My body does something gross at least once a day – from producing an assortment of goos, to picking God knows from between my thighs, to sticking my finger into my belly button and sniffing it. Human bodies are gross, but girls’ bodies are grosser.
For whatever reason, I’ve always thought that you have reached maturity when you stop finding farts funny. That one day, a maturity switch will be flicked and suddenly the hilarity found in flatulence isn’t there anymore. But being brought up as a girl, as a ‘little lady’, I feel as though we’re expected to never find them funny in the first place. ‘Boys will be boys’ and girls will be ‘proper’.
The phrase ‘unladylike’ has followed me my entire life. I don’t know when I promised to be a lady, but somewhere down the line it became expected of me. Not just by my exasperated mam telling me off for not excusing my burping, but also by friends who told me I was going too far with pussy puns and sex jokes. If a girl queefs and no one around acknowledges it, did the girl even queef at all?
I told an ex that I masturbated in the shower and he told the rest of the school, girls grimaced and guys gossiped – could it be true? The miracle myth of female masturbation? Could a girl pleasure herself more than a rough fingering behind a bin ever would? I vehemently denied all accusations and never mentioned pillow humping again. I was embarrassed of my body and of myself. I’d taken it too far.
I found a pair of my best friend’s older sister’s knickers with faint piss stains in when I was eleven. I found out that your black underwear becoming bleached was normal when I was eighteen. I joked about old pants being stained with new friends and they never let it go. I’d taken it too far.
I’m not looking to validate my own weirdness or openness. I’m not looking to invalidate the prim and proper ladies who daren’t trump in front of a boyfriend either. There’s not just physicality to being gross, but a mental capacity to accept it too. Girls may not grow up with burping competitions and circle jerks, but we have our own whole world of weird that’s never acknowledged.
Gross girls aren’t represented in teen soap operas. Gross girls aren’t present in our favourite young adult novels. Gross girls aren’t Pretty Little Liars. Gross Girls don’t reside in the Orange County. Gross girls are only there in memories of school years where their outlandishness comforted us. Gross girls who would make a joke out of something you’d been obsessing over for months. Gross girls make us feel comfortable with our bodies again.
We guard each other down alleyways as it’s too far to the toilet to hold in our piss. We pass tampons under tables whilst men discuss their turds and turgid dicks. We gain confidence in being gross as we grow older. We have sex without any of the polish or professionalism of porn and that’s what makes it so much better. We wait ‘til the guys go to bed and make sleepover screams about squirting, sex and whatever should be making us ‘young ladies’ feel squeamish. It’s a secret club, where women discuss the taboo and cackle, but when men discuss all things ‘manly’ we’re meant to grimace. “You’re gross!” We’re meant to girlishly chide while never letting the Stepford Wives guise slip.
What gross girls provide, why we need a gross girl in every friendship group and girl gang, is the assurance of whatever weird thing that has happened to you in private has probably happened to all your friends too. Even if they’ll never admit it.
I want girls to reclaim our grossness publicly. I want to smear fake tan and snot across boys shouting about sex in the smoking area. I want to scrape too-long nails around my nostrils and pick it, lick it, roll it up and flick it. I want to spit in the street and shit in the woods and sweat, sneeze and be sick over men who insist, “Girls don’t shit.”
Words by Georgina Jones
Illustrations by Georgia Haire