There is a woman who lives inside my head. She has perfect, flawless skin and isn’t hairy. Her teeth are straight, her hands elegant. She can dance on the tips of her toes, run all day and then cook a three course meal without turning a hair. She remembers dates, references, details and conversations perfectly, has perfect pitch. Her hands do not shake, she never drops things, she is graceful, not clumsy. She knows intuitively what everyone around her wants and is able to deliver this smoothly and unobtrusively. She is calm, reasonable and sensible, free from melodrama, but she’s also warm and emotionally available. I could go on, but you probably get the idea.
The woman in my head is everything I have been asked to be down the years and failed to live up to. She is everything parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, students and lovers have failed to find in me at varying times. She has grown alongside me, my perfect demon, sitting there day by day making it clear what I am not. All the things my body cannot do. All the places my mind fails, all the skills I do not have. She has been well fed by every reproachful moment of me having let someone else down.
I cannot be her, and that’s the point. She’s not available to me, not obtainable. No matter how thin I get, I am never thin enough to be her. No matter how well I do, she is always going to be better. You don’t get to win this kind of game. I did not create her alone, I had a lot of help from my culture especially. Everything I do, at some level I am comparing to the perfect demon in my head. Everything. But what makes this interesting is that I know I can’t be that. I know this cluster of beautiful, unobtainable goals cannot be mine, so why is she still here? Why is she still in my head, flawless and charming as she is?
Because her photo-shopped sisters are on the cover of every magazine, perhaps. Because I’ve seen the adverts full of perfect, clean, tidy homes where perfectly made up women smile for the camera with their perfectly clean children. Because I’ve seen pornography, and I’ve read positive thinking memes, and encountered yummy mummies, and not a day goes by but somewhere, something manages to tell me that the shiny woman, the impossible, unavailable woman in my head is who I am supposed to be.
I don’t know any perfect people. I know a lot of people with real, hairy, potentially flatulent bodies that do not do everything they might want to do. I know mournful people and grumpy people, and very few people with perfectly tidy homes. I have never met any shiny people, but I have met a lot of people who are trying hard to be the shiny and do all the things, and most of them do not seem to be enjoying it.
We have been occupied, some of us, (how many? I don’t know. It may not just be me)by a race of perfect creatures who leave us feeling inadequate and miserable. I’m thinking some deliberate resistance to this may be in order.