Weird things that humans do that we think are TOTALLY NORMAL
Updated: Jun 17, 2020
I am going to add to this post in time (and not necessarily in the right order, for which I am not apologetic because, trust me, the writing will be a lot better if I feel particularly inspired about one chapter at the time I write it), but for now I just wanted to list the contents of this article:
1 - Our relationship with hair
2 - Drinking cows' breast milk
3 - Not being naked (nipple standards) and wearing shoes
4 - Performing/Acting
5 - Wearing makeup
6 - Buying things
7 - Our weird relationship with other animals
8 - Our weird relationship with nature
9 - Interviewing people (or any formal situation!)
10 - Our addiction to our little black devices
11 - Marriage
12 - Finding our 'purpose'
13 - Throwing everything away and where it goes
14 - Getting stressed
15 - Changing our sex
16 - Our relationship with our bodies
Chapter 1 - 'Our relationship with hair.' Written on the 19th May 2020.
OK. So. What is this about? Let me just briefly cover the situation as I understand it. Humans have hair. In fact, most animals have hair - right? Except like the blind mole rat, or birds when they're first born. And that's still on its way.
According to https://www.allure.com/gallery/history-of-womens-body-hair-removal - in 30,000 BC, homo sapiens already had tools to remove hair. WHAT?! And also, in 1400: 'Hairlessness is a sign of class during the Renaissance — women and goddesses in art are depicted without pubic hair.' Why is it a sign of class to have less hair? Surely the more hair you can grow - the more 'rich' you should be - as it's a bonus isn't it? They said in 1450 that women removed their pubic hair for health reasons due to getting rid of lice - OK, I'll give them that one.
What is it about this whole hair situation that gets us in such a flap? We have hair on our legs, arms, stomach, reproductive rude bits (especially), head, face, neck, feet, hands, back. EVERYWHERE. Hair on our head is OK. In fact, that's encouraged. Some might say the more hair on the head the better. A lot of girls like having as much hair growing from their head as they can, and grow it as long as it can get. Men too see it as a bonus to keep hair on their heads throughout their lives as long as possible. 'He's got a lot of hair at 75!' 'I know - good genes.' Good genes. Because hair is natural. And supposed to be there - right? When a baby is born with a lot of hair everyone is weirdly delighted - 'look at all that hair!' even though they know it'll probably grow thick and fast enough by the time they're at an age where a bald head might be cause for bullying. But still, thick hair at birth on the head is a bonus! BUT what if that same baby has a hairy back? I mean, ew? Ew?! What?
We have the weirdest relationship with hair ever, women, and people who identify as women, it's got to be said, more than men, and people who identify as men.
Our hair is actually there for good reason. Our eyebrows stop sweat dripping into our eyes. But we pluck and shave our eyebrows. Our eyebrows? How weird is that when you actually think about it. Just me? Our eyelashes are to stop dust getting into our eyes - I think? I need to check this, because I don't actually know the reason we have eyelashes, as all I've ever been told about them is that they are where we put great heaps of gloopy liquid onto each lash to make them 'look fuller' and darker to accentuate our eyes. Does work too. But that's another chapter - the makeup one. I'll try not to overlap into our relationship with our bodies being weird either, but it does cross over. If we didn't have such a weird relationship with our bodies, we wouldn't have such a weird relationship with our hair.
Which brings me onto body hair. Under arm hair, the one place where if you want to hide hair, it can mostly be hidden, unless everyone's doing a Mexican wave or doing an exaggerated yawn on a hot summer's day to put their arm around someone in the cinema (where it's dark and no one can see you). Why do we shave our arm pits? Why? That's weird right? I'm not sure why we have arm pit hair. But why get rid of it? Why's it gross if we don't? I started shaving under my arms before I even had hair! Because I was so afraid that if I let it grow it would somehow get out of control.
