"You look really beautiful and young for your age," says my friend Alison.
"Thanks," I say halfheartedly. The truth is, I feel feministically uncomfortable about this conversation. I suspect quite strongly that it simply isn't true – I don't look particularly 'beautiful' ever, but especially not right now, at this moment in time. On the way to the bar tonight I caught a glimpse of myself on the BVG CCTV monitor, and I looked, basically, like a cross between Daisy out of Thomas the Tank Engine, a big, fat British dinner lady, and George Zimmerman. So that makes me feel quite uncomfortable. But I also, as a feminist, really wish I didn't care quite so fucking much.
"Do I look young for my age?" she asks.
"Yes," I say.
"How old do I look?" she asks.
"Twenty-nine," I say. "You look about 29. When I met you, I thought you were 29."
Alison sighs sadly.
"Jacinta, when we met, I was 29."
"Well," I say, "you don't look a day older."
So, there's a lot of things I really fucking hate about being a woman. One of them, for example, is how we have to spend almost every minute of our waking lives doing stuff to our bodies in order to make men more likely to want to insert their penises into our vaginas – we do all this stuff, we use all this stuff – eyeliner and hair remover and body scrubs and hair conditioner and nail softener and fake tan and sunblock and concealer and that's not even the fucking half of it – all this stuff and all these implements, scraping and scrubbing away with an almost military precision AND IT'S FUCKING EXHAUSTING – but we must never refer to it – we must never speak of it – we must never speak of it, ever. We're not allowed to say: "I am wearing a new mascara, it cost over €7, hope I get a shag tonight." We're not allowed to say that, because boys find vanity shallow and they find shallow women unattractive so we have to walk around like hollow hypocrites, pretending like we just actually like the fresh peachy smell of all that gubbins you can buy in Body Shop and Lush. I really hate that. I don't mind doing this shit, but I think boys should be grateful for the hours and money I'm putting in. And I hate pretending it's all about my self-esteem and personal image and stuff. It's not. It's about getting a shag. That's why I never wear make-up to work. All of my colleagues are Kolleginnen.
Another thing I hate is getting older. I know men get older too, but it's not the same. They get older in a Gregor Gysi, and, worst case scenario, Iggy Pop type way. Women turn into Zsa Zsa Gebor crossed with Barbara Cartland crossed with Death itself. It's shit. Every day I wake up and I have new wrinkles on my face. Actually, at the moment, at this point in time, I quite like them – they're like these delicate lines of lace traced softly onto my face with a razor blade – but it's what they're going to turn into that I hate. Deep lines. Deep, deep, deep lines. The scars of ageing, representing imminent death – and, worst of all, before the death, the long desert years – 30 or 40 horrendous wasteland years – where nobody will ever have sex with me, ever. It's going to be awful. I'm going to have to buy a vibrator and everything.
Another thing I hate about being a woman is all that yoga bollocks. I don't mind other people doing yoga, if that's their hobby, that's nice, I like people to have hobbies they enjoy doing and I can see how yoga could probably be a very enjoyable hobby. But people are always pretending that all these celebrities look great coz they do loads of yoga, and all these other celebrities look bad coz they've had lots of Botox. That really annoys me. Dur. They have all had Botox, all of them. It's just that some of them know when to stop.
"I was at that Italian restaurant we went to once," says Alison.
"Yeah?" I say.
"By the Ufer," she says. "I met a boy there. He was really nice. He thought I was 28."
"Yeah," I say. "I met a boy at Rakete 2000 who thought I was 28, too."
And this is the thing I hate most about being a woman – that the biggest compliment you can ever get, ever, ever, EVER, ever, EVER is that you look younger than you are – 28 when you're really 33, 31 when you're really 38, 45 when you're really 57, always younger, younger, younger, YOUNGER, Hauptsache younger. The main thing is that you look less than you really are. It doesn't matter what a girl's done, it doesn't matter what a woman has achieved. "Oh, but I would've said you were much younger than that!" is the biggest compliment a girl can ever get.
How can it be? How can it be the biggest compliment ever? What people are saying, essentially, is: "You come across as if you have had less life experience than you really have had. You seem less of a person than you really are. I thought you were less than that, when I met you." And what I really hate? What I really, really, really fucking hate? That I still feel flattered, even though I try to pretend I don't. God, I despise myself sometimes. Somebody acid attack me, I fucking deserve it.
So, I used to think I wanted Botox. I was sick of the hypocrisy of people judging women on their looks all the time, but then judging them on how they got there. I was sick of all that yoga propaganda, like if you're a good girl, you'll have healthy, clear skin and men will want to insert their penises into you, well done. It's like your reward for being "brav" and I wanted to cheat, you know. Plus, I really do like the Amanda Holden/Kristina Schröder look. I'm not saying Germany’s Women's Minister has had Botox by the way. I actually don't think she has. She's just got a forehead like a toddler. I think she looks great. I want a swollen, innocent, Sindy doll head like Amanda Holden and Kristina Schröder. That's what I want. Also, I just felt like I wanted to be the one to control my body. I wanted a bit of control back.
But I've changed my mind recently. Fuck that, I thought. You're gonna get old, anyways, people are not gonna want to fuck you soon, might as well get used to it now. You don't wanna wake up one day and find out you've turned into Dorien out of Birds of a Feather. That's why I've been kind of thinking lately that I should dye my hair grey. Look all wise and spiritual like Yoda. Maybe get a shawl. Sit there with premature grey hair and a shawl on, watching everyone intently, like I'm Yoda. Because. Because: fuck you. Fuck you, that's not a compliment. Not really. Not at all.