been given six cues to not like myself very much.
When I checked Twitter this morning I had four new followers and six of my tweets had been favourited overnight. Yay x 10! Except no. Three of the new followers were accounts with timelines full of before and after pictures of women who’d used anti-ageing treatments. Three of the favourite clickers were similar accounts and another was a diet zealot with a bio urging me to get the secret now about how I too could have a body I could love.
The assumption being with all of this cack is that I don’t like myself.
It’s assumed I don’t like my skin. It’s assumed I don’t like my face. It’s assumed I don’t like my weight. Ergo, it’s assumed I pretty much don’t like me.
It’s also assumed that we can just ignore this kind of shit and pretend it doesn’t get in by osmosis. And yet…. it does get in. Because we’re conditioned to let it in.
I block them all but, dammit, it’s already slightly too late. Their messages shout cheeky one liners from the back of my brain. They’ve got into the bit where all the messages I’ve seen that tell me not to like myself exist despite the fact I regularly go back there and bludgeon them. What can I say? They’re persistent because they’re omnipresently backed up.
All those billboards, all those ads in expensive magazines where a woman sits wearing two grand worth of clothes, airbrushed to buggery and firmly artistically directed not to smile. Having it all means looking like someone just pissed on your dinner – right? Wasn’t that the message I was supposed to receive? Whatevs. The only thing we can be sure about is that even having it all doesn’t bring happiness and as women we’re supposed to stay thick enough not to notice that (and keep flicking our cash at the naked emperor).
Then there are the TV ads. The ones that make you want to gouge your eyes out because they make you realise that if these ads still exist too many people on the planet think women are just naturally better at cleaning and baby-care than men and men are much better at doing flipcharts and power enhancing worky things. Duh!
So I’m clearing what messages I can and turning on a different kind of TV. This time I’m going for Tunnel Vision. I will sing out loud when I come across women-hating Twitter accounts and have to spend three seconds blocking them. It’s really hard to take in subliminal messaging when you’re singing Boy in the Bubble from Paul Simon at the top of your lungs. I’ll keep treating misogynistically coded billboards and perfume ads as if they are shite-coated scorpions rising up in front of me; the only appropriate response being to scream and run or karate chop and spit F words. I’ll keep watching Netflix instead of normal TV because life without the ads and the pop viewing bullshit is like gifting yourself two entirely new brain lobes. I’ll hunt out the reality that chimes with me instead – stories that tell tales about women knowing their explosive worth and men who need more than a Playboy jumpstart to get turned on. I’ll keep engaging in stuff that advances arguments littered with intelligence and creativity. When the shitty parade of society rolls up in front of me to reinforce patriarchal messages I’ll turn the music up and show it my (gyrating, non-aspirational) ass.
In a hilarious act of radical defiance that’ll make men and women everywhere roll their eyes and wish I’d just get over it, I’ll continue to have the audacity to like myself.
n.b; I was going to link to Paul Simon’s Boy in the Bubble video on YouTube here but sadly it would’ve meant subjecting you to an ad from Febreze featuring two women (and zero men) dancing joyfully around a perfect light and child filled home, generally having a marvelous, life-fulfilling time of cleaning. Obviously I can’t be complicit in that kind of shite so here’s a subversive thrill from Malala Yousafzai instead. I’m sure you have your own soundtrack that makes you feel great to accompany her, if needs be.