So living with your significant other is hard enough as it is. You're really bearing your all when you live together. There's no privacy, and no shame. And where are you supposed to make your grand exit to when you fight and you don't have a car? “That's it! I'm outta here! To... the corner store bakery...!...?”
Now it's even harder for me, a frumpy American, to be surrounded by the Brazilian upper-middle-class standard of beauty...and then to live with my husfriend and have him see all the “wobbly bits,” as Bridget Jones would say.
HOWEVER. Flash forward a bit. The Brazilian women we roll with do NOT do frumpy. They don't even do flip flops at the supermarket. They DO do plastic surgery like woah, weekly manicures and pedicures, waxings, peelings, “drenaigens linfáticas”, pilates, name-brand everything, and heels at the ice cream parlor on a Thursday night. So the standards are high, and I really do feel a lot of social pressure, just like, in my own mind.
Now, I've cleaned myself up a lot since moving here. I've lost almost 15 pounds. I invest a bit more in better quality products, like clothes, shoes, and makeup. I went to a dermatologist and got my face cleared up. It's not like I did all of this just to like, compete with the patricinhas. Part of it is also the time of my life: I'm not a student working full time anymore, so I have more time and money to invest in my health and appearance.
But I'll admit that a small part of it is competing with the patricinhas. I mean, on top of looking like (and probably spending) a million bucks every day, you should hear the kind of biscate-ness that comes out of these girls' mouths, girls who work with him in the hospital who know full well that Alexandre is happy in a serious relationship. These bitches flirt shamelessly. Two told Alexandre about how much they like anal sex. When he makes a point to mention me and how happy he is with me (in an attempt to shut them up), they get worse. One asked him, “wow, so what do YOU have that brought her all the way to Brazil, hmm?” Cadela! Most of them are nursing students, hoping to snag a rich doctor that can take care of them, just the way their daddies did. God, I am so critical and cynical.
I don't even know why Alexandre tells me about these exchanges. Part of me wishes he'd just make some rude comment to them and then keep the story to himself.
But I do remember these kinds of girls when Alexandre and I find ourselves in embarrassing situations that only couples living together can experience. Like when we go into bed and he gives me a kiss goodnight and then stops to ask, “Is that the Chinese food from dinner on your cheek?” Or when he comes home early from work and catches me eating leite condensado out of the can with a spoon. Or when you have pimples or hairs in all the wrong places.
When these things happen, I have fits of insecurity. I can't help but think, goddamn, those hoes at the hospital never show anyone these sides of themselves. They're prettied up 24/7. I worry that if Alexandre sees too much of my “wobbly bits” that it'll be easy for him to idealize these girls. I read an article once in Oprah by some woman who was cheating on her husband. She said that having an affair is like an endless second date; that you are past the formalities, but never get into the intimacies.
It's not that I think Alexandre's going to cheat. None of these fears or comparisons come from anything he says or does (except maybe telling me about these shameless sluts that hit on him). When I'm in one of my insecurity fits, I sometimes break down and tell him the kind of logic I've created in my mind. And he insists, “are you crazy? Why would I want a girl like that? I'm happy with you.” etc etc. He also points out that he's not exactly the cover of Men's Health Magazine, and that I'm exposed to plenty of his more embarrassing moments (I almost wrote “his wobbly bits”, but I decided against it). But his words don't do much because all of my psycho thoughts are completely internal.
I guess I try to feel better by remembering that you can't have true intimacy without showing some of your “wobbly bits”, whether they're physical or not. I mean, what's the alternative? To live apart so Alexandre never sees the raccoon eyes I get from my mascara? What kind of marriage is that? And really, for most of these patricinhas in their 20s, they don't advance in their superficial relationships because dating is all about the image. Plus, they live with their parents and only see their boyfriends a few nights a week, so he only sees the best of them. They go out together on Thursday and Friday, so she waxes on Monday and does her nails Thursday morning. But I'm making the argument that, to really know and be close to your partner, you've gotta let them see the good and the bad. I have the argument. Now I just have to like, repeat it to myself in the mirror 50 times a night or something.
Until I truly believe it and get over my insecurity fits, I'll try not to slump my shoulders too much when I run into a beauty queen at the grocery store and I'm in an old T-shirt (sacrilege!). Sigh.