Columns Lifestyle

Nice to Meet You, I’m a Slut! A Self-Care Slob

A few weeks into lockdown my mum made a very astute observation concerning my legs: 

“I see you’ve given up on shaving”. 

I was quick to correct her because I hadn’t “given up”. Oh no, I’d made a conscious decision to use this extended period of enforced solitude to grow out my body hair, partially out of general laziness, but mostly out of curiosity because, like many girls, I’ve maintained hairless legs from around the age of fourteen/fifteen, so I don’t really know what my ‘natural’ legs look like. I suppose this is my quarantine hair-experiment – my equivalent to shaving my head or cutting my own bangs. A surprising number of my friends and I have also been washing our hair less in an effort todecrease grease long-term, but the short-term effects have been an oily affair to say the least. In themselves these changes are not particularly exciting as it’s just, well, hair (we all have it), but this abstinence from things I’d previously considered a core part of my ‘self-care’ routine has led to some reconsideration of what I consider self-care to really be.

Before I launch into my preach about what ‘self-care’ really means, I will admit that the money I’ve saved on shampoo, conditioner, and razors, I have spent on expensive skin care products. Again, being out of the public eye provides opportunity for experiment; it doesn’t matter if I have a break-out right now, so I may as well mess around with my face. Other than the occasional facemask, I’ve never been one for extravagant skin-care. I don’t know what ‘toner’ is or what it does, I don’t understand the significance of ‘exfoliation’, and I really don’t get what the deal is with those face-roller things made out of semi-precious stones. Up until very recently, I had been using the same £5 Neutrogena ‘Refreshingly Clear Facial Wash’ (a product I had chosen on the very technical basis of its pinkness) and matching moisturiser since I was fifteen. I’d always been intimidated by the glamour, commitment, and ingredient names of the more high-end skin-care world. So, I did some research, ordered a couple of products and – I will admit – they have made me feel pretty good. Am I happy that I’ve sold my soul to the self-care-commodified Gods of skin-care? No. Has putting fancily packaged products that smell like Holland & Barrett on my face brought me some joy in these otherwise bleak times? Yes. Will I surrender my money  to these companies all over again in a few months time? Probably.

So, being seduced by the glitz and glamour of over-priced skin-care regimes has formed part of my ‘self-care’ journey within lockdown. I am aware plenty of work has been done recently on this millennial buzzword, particularly on its relationship with productivity and social media, but the kind of ‘self-care’ I’m thinking about right now is definitely not the kind you want to put all over your Instagram story. I’m talking about self-care as slobbishness, as taking an entire day off to use your lounge-wear for lounging – not baking, stretching, or doing anything at all really. My parents have each shown me their preferred ‘day off’ and, over the past twenty years, I have learned the benefits and downsides to their conflicting ideals; my dad buys into productivity culture as an early riser who loves to ‘seize the day’ to do something ‘improving’, whereas my mum is a big believer in duvet days, rising at noon, and weekends when ‘getting dressed’ means putting on a fresh set of pyjamas. Right now, I am grateful to be living with my mum who very much encourages rest, because under my dad’s roof I would not get away with spending an entire day watching Netflix, or playing Sims 4, or generally indulging in slobbishness. Because taking these days off to switch off completely, and to be a little gross, is probably the form of self-care that’s most important to me. I know I’m not doing it for ‘the aesthetic’, like I am with skin-care, because there’s nothing pretty about sitting around in baggy t-shirts and joggers whilst eating pizza in front of your laptop.

There is a song which I discovered a while ago and has been playing on my mind in these unshaved, unshowered, and unwashed moments of lockdown. I am furious that I can’t find the full song even on YouTube or on any streaming site for that matter, but there is a web page webpage where you can listen to part of it and read the lyrics. It’s called Gross and it’s Allison Ponthier’s take on self care, particularly as a woman, since we, as a gender, collectively aren’t supposed to sweat, fart, or be gross at all. She debunks these myths with lines like ‘I swear just like a truck driver’ and ‘When I’m alone / My hand down my sweatpants / I eat a whole bag of some sweet shit.’ I often sing the chorus to myself just as a reminder that ‘I have a right to be gross’ just as much as any middle-aged man or teenage boy and it’s okay to exercise that right – now more so than ever.

Alice Garnett

Alice is our resident sex columnist whose interests include pints, pink, and all things love-related. When she's not evangelising Singledom she's busy hyping up her East Midlands home town, demystifying bisexuality, and writing for other publications such as Lithium Magazine and Adolescent Content.