Then there's leg hair, back hair, arm hair - there to protect our skin I assume and keep us warm? Gross - get rid of it. You want to see bare legs, bare skin - isn't that pretty weird itself? Why's it normal to have hair on the head and less appealing to have bald patches there, but legs being bald is normal. Why don't we look at our lack of leg hair and think 'ew bald little legs - runt of the litter' or something? We are designed to have hair - men have hair to show strength and superiority (I think) - so why don't we find baldness weird. Society in the west is WEIRD.
Don't get me started on pubic hair. Our privates are arguably very important places, designed to help us reproduce, so of course nature wants to protect them! Keep them warm, covered, cosy. But nope. Pubic hair. Gross. Ew. Why?
I get that fashion changes and trends come in and out over time, but I think we had it way more right in the 70s, when freedom for hair was a lot more given - although arguably, not much.
This is a sex issue as well - people who identify as men don't have this problem half as much as people who identify as women. A lot of the issues of hair are resolved purely by just being a man. But that doesn't mean it is solved for them. Most still feel the need to shave their faces several times a week to avoid being mistaken as a homeless person or wannabe hippie (heaven forbid they'd have a beard longer than several inches). Most men still 'trim' many other areas - I do find that even more bizarre really. If you're taking the time to get rid of some of it, why not go the full hog?
All is not lost though for those little hairs working so hard to keep regrowing on our beautiful bodies. According to the same article from earlier, between 2013 and 2016, the percentage of women shaving under their arms has dropped by 20%. This makes me happy. Because hair is there - so wear it proudly. Shave it if you want - but don't hate it.
Chapter 2 - 'Drinking cow's breast milk.' Written on the 25th May 2020.
Ok. Now. This one. Has got to be one of the strangest ones of all.
Let's imagine a random animal for a second. A budgie? No too small. OK - a, walrus. How about a walrus. So. Let's just imagine. No. Actually - we don't have to imagine a walrus - using a cow is still just as weird! Let's imagine a cow for a second. Chilling on the grass. This cow is large, gentle, and - heavy.
Now we just go over to the cow. We walk over calmly and normally - maybe to say hello. Maybe from afar we shoot it down for meat. Maybe we just want to nod our head as we walk past. But no. We don't do that. Let's just imagine for a minute that we walk over to this cow and its big drooping belly, and we check the cow is in a comfortable mood. Then we kneel on the ground, in the grassy mud and we lean forwards towards the cows' enormous pink dangling udders.
And we proceed to drink from them.
That. Is. Weird.
Drinking the milk from a cow's udder. Milk, by the way, that we have had to push their baby out of the way for. The baby cow is staring at us - utterly confused. What the fuck is that human doing? Drinking my milk? I don't go up to a human mum and start suckling off her nipple - why? Because that would be weird. So why do we?
Well I guess the answer is, we don't. We don't actually suckle the milk from a cow directly from its udder. We like to distance ourselves from the weirdness of what we're actually doing by using a machine or tube or a farmer with strong hands to milk the cow for us. So all we have to see is that wonderful creamy white milk that we so long to drink, in our cereal, tea, coffee, even neat in a glass.
Drinking cows milk is a bizarre choice that humans have made. Especially because milk for infants is specifically designed for the infant of that animal it produces it for. Our breast milk is actually far better suited to us than cows' milk (that's a surprise! Human milk can be drunk by humans with no lasting damage) but do we ask women if we can use their milk for our tea? Rarely. It is becoming slightly more common - but it is still weird to most. And it is weird really - because milk is for babies.
I loved cows milk. Especially with a good galaxy bar in my teenage years - I would have a glass of milk every single day like my dad - and enjoy it. It felt healthy and nourishing. But when you actually put your mind to the big, hardy animal it has come from, and imagine going anywhere near its udders to suckle on them, you realise how weird it actually is that we drink it every day. Especially with a baby cow watching on, utterly confused, and quite hungry too.
