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CN: Discussion of eating disorders.
For the note this week, a raw reflection on beauty norms, resistances, & emotion, through the (my) ages:
I am obsessed with Drew Barrymore, Winona Ryder, Fiona Apple, and Marilyn Monroe. Clea Duvall in The Faculty, too. Also Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler in the Aerosmith videos. I want to wear dark eyeliner and dark lipstick. I love my Caboodle, I have so much fun painting my face in the mirror. I also hate myself, at least daily, for not being thinner or prettier. I want boys to like me, I can feel this becoming a goal more and more. I also want to be as pretty as Dominique, the hottest girl in the class, maybe have boobs as big as her. Dominique and I look nothing alike.
I decide that maybe it is okay that Dominique and I look nothing alike when I realize that what I’m drawn to is what people call alternative. I want dark lipstick and dark eyeliner because it looks like the way the music I love feels. As I move into high school, I notice that I start to dress and wear makeup for music more than for boys.
Still, I stick my finger down my throat multiple times a week. It seems clear I do this because I want to be thin, I want to attract boys, I want to look cute next to my girlfriends. Of course I would do this, right?
I have now been in love and had my heart broken and been in love again. I no longer feel like I have to do much, aesthetically, for boys, because it turns out love is a bigger thing, it’s a swallowing giant thing, no makeup or weight or clothes could compel what love is. Sure, now that I’m dressing like an emo/pop-punk girl, now that I have a tattoo, I catch the eyes of the kinds of boys with whom I am more likely to connect, but my “looks” feel less contingent. Or at least I no longer feel the immense pressure to do things to be desirable, because desire is present everywhere, suddenly. Not just because boys like me, but because I am also desiring: crushes, music, movies, and, importantly, after 9/11, radical activism. Now I am dressing for both punk and for the movement.
Still, I stick my finger down my throat multiple times a week. It is less clear for whom or why I do this.
I am in college, and oh fuck, I like girls now too. Do I have to dress differently to like girls? I think I do, and I bring a picture of 2004-era Tegan & Sara to Milio’s hair salon in Chicago, and I say, “Like this please.” When I go to the Coming Out Ball with my first lesbian date, I wear more makeup than I’ve ever worn before. Bright pink lipgloss to match the hot pink streak in their hair. Both of us in tons of eyeliner, and some glitter eyeshadow.
I scour thrift stores for the cutest vintage dresses, looking manic pixie twee girl most days, then shift sometimes into more punk looks with DIY tube tops made from band tees and black bandanas in my hair. I do this because it’s fun as fuck. (I do this because I am embodying femme, which I’ve obviously already written about. As I note in my book, my trashy, working-class roots influence this burgeoning just as much as the music and the queerness.)
I throw up, still, but a little less. I do it in absolute contrast to all my personal and political values.
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