Grace's Guide to Personal Hygiene (a book review + stories)

I recently read 'A Girl’s Guide to Personal Hygiene: true stories, illustrated', by Tallulah Pomeroy. It was gifted to me by the babes at Scribe, but that in no way affects my opinion that it is absolutely hilarious, and totally bang on in a lot of allegedly disgusting ways. 

'Women aren't as ladylike as people would like to imagine. Using secrets collected from hundreds of them, this exquisitely disgusting illustrated book rewrites our definition of femininity.

When artist Tallulah Pomeroy asked people to anonymously submit anecdotes about the weird, unruly things they did with their bodies, she was inundated. From tampons and trapped wind to ear wax and pubes, stories flowed in from a community of hilarious, radically honest women, who, by admitting to things they had thought were shameful, no longer had to feel ashamed. 

Now illustrated, these stories take the female anatomy as far away from the male gaze as it is possible to get, in a celebration of women's bodies that is gleeful, gross, subversive, and beautiful, all at once.'
(source: Goodreads)

Basically, the book is a collection of stories which read more like confessions, from various women about their uglier experiences or habits that they’ve been taught not to share with the general public, or even those closest to them – because they’re gross, and ‘unladylike’. 

I absolutely adored and ATE UP this book. It's got all my favourite ingredients: taboos, TMI, tits, and beautiful honesty. My favourite true story? Probably the woman who emptied her moon cup into a river while she was camping, and watched the teeny fishies eat up her bloody discharge; she writes 'I had lots of profound thoughts about the 'circle of life''.

Now, who wants to read some of my own 'less than ladylike' tales, that I would definitely consider submitting to this fabulous book's sequel (which needs to happen)? 

Here they are... 

Heineken don’t do pee, but if they did…

The summer of 2014, I moved in with my then-boyfriend and his two flatmates (a couple), for a few weeks. The flat they lived in was a simple two bedroom, with a huge living space... and one bathroom. This was usually fine; the flatmates’ schedules aligned so nobody was banging on the door needing a shower while the other one took a pre-work shit, but then one grim morning I woke desperate for a wee. One half of the couple was in the bathroom, and the shower was on. My boyfriend was asleep. I tried to hold it in, but my bladder and bowels have never been known for their patience. I eventually found myself squatting uncomfortably in their ‘entry space’ (read as: the pokey jacket hole by the front door), pissing into a scratched and smeared pint glass one of them had no doubt brought home from the pub one night. Nobody caught me. I then poured it down their sink, and (I think) filled it with soapy water. Never told a soul. 

IKEA-n’t even.

Second year of uni, my friends and I were so excited to move into actual HOUSES off campus, and start our new lives as semi-independent adults. We were so excited, we obviously went to IKEA and spent far too much money on adorable embroidered cushions, chic shelves and quirky ice cream scoops. I had a nasty cold at the time; my throat was slick with phlegm and I had the most delightful squelchy rattle of a cough, too. I sneezed, just as we walked into the first section of the IKEA maze, and as I took my hand away from my mouth I noticed it was full of snot. Like, literally, a couple of gnarly green globules. I'd somehow hacked them up! 

Now, I don’t know about you, but for me it’s extremely rare to actually cough or sneeze up any excess mucus, so of course I was chuffed to bits, but there was nowhere to put the slime ball I’d just expelled. No bins anywhere (we weren’t at the ‘practical home wares’ section yet, we were still in the ‘cutesy and completely needless home wares’ bit), and no handy tissue or even little paper bag lurking in a corner. So I did what anyone would do – I held it in my hand for about 15 minutes as we walked through the maze, before washing it off in the loos. Mmm. 

A hairy situation.

Ever since I was about thirteen, I’ve had ingrown hairs on my bikini line. It’s only in the last few years they’ve also sprung up on (or rather, remained stuck inside the skin on) my legs. Because my immune system isn’t the best (don’t criticise though, it’s been very busy in recent years, I guess it’s earned a break) these ingrown hairs and sore spots stick around for ages after they’ve been plucked and scratched at – and they often become boils. I’ve tried everything. I’ve spoken to my GP (all 4 of them), I’ve used every cream and gel and oil that’s been prescribed to me or recommended by my friends with the clearest, most sublime skin, but they still crop up and cause me pain for several days before eventually oozing out their pussy (as in, pus) and often bloody fluids, and then leaving me scarred and marked indefinitely. It’s only recently, on social media and in the underwear modelling world I have landed myself in, I’ve realised this isn’t just me. Other women – and men – struggle with this! It’s like it’s… normal!? Imagine that. 

Here’s the shocker, folks: women don’t have to be ladylike. We can be as ‘gross’ as we please, in fact, it’s not even gross, it’s human. Why should men be the only ones who get to speak about their bum fluff, B.O and stingy wee? Why can't we celebrate our spots popping, and chew off our toenails? 

See, I’m always asking the important questions on this blog.

Now please do comment, or tweet me, with any stories like mine; let’s seem garish and gruesome together, until others realise it’s not that at all. It’s normal.

Support your online indie bookshops, or the publisher Scribe, by ordering this excellent lil book from them, and not the big boys on the high street. Thx. Here are the links to it on…

A GREAT READ (aff link; buy via these guys if you fancy not just supporting a family-owned business but also giving me a few pennies at no cost to you! Cheers!)

Any more I should be including? Hit me up in comments or via tweet!


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