Part II: Envy
I 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.
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.