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When I’m about to meet a man, ​I get ready. Because I want to get ready. Sometimes it starts days before. Sometimes a few hours. I try to eat the right things, vegetables, soups, no carbs. I mostly don’t, though, which sometimes or often turns into mental punishment, for a moment I wonder if all that food was really worth it,

 

I hate it when my stomach swells and I’m next to him,

there’s something about the lightness of body, —stomach and limbs—

that precipitates a (sort of very) primitive feeling of irresistibility

within the self​. Conveyance.

It’s not about control, I’ll have no control, regardless. It’s almost like. Desire.

That’s it, I think it’s feeling desirable, most days.

The day off, I do cardio for an hour. Sometimes 45 minutes. Sometimes I go to the gym, sometimes I watch a workout video on Youtube. If I run in private on a treadmill, like at my parent’s house, I watch a film with attractive people. Thin, attractive people. Women. Women whose bodies disseminate both the notion of desire and being desired, a culturally acquired fanaticism emanating from within the pure exposure of their bodies and ruptured fully within the possibility of their audience, and therefore within the very possibility of myself. (​The unmediated relation of the body to itself as innocence.)

 

I watch these bodies, because

I want these bodies. I watch these bodies, so I become these bodies.

When I work out in public, I watch different films. No longer do attractive women become the focal element of my circumstance, I feel self-conscious when someone else is around. The exhibitional aspect of perfect bodies projected in front of a crowd of ​everyday normalcy seems absurdly depressing to me. For a while now, ever since I became aware of society’s conditioned binary existence of beautiful / ugly. Fortunate / Unfortunate. You’re beautiful, you’re ugly. There’s something absurdly tragic when witnessing one’s own pathetic history, present, future simultaneously alongside those of a similar destiny. It’s like becoming even more aware of the nameless complexities within reality of one’s own and that of others. ​Life’s a bitch.

During the shower I shave my legs, armpits, pussy, my fingers slide over every part, the job is only ​done when everything’s smooth. Anything else isn’t enough.

 

The times (I) women have sent

a man home

because hair gushed out

of the pores

 

of our bodies.

The blade leads

to physical freedom.

 

 

Sometimes it’s too late,

we’re set in our ways

by now. (Supposed to,

and wanting to.)

 

It’s too late,

the edifice already is​.

 

After showering, I apply oil, inside my belly, my holes, ​ for whatever reason it makes me feel cleaner. Inevitable. I might put on a mask, hydration or detox, depending if there’s time. Usually there’s time, because I make time. Tonique, to close the pores, a fatty moisturizer that keeps away the wrinkles for a while longer. Or, so I think. (Sometimes I think I’ve learned to obsess over aging because—while the faces and bodies of many began to waste away, surfeited by alcohol cigarettes and the chronology of failed ambitions—my DNA parallel to my ever-intensifying vanity just slow-danced along, real slow, regardless of all that drinking and smoking and surviving. Not aging became so much part of the process of aging, that now it’s all about waiting to age like everyone else does. ​I’m terrified of the immunity of time and how yet unaware I am of its existence.)

Dressing is fast, and easy. I know what looks good on me. Skinny looks usually nice in oversized clothing, it accentuates—silently—the authority of bone and flesh, collarbone and seemingly long limbs, without falling into the easily spat around concept of ​attention-whore. After all, a catatonic body—even if just its surface—is less attackable. ​Trying too hard—it’s a thing, actually. Pretty, sexually-desirable. But not slutty.

Men often don’t think too much about the implications of attention-whoring, they are too distracted by the inevitability of their phallic condition, at times the instinct of desire can be a hard thing to ignore. It’s women-on-women action. We’ve learned to be suspicious, fearing—and

within the fear, the deeply habituated bittersweet desire of manifesting the very same sway of the bodily—of one another’s potential of erotic capital. The threat is almost everywhere. The threat is everywhere.

I want to be as hot as her. And when/if I am,

I don’t want her to be as hot as me.

 

Preferably,

 

she’s the most beautiful in the room.

Even that is not enough.

 

Beauty isn’t about beauty

anymore,

 

beauty is about

 

standardization

subordination

a by-product of female

 

Beauty is about patriarchal

Expectations,

I’m fine with that though.

