the interrupted text

Cornmarket Street, Oxford, UK  - photo by andreisss
Source: andreisss

I was reading Captain Awkward a couple of days ago, and nodding along sympathetically with this post and 500+ comments relating similar stories. While many of the situations sounded familiar, I remember feeling glad that I had not had an unpleasantly forced encounter with a strange man in a long time.

And so, as punishment, the universe smacked me in the head with a textbook case.

I am walking in a busy shopping area and I want to send a text message. Because I am physically incapable of walking and texting on a crowded street, I move away from the general fray and stand by some railings where I am not obstructing anyone. After a few moments I realise there is a guy standing a few feet away, staring at me. I keep my eyes locked on my phone.

“Hard day?” he says.

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Today, I had a mission. That mission was “Go to town, purchase two pairs of black leggings.”

Leggings are my religion, but good jeans are good.
Leggings are my religion, but good jeans are good.

As a teenager, fitting rooms were an intensely stressful experience for me. Things that were not confidence-boosters include: unforgiving bright lights, mirrors angled so you can see your whole butt at once and things that won’t button or zip even though they claim to be in your size. I rarely buy clothes these days, but historically I often gave up around the fitting room stage of the experience, purely because I felt so miserable about my body.

As well as my urgently-needed leggings, I picked up a few tops and also found an incredibly rare pair of jeans – 28-inch leg and 30-inch waist is like the Holy Grail when you have roughly the same proportions as a hobbit – that were 50% off. So I had no real choice but to try that shit on.

And in the fitting room, I stripped down to my underwear and took a good long look at myself.

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that girl

So here is a thing.

This is a picture of me being a modern young lady by drinking wine on a vintage exercise bike.
This is a picture of me being a modern young lady by drinking wine on a vintage exercise bike.

I am a modern young woman. I think. I am practical. I pick most of my clothes based on how easily I can move in them, which has gradually devolved into never wearing pants. (Ever. Seriously, leggings and ambiguous long top/dresses forever.) I put my money where my mouth is when it comes to feminism, quite literally, in the sense that I won’t let a guy pay for my dinner. Unless I’m paying next time. I am confident. I have the audacity to actually like my body, even though I don’t have a flat stomach and my thighs are kind of massive. I don’t obsessively shave bits of myself that don’t really need shaving. (I mean, honestly, it’s WINTER.) My body occasionally makes strange noises and odours and I don’t apologise for that. I can hold my own. I can take a joke. I have my own goals and ambitions and plans, and none of them involve getting married any time soon. Or indeed, maybe ever.

So this is what I’m like. While I can’t imagine myself being any other way, part of me knows that, at some point, it was a conscious decision. At some point, probably when I was around 14 or 15, I made a value judgement; I didn’t want to be that girl.

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I don’t think I’m beautiful

This post was inspired by Lisa Hickey’s powerful article/confessional, Chasing Beauty: An Addict’s Memoir

I don’t think I’m beautiful.

And I don’t – in any way, shape or form – mean that as a self-pitying, self-deprecating statement. I am not fishing for compliments. I don’t have low self-esteem.

This is what I look like at No Make-Up o'clock
This is what I look like at No Make-Up o’clock

When I say I don’t think I’m beautiful, I mean it as a matter-of-fact, realistic statement. This does not mean I don’t think I’m attractive. I think I look pretty good most of the time, especially if my hair is sitting right and my skin is behaving and I took the time to moisturise. I’m confident enough to say that I’m attractive, that I like my body and I like my face and I think I scrub up pretty nicely when I make the effort.

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