Unless you’ve been hiding in the deepest depths of the internet away from everybody else, minding your business buying human bones and watching decapitation videos, you’re aware that BBLs, lip-fillers and everything in-between have crept their way into the lives of normal folk. Normal women-folk, should I say, because it seems that men aren’t subject to the same pressure with regards to their physical appearance. Sure, there are men getting beard and hairline transplants… but that’s as far as common, invasive treatments for men go. I also don’t think there’s a desire for ‘mum-bods’ as there is for dad-bods, but alas.
Once upon a time, most of us could only sigh in amazement as we saw celebrities with chiselled faces and voluptuous bodies. Now, it’s within reach for a lot of us who are willing to make some sacrifices to the quality of our lives. It’s scarily accessible; women can now opt to purchase a body modification for less than the price of a car, depending on how reputable she wants to go and whether or not she wants to actually live to enjoy the fruits of a dodgy doctor’s labour – and I’m sure there are a lot of women who will happily ride a bike for a couple of years if it meant they had two brand new bum cheeks to show off. I remember a time where these new bodies were mocked; her lips look swollen! She looks like she needs her nappy changed! Why does she look like a man who can’t smile? Does this not firstly highlight how ever-changing these standards are? Only now it’s not about new makeup techniques – you’re changing your features and sometimes putting your life at risk.
On the other hand though, I notice I mentioned “sacrifices to the quality of our lives’, when the truth is a lot of women are doing it to improve the quality of their lives. Beauty standards are so ingrained into the minds of some people, to the detriment of their mental health, placing them into a perpetual state of anguish because they’re not as attractive as the girls whose pictures their man-who’s-not-their-man is liking on Instagram. “Improving” the quality of your life based on a fickle beauty standard that will change within a few years, when your implants have sagged, your lips deflated, your nose bridge collapsed is… risky. I’m all for improving your appearance if you want to and you have the means – but never if you don’t fully understand what you’re getting yourself into. I’m especially against anybody undergoing a procedure but claiming to be natural, particularly if you’re in a position of influence. Read more
I groaned as I saw someone pull up a stool in front of us.
We were sat in a corner of the Bulldog, smoking and talking about every single reason men were the certified worst, about past lovers, about the men who were currently on the shortlist, and men who were just booted off.
He was around five foot eight, with a small frame and a baby face, and he had come to join the boys in the far corner of the room. About eighteen years old, tops. A child.
‘Please don’t do this,’ I muttered under my breath, as she laughed and nudged me in the ribs. I was never good at this sort of thing, because I found it very acceptable to physically turn my head and ignore people I didn’t want to talk to; like a dog playing innocent after ripping apart your brand new goose-feather cushions. Apparently, though, that was rude. I still did it because I never cared, and she always dealt with them because she knew I would have happily just sat there in silence, making it awkward for everyone involved. I was immune to awkwardness, and silence was never a bad thing. I could ignore every problem that was right in front of me; she preferred to tackle it head on.
‘So, where are you from?’ he asked.
Some would say a broken heart fuels creativity; that’s why we write, paint and make music.
The pain and the hurt that translates into art feels good because we love ripping it out of us and pouring it onto a page. Sometimes the feeling transcends words, so we put it into metaphors and abstract oil paintings, and people lap it up because they love the feeling it gives them. Sometimes the art touches them in a way they can’t explain, simply because of that incomprehensibility.
They love to read about it, to watch it, to hear it. Driving home as the rain hits your window, pretending you’re in a music video whilst you listen to songs about cheaters and broken homes, songs about violence; it’s cathartic. Marvin’s Room makes your tears feel hotter, but you listen to it on repeat and God knows why.
I have a hunch.
Misery loves company, and nobody wants to know they’re the only one suffering. Maybe they want to know their feelings are valid and shared. Maybe they desperately want to see how much worse it could be. Maybe they like the idea of other people suffering because the feeling of bitterness is perversely satisfying. We like pain and we like to know that we aren’t the only ones in it. We all exist somewhere on this spectrum of sadomasochism.
The cheers, the whistling, the joyful jostling consumed the room as the clock struck midnight and we were pushed, suddenly and violently, into 2020.
People were hugging, kissing, drunkenly singing Auld Lang Syne, slurring ‘happy new year’ into the phone, to their families miles away. Or just down the road, having a quiet one. We made our annual vows to make this year better, messier, louder, than the one that had just passed us by. In a blink.
We vowed to live our lives to the fullest, to travel the world, to quit our jobs, to cut people off, to make more money, to find love, to achieve things we hadn’t achieved over the last 365 days. We vowed… that this would be the year. Women in bathrooms telling each other they were too beautiful to let that man into 2020; leave him behind, you’re stunning, he doesn’t deserve you. Take my number, we should all go out one night.
The atmosphere was all joy; vodka, rum and whiskey sending sentiments sky high.
By the end of the night, strangers were sitting knee-to-knee, having wide-eyed conversations as they took shots together. Tequila, to melt away old memories and make space for new ones. The room softened and lines blurred.
‘2020 will be our year.’
Okay. Hold tight, because we’re venturing into my favourite topic.
Who are we?
I do love a bit of psychoanalysis. It’s the question we will explore… forever.
It will never end, and we like to try and exhaust all avenues for as long as we live. There are questions we’ll ask ourselves for the rest of our lives; after all, what is there to do once we’ve found the answers? Self-sabotage, perhaps, so we can start again. Or, more sensibly, create more questions. Find more unexplored areas.
What is the meaning of life? What’s the recipe for success? What is true happiness? How do you heal from heartbreak and trauma? How do you know when it’s love? How do we even define all of these things?
I think most of the difficulty in answering these questions lies in a lack of awareness about the self.
Unless we really know who we are, we can’t truly know where we stand in relation to topics that require introspection and deep understanding of ourselves … and questions like the above do not have universal answers. There is no right or wrong. As the world evolves, the answers change. For some, success is living so comfortably that you never have to shop price low to high. For others, it’s being able to comfortably cry whilst staring into your lover’s eyes; it’s being unable to find the words to truly tell them how much you love them in that moment and that’s the only way your body will let you. And for a handful, it’s living carefree and alone in an art studio with a Wholefoods around the corner.
Our perception of love begins when we’re kids, only we don’t know it.
Love is normal, the standard against which we’ll later measure every act ever committed; anything anybody does is measured in terms of where it exists on the Love meter. If it makes you happy, it’s a 10. If it hurts, it’s a 1. Burning down trees and using products with palm oil is a lack of love for the Earth and orangutans. Giving to charity is empathy materialised, and empathy is a form of love. Not necessarily for the individual with whom you’re empathising, but a love and understanding for other human beings in general. Or maybe it’s simply a love for your religion; maybe even just no love for Hell.
This is how the meter works in theory, anyway. As you get older, it becomes a lot more complicated and it makes no sense when you love someone who makes you want to shoot your own brains out.