I stare blankly at the bottom of the toilet bowl trying not to focus on the pounding headache that woke me a few hours before. This must be at least the third time I’ve been sick this morning. My arms are folded across the toilet seat, my forehead resting on them as I wait for the nausea to pass. It doesn’t and my body retches again, so violently I’m scared my throat is going to burst.
When it’s safe to do so I move away from the toilet bowl and sit on my knees, praying that will be the last bathroom visit for a while and that maybe I can finally get some sleep. I look down at the cracked tiles on the bathroom floor and let my mind wander somewhere else for a bit. I’ve had a lot of thinking time this morning whilst I’ve been keeled over the toilet and I can’t stop replaying a conversation I had with one of my friends last night.
I was drunk. Too drunk in fact to be having a conversation about something I feel so strongly about. Did I shout? I remember raising my voice but that could have been down to the fact we were all shouting just so we could hear ourselves over the loud music. Maybe I came across in the wrong way; my enthusiasm that she was feeling what I have been feeling being portrayed as anger.
You see, my friends and I aren’t the type who spend our weekends going out out. I for one had a mini panic about what the hell I was going to wear as I don’t own any latest fashion pieces or wear ‘on trend’ make-up and my eyebrows are rarely ‘on fleek’. In fact, I’m pretty sure no one in my circle of friends would know what I was talking about if I ever used the term ‘on fleek’ around them.
That isn’t to say I don’t take pride in my appearance, I like a good fake tanning session as much as half the population of Instagram, but in all honesty that’s about as far as my beauty regime goes. I also know I wasn’t the only one wearing ‘old’ clothes on Saturday night or shoes I’ve owned for over 5 years, but whad’ya know, the world didn’t end and everyone had a good time.
Also, there’s still a lot of life left in those shoes FYI.
The nausea is rising again. Dear lord when will it stop? I edge closer towards the toilet bowl as my body heaves and tries to erase all traces of alcohol from my system. I’m sweating now, my body is tired and shaking. Ed Sheeran’s new song lyrics enter my head: “Me and my friends have not thrown up in so long, oh how we’ve grown…” and the irony amuses me. I didn’t even drink that much did I? Maybe someone spiked me? Hmm, likely story Rachel. You drank too much and now you’re paying the price. Although 2 glasses of wine, one of which I didn’t finish, and 3 glasses of prosecco isn’t exactly ‘too much’ in my opinion. I look down at my self tanned legs and like how they look against the white bathroom floor tiles. I do love a good fake tan.
So there we were, gathered around in a little circle on the dance floor with our drinks in hand, all that was missing was a handbag for us to dance around. No one had their phone out and not one selfie was taken in over 3 hours. I can’t believe there’s no evidence of me leaving the house in something other than my gym attire and I didn’t get the chance to apply my Instagram filter to my not so flawless face. #fail
I found myself in a conversation about how fake people can look on social media and how it makes real life seem a little less real and a whole less glamorous. I’m paraphrasing a bit here as let’s be honest, it’s quite clear I was too drunk to remember the entire conversation word for word but I basically got the gist of it and it went something along these lines.
Now, if you happen to be like a few of my friends who do not spend their waking hours scrolling through Facebook, Twitter or (especially) Instagram then seriously, good for you, stay that way because believe me it is not the place you want to be unless you like feeling a little bit less than average. You do not need to feel inadequate about the fact your house isn’t totally photogenic, with white floorboards designed perfectly for flatlays of your brown, toned limbs.
OK I’ll admit it, I’ve taken similar photos. There, I said it. I’ve tried really bloody hard to make my Instagram feed look aesthetically pleasing to the eye and maybe, just maybe I’m a tad jealous because I don’t have as many followers as I’d like. Maybe if I looked as good as I wanted and I loved my body I would be flaunting it too. I’m pretty sure there’s a few photos of me showing my ‘abs’ off in a rare photo somewhere over on Instagram. Maybe I’m one of those people who’s stuck somewhere between wanting to moan about feeling the effects of social media and the people behind it and secretly wanting to join them. Do I want to be one of those people who look flawless and who’s eyebrows are on fleek even if I don’t really know what it means? Does anyone really know what it means? Do I want to own a house with white kitchen surfaces so when I photograph my food it looks like it belongs on Pinterest or in one of Jamie Oliver’s latest books? Do I want rock hard abs and pretty manicured fingers that hold green juices all day? Which is funny actually because I have a feature going live on another blog this week where I am, in fact, sitting on my bed drinking a green juice. Oh the shame.
However, I also like living in the real world and enjoy the fact I don’t actually know how to contour my own face to make it look perfect– I feel not only would this take up a lot of time but I really don’t like the idea of washing it off at the end of the day and seeing the shape of my ‘real’ face without it. I like the fact my friends look at me and not at their phones when I’m with them and (in the nicest possible way) their faces resemble real people– people who spend time with their horses or their children, people who may be going through tough and difficult times in their lives. People who are simply living.
Of course there isn’t anything wrong in being body confident and I firmly believe we all have the right to show off our bodies if we want to because why shouldn’t we be proud of what we have and who’s right is it to tell someone else what they can and can’t share online? It’s the fakeness that comes with social media that I’m not loving. The photoshopping of images to make people look perfect for example. What are these images doing to the younger more naive generation if they are making me, a thirty something woman feel shit about herself?
I don’t think this is something we all feel. I think there are many people out there who couldn’t give a flying monkeys to be honest and they are perfectly able to disassociate the online world from the real world without a problem, but I see a lot of this, especially in creative women. I’m into blogging so naturally I’ve found other bloggers to follow and devour their content. I read that they have fallen victim to the same feeling. I am also a photographer with many other photographer friends and acquaintances and I know the demon of comparison often sits on their shoulders too.
We are living in a world where everything is online and there doesn’t seem to be any boundaries and quite frankly I’m a little bit worried that a few of my friends children or young family members are now seeing what I’m seeing and not only that, but what if at such a young age they are feeling what I’m feeling? I joke and tell my friends I’ll look out for their children on social media as I am probably the only one who bothers with platforms like Instagram and Twitter because I’m told this is how you grow a following as a blogger and as a photographer. But there are times where I have to switch off and put my phone out of reach just to save myself from the constant comparison of the lives I see on my screen. Even as a photographer I struggle to tell whether someone has airbrushed their face or photoshopped their body to perfection and all too often I find myself feeling really low whilst I’m scrolling. How ridiculous is that?
And that was what my friend was getting at. If that’s what people ‘look like’ on social media then she would rather not see it and I really do not blame her.
I think my body has finally finished throwing up, there can’t possibly be anything left inside by now anyway. I need coke, which is really odd as I never drink fizzy drinks, and rich tea biscuits because I’ve heard they are a good thing to eat when you’ve been sick. I drag my tired body off the bathroom floor and pad bare foot across the landing into our bedroom and climb back into bed next to Rich. Everything is hard work and I feel like my body weighs far more than it actually does. My skin is sore to touch, something I find happens on the rare occasion I allow myself to drink enough to suffer a hangover. I’ll have to get Rich to go to the shops in a bit as I can’t stand the feeling of the emptiness in my tummy much longer. And man I need that coke. Maybe I’ll take a selfie of me eating rich tea biscuits with the traces of last night’s mascara smudged under my eyes because this is undoubtedly, real life.
I wonder how many likes that would get on Instagram?
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