I’m not entirely sure this is driven by competition. It seems more instinctual than that. It’s bleeding, alive. Preconditioned knowledge. The competition immediately recycled through the desire of men. We are never free. And even if we could, would we want to be?

We moved to Mexico a few months ago, I was 13. Sofia, a new classmate, invited some girls and me to her house after school so we could get ready for the party in her backyard. Boys were coming.

I don’t remember what we had for lunch, I remember the kitchen’s massive 2-door fridge which on its left shelves had rows and rows of Coca-Cola cans and water bottles stacked neatly next to each other. It reminded me of watching MTV cribs on cable back in Europe, a rapper’s entourage chilling on coaches and playing PS while drinking some sponsored energy drink, how the slow-motion scenes of the fridge’s door opening glorified them as much as the Ferraris and Rolls Royces standing outside the garage. These lives seemed so abstract, lives only existing within the realms of TV.

I remember the house’s abundance of detail, vases that all fulfilled their function of holding fresh flowers, pillowcases from all types of material and color, professionally photographed portraits of the family in elaborate frames—I imagined their weight particularly heavy when holding them—dispersed all over the hallways and living rooms, the entirety of them proving—almost intrusively—​living had always taken place here. ​There was so just much living, it was uncomfortable to watch.


 

The girls rolled their hardshell suitcases into Sofia’s bedroom, they had brought them to class in the morning. We wore uniform to school, a pleated skirt that was supposed to reach our kneecaps—most of the girls had them sewed shorter, ​because we thought it looked better but because it looked sexier—a white blouse, marin blue blazer, white socks reaching the periphery of the knees. The first day I walked into the classroom I remember thinking how ethically young everyone looked, the uniform conferred a ​girl-generic innocence which felt like an exaggeration in itself. Many of us had bled, soft fat gently grew beneath our white blouses, we had felt the possibility of short arousal with our sex during moments of furthered intimacy. We were girls, looking like eternalized children.

In a separate corner, each of them opened their luggage and took out an array of clothing, shoes, jewelry. Some of them brought make-up cases. All that color, glitter—blazing. There was so much exaggerated ​girlhood in front of us​, female-subscribed materiality to make them/us beautiful, universally. I opened my bag—made from cotton, but probably made from plastic—and put on a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and converse. I was ready, which felt just as uncomfortable as my lack of belongings. I tried to watch them with excitement, to share this feeling of ​looking pretty, my embarrassment a contemplative immersion. It was the first time I was consciously put face-to-face with the ritualized consumption of ​young beauty, ​I watched girls becoming.

Padded strapless bras. Tube tops in different colors. Green, fuchsia, blue, yellow. Pants. Jeans. Dresses. Skirts. Belts, so many belts. And hairpins and earrings. The sound of blow-dryers, the searing of hair while passing through straighteners and curlers. High heels which made their small feet look even smaller. Their tiny lips, glossed in thick pink lipstick, glazing whenever their mouths opened to speak or smile. ​I’ll always remember those lips, those white teeth recoiling wet in a pond of strawberry-vanilla ice-cream, their tender jaws invisible. Eyes covered in mascara, long and heavy, breakable like the twigs of a tree in winter. Their child skin temporarily plasticized and ripened in foundation. The end product, indistinguishable real human masks, genuinely mirroring idealizations borrowed from elsewhere, they were everything,

body, open mouths and eyes, child and

woman, fantasy and sex and innocence,

history and future, the presence absent.

 

A labored infinity to their being,

tragic yet so impossibly beautiful to look at. I swear,

it was impossible to not desire

(even quietly)

their effeminate representation,

 

their unrealistic beauty was the gateway to soft happiness

even though they were everything, except themselves.

 

In one of the living rooms we waited for the boys to arrive. A breathing facadism of externalized beauty, purposefully, the semblance of their and of our autonomy sterilized and gone. We waited to be looked at, seeking approval and admiration. We waited. And somehow we’re still waiting. But it’s alright, I guess. Somehow, we’ll keep surviving.

Words: Lara Konrad, Images: Nikki Peck