I totally understand that in previous times, when we had to eat what we could find, animals' milk could be a means to survive and give us much-needed fill we couldn't find elsewhere. But that is all it should have ever remained - a desperate last resort. Because it doesn't belong to us, it isn't designed for us, it's not good for us and quite frankly, it's horribly cruel. Female cows are forcibly impregnated over and over and over again which can be damaging to their bodies and incredibly painful. They are immediately separated from their babies too which is traumatising to mother and baby.
If you want to know about why it's cruel, simply google any of the following: 'the truth about the dairy industry' or 'is cows milk good for humans'.
Chapter 3 - 'Not being naked (nipple standards) and wearing shoes.' Written on the 17th June 2020.
The obvious 'excuse' for this one I am frequently told is that 'humans need clothing for practical reasons, to keep warm, to protect their bodies from scrapes and to keep their skin in good condition.' And I do get that.
But when did it become so normal for people to be so outraged by a little bit of nudity? Or when did it become so abnormal for people to be naked? The thing about this one is, for the most prude amongst us, they are already squirming. Even the thought of the word 'naked' just fills people with dread, embarrassment and social ineptness. But - do these people realise that actually, we are just our naked bodies. Our naked bodies are what we are made up of - it's just that we choose to cover them up with these pieces of material people call clothes.
Why are people suddenly so embarrassed by allowing themselves to be naked? Or allowing others to be naked without judging them? Is it because we rarely see a human body nowadays because we are all so obsessed with what the material on us is shaped like, looks like, how much it's worth, what it feels like?
Being naked is socially unacceptable in most situations. Which is quite bizarre given that is exactly how we arrive in human form. Imagine being told we have to cover up our hair with hats or scarves ninety-nine percent of the time for non-religious reasons - just because we are socially expected too? What a ball ache. Plus - I quite like my hair. The same should be said for our bodies.
I don't love my body, but I certainly don't hate it - it brings me life, movement, somewhere to put my food and contains everything I need in order to function as an average animal. And yet I feel like I have to be 'ashamed' of my body in public. Why?
If I'm hot around the house, I will strip down gradually until sometimes I may be walking around topless or, even more 'rebellious' - bottomless. At times my partner will notice and let me be, but at other times I am warned out of nowhere: 'There's a neighbour outside!' So? Oh sorry, haven't they seen a naked body before? No that's not the issue is it? It's that because it's so abnormal to be naked, we as humans in today's society are seen as 'unsociable' or 'odd' if we so much as share a boob in a public place - sometimes even in the comfort of our own homes if there's a window facing the neighbours.
I like being naked. I feel freer. I feel more appreciation for my body and how many amazing things it can do for me to help me achieve my daily tasks. But even writing that I'm slightly irked by what some people might think.
Maybe it's that dreaded connotation that comes with the word 'naked' - ie sex. Naked means sex right? Wrong. Naked means - nothing really. Just, I'm hot? I want to not wear cloth on my skin today? I am exercising my right as a human by showing what I actually am underneath all this rubbish? Bare body does not mean 'THINK ABOUT SEX'. Or it shouldn't do anyway. Maybe if I was standing with some lubricant in my hand or putting myself into certain positions - I could totally get that. People read too much into a naked body. Animals are all naked. Do they all want sex right now? No. Well, actually...but do they want sex when they're collecting food? Or taking care of their young? Or keeping away from predators? No. There is too much judgement on nudity in our Western Society.
I wanted to also touch upon the nipple double standards. I know we live in a sexist society (oh sorry - don't we? Read on yes we do) but come on guys. Why is it OK for men to have their nipples on show and not women? It's NOT FAIR. Just because we all start out as girls with nipples and then the boy's reproductive bits just keep growing for a bit longer, why does that mean that the ones who don't have a penis have nipples that need to stay hidden? If you actually look at men and women's nipples, particularly when the woman's nipples are not erect, they are so similar. So what is the effing difference? But if you're thinking that our nipples stick through your shirt and you can see them more prominently think again - no offence guys but there are certain very prominent things that we can see a lot of the time too! Plus, when it's cold, your nips are on full show too mate. I'm not having a go at men here, quite often actually it's the women in my life who make me feel this way. Thankfully very few women in my life, but there are still the odd few who make me feel like (or just say outright to my face) that they think it's 'inappropriate' for me not to wear a bra in public. So sorry if I offended you with my human body part on show. How very dare I?
