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Part II: Envy

Part II: Envy
Curiouser Jane

illustration: jBI am a proud weirdo.  I’ve given up all semblance of normality ages ago. Embracing, instead, the most exuberant displays of my strangeness. Still, sometimes, a thought creeps up on me like a surprise party. I might be walking down Michigan Avenue, watching the tourists pass by, and I will find myself almost in awe of the simplicity of their existence. I mean these people – these squares, these muggles, these buffers, these rubes – do they ever look in the mirror and wonder, like I do, if today will be the day that my toe scratches up that line, dooming me in a blazing hate crime perpetrated by a dude-bro in a popped polo?

I think there is something particular to being queer, of existing in the bizarro side of society, that lends itself to a hyper and heightened sense of jealousy.

They have it so easy. The bastards.

Of course, I know that this is not entirely true. I’m sure they have their own idiosyncratic hardships, and the trope of “the grass is always greener” is by no means limited to the queerful. Still, I think there is something particular to being queer, of existing in the bizarro side of society, that lends itself to a hyper and heightened sense of jealousy. I think it’s fundamental to the experience of being an outcast, a persona non grata. It’s common, or at least I tell myself that it is, that, for those casted upon the margins of society, we each have moments where we contemplate ourselves against that thick, fun-house mirror of normality. Peering in, with our hands on our hips, we stand wondering how we would look, wear our hair, dress, speak, or conduct our boring lives if we could, for a moment, step through that looking glass into the ostensible State of normality.

When I have these thoughts, these jealous moments, I pensively picture myself against all those who walk around me, unaware of their privilege, unaware of anything really, and I think to myself, “Ah, what it would be like to be like them!”  These are my Ariel moments, when, though I should know better, I would give up my voice for the shrill pleasure of having two legs.

Sometimes, this envy crops up in my day-to-day—for example, a burning jealousy of the woman on the CTA who looks so much more fabulous than I do, or the invidious feeling I get when I see that one trans woman porn star who is so pretty it hurts to even look at her, or even the more general envy I have for trans men who get so much more respect than trans women purely because they are men. However, mostly it arises, hazily, with the blue-and-yellow glow of the television set.

Ah, T.V., that videoscape where the Capitalists have been systematically structuring covetousness into the codex of consumerism. I mean, really, nothing drives up demand for a product like the nose-dive one’s self-esteem takes after the daily bombardment of all the flawless and perfected, tweeked and photoshopped, supermodels working for all the nihilistic, multinational corporations. Now, I’d like to say that I’m immune to most of television’s attempt to deaden my soul and to get me to buy some worthless manifestation of my personality, but I can’t. I can’t because there is a set of commercials that just leaves me writhing in my own self-doubt, sweating and panting in lustful hope for the unattainable beauty myth.

Venus razors.

They will be the death of me.

Forced to watch those bikini-clad cis women walk toe-to-heel across snow-white beaches with their newly-shaved and silky skin invariably triggers, deep within my bowels, an insatiable jealousy that sparks and flares, raging in my rib cage. Those women, I  find myself thinking, would never find themselves in a second-story apartment’s dimly-lit bathroom, red and swollen with raised bumps on their inner thighs from only having the most sophomoric understanding of how to properly shave their legs. They would never find themselves in a general panic, a crying fit, crouched down, knees to head, on the floor of the shower, while globs of pink, aloe-infused foam circle the drain. Those women were taught their entire life how to be smooth, hairless goddesses; I had no education in depilation.

I cannot explain why the Venus razors commercials trigger such a deep rancor from within me. For what ever reason, they–those Goddesses–have become the embodied manifestation of the common taken-for-grantedness of cis womanhood.  And so, I always find myself indignantly imagining all those goddesses nicking a major artery in their leg, pouring out quart after quart of blood, pooling and staining the white beach sands.

That always makes me feel a little bit better.


  1. Jem

    imagining you in the shower cryin made me sad ;(..the blood pouring out after a nick made me LOL. :)

  2. Thanks for the love…
    – a weirdo and a Venus razor owner!

  3. Julie Blair

    I’m a Pearl girl. ANd I use my Intuition.

  4. Red

    I swear, I feel like you’ve reached into my head and plucked out every angry little thought! Envy rules my world in ways that I am scared to admit. I envy those who are brave enough to articulate it.

  5. Jillian Weiss

    omg, I also love the Venus razor! At least now I do, I didn’t used to, but I learned how to stop worrying and love the razor. It’s the bomb.

  6. “or the invidious feeling I get when I see that one trans woman porn star who is so pretty it hurts to even look at her”

    Wow, do I know that feeling intimately…

  7. Flora

    Oh and envy for other queers, to appear so perfectly put together as freaks and outcasts, to have my shit together like I imagine they do theirs. Thats what gets me.

    But thank you for your words.

  8. mumtaza

    I am a cis woman and when we start shaving we all cut huge running bloody pits out of our legs and our mothers in turn tell us their horror stories also. My mother taught me the secret is don’t press the razor into your skin. Just slide it along, skimming lightly. This piece brought back a memory of becoming a woman that I hadn’t had in 20 years. Thank you.

  9. Angry

    I used to cut myself so badly that I’d go faint and slip in the shower. It was shameful, even aged 14, to admit that one was not flawlessly and effortlessly perfect at performing the compulsory new rituals of femininity, so if you cut yourself badly enough to need a plaster (a weekly event), you wore trousers even in the worst heat.

    I also had cystic acne at that age, so had to deal with the pain of the “treatments” that were imposed on me by doctors and cosmetologists. My cosmetologist at the time would drain the cysts and then apply a Dead Sea mask to disinfect the wounds (yes, literally salt on my 14-yo wounds). She used to sit there with a tissue and mop the tears that would roll down my temples, from the pain. It left scabs, which were also shameful – so I used more coverage in the form of cake makeup, which made the acne worse, which made the treatments worse…

    You weren’t allowed to admit you were on your period, because it was disgusting and the boys would follow you around saying you smell of fish. So however bad the cramps were, you had to save face. Mine were so excruciating, one time my dad panicked and took me to the emergency room. I was crying so hard, he thought it was my appendix.

    The half starved, probably self-loathing, over-scrutinized woman in the razor commercial is there to be the object of envy, for me as well as you. I just don’t make the mistake of thinking that anyone else should come in for a share of my resentment.

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