Picture the scene. You’re in Lola’s. It’s Wednesday. The DJ has just finished playing that song which goes, “to the window, to the wall, ‘til the sweat drops down my balls…” Your friend is in front of you, grinding on a boy she barely knows. Rihanna comes on and she begins mouthing, “sticks and stones may break my bones but whips and chains excite me,” seductively towards him. He doesn’t notice. He’s not looking at her face. Sound familiar? I thought so …
As I write this, I am sat cross legged on the floor of a rooftop café in Varanassi, India. A bead of sweat swells at the base of my neck, gathering momentum down my back until it hits and soaks into the top of my trousers. The pen feels slippery in my hand.
I am drinking a coffee which tastes like soil and there is grime embedded in every one of my pores. There is mud (I say mud, although it is actually more likely to be poo – in India there is a saying: “if in doubt, it’s probably poo”) ingrained in my shoes. I smell. It feels amazing.
There is no point in wearing makeup here in Varanassi, as it is so humid that it would slide down your face the moment you flip flop out of the door. Due to the holiness of the city, there is also no point in wearing anything but drab baggy clothes. Loose is a must. Tourists and locals alike are a potpourri of drudge colours. Everyone is equally drab. As a result, there is no boob-envy in Varanassi. There is no worry about washboard abs, no stress about the cellulite on your thighs. It is refreshing.
In the west, we are constantly bombarded with images of perfection. Without even realising, we are groomed towards self-improvement. We moisturise. We pluck. We push up. We suck in. Our crusade towards flawlessness is never ending. It is exhausting.
Sometimes we are in danger of wearing so much makeup, that we lose the definition of our faces. A friend of mine has been with her boyfriend for over two years and yet she has never let him see her without foundation. This is an improvement; it took her a year to lose the mascara, the blusher, the concealer, the…list goes on.
Another friend has a figure which you would happily swap your entire collection of Kurt Geiger’s for. However, the crazy girl pads her bra so much that her double As look more like double Ds. God knows what she puts down there; chicken fillets, tissues, socks, guinea pigs… It’s quite a feat of engineering, believe me.
Now, I am not deluded. I am aware that I would not be able to rock up to Lola’s in baggy trousers caked in cow poo. I would probably be refused entry even if I plucked up the confidence to leave my house sans makeup. There is a time and a place to be in a state of “disgusting skank”. But we should remember the beauty in it from time to time.