Finally to end this chapter, I want to suggest you take your shoes off. Go on, right now. Err...go on. I'm waiting? Ah, that's nice isn't it? Don't pretend you don't love it. According to some sources I read somewhere once, being barefoot is actually incredibly good for our mental health. It re-centres us to be at one with the earth, I suppose by having a direct connection to the ground beneath our feet. The world is constantly spinning, and even though we don't feel it - I do believe there's a lot to be said for being part of that motion directly - by literally having our feet firmly on the ground. It calms us, soothes us and connects us to the earth - all of which are great relaxers, and are kind to our brains.
I won't lie and pretend I haven't had many a cut, spike or splinter from being barefoot over the years, but the more barefoot you are, the more your feet toughen up and it's so worth it to be able to be free on your feet for some of your life. Do it. It's great. And while we're on that note, be naked. I'm sick of being made to feel ashamed of my body. If the whole world was a nudist park, I would be one. Sadly, in this western society, I still want a social life, and an easy life without restrictions - and not to get arrested. What a crime that would be.
Chapter 10 - 'Our addiction to our little black devices.' Written on the 19th May 2020.
Now I don't know about you, but I for one am addicted to my little black device that doesn't usually stray too far from my hand, even my pocket might be a bit far away. It's a guilty feeling, but it's true. The majority of us these days are addicted to our phones.
Today I decided to have a digital detox in one form or another, and cut myself off from my iPhone. I have an iPhone 5s, and in today's standards, (when on average people replace their phone every two years), my phone is ancient. It's very slow, its storage is always almost completely full and the camera looks like someone's just breathed on it with bread-crumb breath. Anyway - the point is, my iPhone is not special or new but I am still obsessed with it.
I decided to cut myself off from it for today and see how long I actually get on OK without it. Well, considering today I woke up at 4am, that might be an unfair challenge. But it's now 5:09am and I am still alive! Amazing. BUT I have already been through that horror of anxiety we all face when even considering being parted with our safety blanket for more than a couple of minutes. At the mere thought of it, I became nervous. My palms even started to sweat a little - what the hell has happened here?
As someone with mental health issues anyway, the thought of not having that little device next to me playing something in my ear all day, is a terrifying thought. I usually play youtube videos, audiobooks or the radio constantly throughout the day, pausing only when I am working or having a conversation with my other (currently we're in lockdown so those are the only two situations to justify being away from the phone right now, as in - no cinema, theatre, socialising etc!).
Youtube videos keep me calm and focused. With something there to listen to, I don't have to worry that I will have to listen to my own brain, in case it thinks something I don't like. Which is MAD isn't it? Maybe it's more my problem because I have anxiety and depression and therefore crave a distraction that will surely keep me away from it all.
But this is definitely not the case. Not at all. The majority of my friends have the same problem. Apart from when they are at work (and even then some are still checking facebook under the desk), they do not risk going without their phone.
My sister lost her phone once at her 30th birthday party, (it was actually in my back pocket being kept safe at the time - something I wasn't aware of - I swear!) and in that moment when she discovered it had accidentally gone home with me and she wouldn't be getting it back imminently, she said at the time that it had ruined her entire evening. Imagine that! A 30th birthday party, seeing friends, family, surrounded by love, dancing, music, drink all night - but when it came down to it at the end of the night - the only thing that mattered to follow it, was a little black device in her hand where she could scroll through the nights' blurry antics on people's social media stories, check the photos that had been taken (to reminisce already or check they were still there?) and check for any messages from those same people saying they had had a good night. She did admit afterwards by the way, that she found it incredible how addicted she was to her phone and it did shock her. But she is not the only one.
If I take a friend out for dinner, they might point out to me that they aren't going to text their friend back if they receive a message, because 'they know I don't like that.' I don't like being second to a black device - no I do not. I am here, I'm real. Yes there is a real person behind that device, but they are probably surrounded by other people at their end, ignoring them just the same. Why are they taking time away from me spending time with someone who is right in front of me, when they're not even there?
It is scary. It scares me a lot. It's now 5:19am and oh my god, I am still alive. I wonder how long I can cope without my phone today. Unfortunately I will have to turn it on around 10/12, because it is also a work phone (I run my own business from home) and I will need to have it there in case a client has a question for me, or there is an emergency in one of my classes, or I need to contact a member of staff. But ideally, that would be it - a work phone. In my office, never to leave except on work errands. I even bought a pay as you go phone to replace my 'work phone' with pleasure - just a simple one with a camera and no apps or anything. I was so excited. But somehow, I never got round to setting it up...
So, why is it weird that humans do this? I suppose because, like the rest of the list, it sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. But it is just bizarre that we rely so heavily on this little black device for, well - what? That's even more puzzling. Our news updates - instantly - we want to be in the know of course. Understandable - even though, why do we want to be in the know instantly? Especially about news stuff. I think sometimes we'd all rather not know wouldn't we? To take photos, to document our life in front of all our friends. Is that weird? It's so far removed from our lives when we began as humans that it's impossible to say if that's weird or normal in my eyes. To look things up, for knowledge - fair game, but again, I don't know about you, but (as well as the occasional intelligent, educational things), I'm mostly looking things up like how old is Jodie Comer, or Labrador puppies. Is it a distraction? Is that all it's there for and why it's so - all-consuming? If so, why? What do we want to be distracted from? Personally mine is my fear of anxiety and depression seeping into my brain if I leave it to its own devices for more than a second, but that can't be the case for everyone - or is everyone in today's society so anxious to be without their phone because they're scared of their own thoughts that they stick to it like glue and then become more anxious because they have no brain space to breathe and the vicious circle continues?
Don't get me wrong. I slag off this little device constantly. But that doesn't mean I don't use it daily - for podcasts, music, radio shows, interviews on youtube to keep me 'busy, distracted' as I've mentioned. But also a map to see where to drive to, a workout app to stay fit with, a messaging device to speak to my loved ones (particularly during a pandemic where we aren't allowed to meet!), a clock, an alarm to remind me to do things. Is that where the list runs dry? Because if that's the case why can't I just use my laptop to access the search engine, play music etc, get an A-Z, go for a run and call my friends and family on a landline? Because it's not as easy. So why would you? I don't know about you, but the idea of being able to live my life without this little device is so much more of an exhilarating thought that having to live with it every day. I don't feel like I get to live. And it's just unnatural for us. We aren't meant to be living our lives through our phones. But sadly, we are. Me included. Is it in our power to change it? Society is a very powerful thing. It's very hard to go back when everyone in your life is going forwards with it. I went out for a walk the other day and left my phone behind. I can't have been out for more than an hour, but when I got home I still had messages from two different friends and one missed call, checking if I was OK because I hadn't been online on WhatsApp in a while or replied to their messages. No wonder we're all so stressed! I'm not blaming my friends.
The fear is that it is only going to get worse. The apple watch, the rumoured chips inside our heads to access the internet at all times, the scary Doctor Who ear devices that turn us into cyber men if we're not careful. Maybe I'm unnecessarily suspicious and cynical. But then again, maybe not.
I already feel like I've achieved a lot more today because I don't have that niggly little device distracting me. Then again, maybe that's unfair on the poor iPhone. It's only ever aimed to please, right?
I don't have any solutions to this problem either. But I do know that it isn't a coincidence that when I go on holiday and purposely leave my phone switched off in the hotel room whilst I enjoy my holiday, that I feel freer. I shall end on a brilliant quote I once saw (can you guess) on instagram:
'When the phone was tied to a wire, humans were free.'