***WARNING – Post contains adult information and topics******
While at Beauty School I meet an awesome lady called Crystal who owns and operates C & A Beauty By Design who I now exclusively go to for all my beauty essentials like nails (that’s her work in the photo), waxing and advice on skin care products. Anyway last night there was a social event here on Buderim for To Hold & To Have Jewellers which both Crystal and I were attending. I agreed to be Crystals walking, talking and socialising advertisement for her business so she did my nails, hair and markup for the night and whenever people asked about them I handed out business cards.
Crystal has been doing my waxing and nails for about 6 months now and she’s the first beautician I’ve ever been to who understands about both Autism and Pain Management, which is why I’m a constant repeat client. Last night was the first time she’s every done hair and makeup on me and like her beautician work she explained what she was doing, made sure I was comfortable and she made sure to keep the feed back loop open so I could say “brake” and she’d stop and let me regroup. While getting the hair and makeup done we were discussing the hideous teenage years and I was telling her how I was the classic ugly ducking, who’s turning into the beautiful swan. I had coke-bottom bottle thick glasses, bad teeth with silver braces, I was to tall in primary school and to short in high school, I’ve got small boobs, a large ass, my hair was cut short for swim training and my skin is so pail I get sunburn from moonlight. Add to that the fact I didn’t start dating till I was in my late 20s because I have social communication issues and I could never figure out dress codes or flirting and you get the picture. Oddly because I treated the guys the same way I had always treated them they were comfortable spending time with me, which inevitable meant the “It” girls would try to be friends with me so I could set them up with sexy-guy x,y or z and in the process made me fell like more of a freak (what was wrong with me that I wasn’t like the other girls????).
This got us talking about all the shit that no one mentions if you are female and autistic so please follow me through the looking glass into my world of “shit no one talks about”.
- Appearance – the world is unfortunately per-programmed with a rather narrow view of what a “female” should look like. A female should have well maintained hair on her head, body hair on legs/underarms/vagina wax off, eye brows also shaped via waxing and understand the every changing rules of fashion. This takes a lot of time, effort and focusing on yourself. Autistic minds are not programmed to focus on ourselves nor do we tend to worry how our appearance looks to others we just want to be comfortable. If you don’t brush your hair because it huts, don’t wear “appropriate attire” because you can’t find something you like the texture of , don’t like deodorant because you dislike the feel/smell and so on things do not go well in your life. If you’ve actually managed to get a job if you don’t have the correct office appearance you will be called into HR for a lecture on how your personal appearance is currently unacceptable according to company rules (often they are unwritten rules because females should just know what “corporate attire” means) and if you don’t fix your appearance you will be fired. Social situations are just as bad, there is nothing worse when you hate being the centre of attention than to turn up to an event and realise that the room is full of Barbie Dolls and you look like a Teddy Bear.
- Bras – Bras never fucking fit properly and they are made of material that is often abrasive on your skin. The underwires dig in to your ribcage and they feel like they restrict your breathing. Add to that the straps constantly slip off your shoulder so you are always fishing around trying to loop them back up and rearranging your bra because it’s moved and you get why I hate the fucking things. However society dictates that it’s NOT appropriate for a female to go to work, a date, church, social event or lets face it outside if she is not wearing a bra. Autism makes me acutely aware of how something feels on my skin and sits on my body, anything that feels tight, restrictive or abrasive drives me bonkers but I’m still made to wear a bra to work or to social events and I hate it. If I can get away with not wearing a bra I won’t wear one.
- Menstruation (your period) – For guys reading this – imaging you have uncontrollable diarrhoea and you still have to function normally so you are made to wear something like a nappy inside your underwear to absorb the shit constantly oozing out of your body and you have to change it every couple of hours day & night for 5 to 9 days per month every month from the time you’re around 12 till you’re about 65 (now you get why women hate getting their period). Thanks to endometrial cancer I no longer get my period and I thank the goddess every month because I hated getting my period. My period was incredibly heavy to the point I could have a maxi-pad completely full in under 2 hours. I had points in time where it was so heavy it filled the maxi-pad then ran down my legs and filled my boots with blood before I could get to a bathroom to change the maxi-pad. Period Absorption Pads have gotten better with technology but they are still horrid and then there is the ikk factor. One of my autism traits is that I hate the feeling of being “unclean”, I don’t like to sweat, I don’t like anything under my nails and I detested the feeling and knowledge that there was a blood soaked pad between my legs. Having to change my pad would make me feel physically ill and because I have a heightened sense of smell I could constantly smell blood (gage factor) and my brain was convinced everyone around me could to. Tampons were not an option for me mainly due to the heavy bleeding but also the whole process of shoving them up your vagina then having to pull them back out and replace them was not something I could handle doing. The other symptoms of really sore boobs which a bra just made worse, strange food cravings not fun when you have autism food issues and mood swings which tend to unbalance even a neurotypical brain and you get a glimpse of my hell from age 11 to age 33.
- SEX – ok now I have your attention! Sex isn’t just the physical placing of a penis in a vagina or where ever else ticks your fancy, there is a whole range of little intimate things that happen between people who are about to have sex, are having sex or have had sex. Hell before you even get to the sex there is the whole flirting, body language, touching, kissing and what not. My autism means I do not read body language, facial expressions or hear tone changes so flirting with me is USELESS as my x-lovers found out. I’m the sort of lady who a direct approach of “I think you are really sexy want to go to dinner” is about the only way I’ll know you are interested. Same with sex GASP WHAT! Unless I know you really well I’m not going to get the “subtle” hints that you want to bonk my brains out but society doesn’t teach you that it’s ok to say “I find you really sexy and I’m now really horny want to have sex” and lets face it in the middle of a hot and heavy snog your partner is unlikely to want to TALK. But unless you do talk to me and let me know you want to get naked and start bonking there is a good chance I’ll flip out and the snogging session will not end well. Not sure about other autistic ladies but my skin, sense of smell and sense of taste are hyper sensitive so sex for me is tricky. Smokers are defiantly out, guys who’ve been drinking Bourbon make me want to vomit, don’t run your fingers down my ribs as I dissolve into giggle (apparently rather off putting) and OMG DO NOT TOUCH MY FEET EVER. There is also the small problem of my over activate brain, which unfortunately is hard wired into my sexual response system so no matter how sexy a guy is if he sounds dumb I’m instantly turned off. Post sex is just a tricky. Remember that statement about disliking feeling “unclean” yeah apparently leaping out of bed to go have a shower right after sex is considered insulting (ops) but how do you politely say “It’s not a reflection on your ability I just need to be clean” without sounding like a nut bag. Oh and I have some odd things like the sheets must be cotton and clean, wrist watches that tick seriously bug me, I don’t like sleeping without underwear on which somehow manages to irritate guys, housemates are fine so long as they’re not at your place while I am and if your kitchen is a mess I’m probably going to run away and never come back.
- Beauty Maintenance – this links directly back to my first point (Appearance). Looking haggard, with dry skin, knotted hair, shaggy legs/armpits and dirty nails is socially taboo and considered unattractive, which results in things like unemployment and social isolation. So we ladies are expected to have a beauty maintenance routine. At the minimum you’re expected to moisturise your skin, shave your legs/underarms, wash and brush your hair and keep your nails clean. I have extreme skin sensitivity and smell sensitivity so finding soap, exfoliator, shampoo/conditioner and moisturiser I’m able to use is challenging. The more extreme beauty maintenance routine involves waxing large chunks of your body hair off and having your nails shaped, coated for hardness and painted, this is done by a professional (like Crystal). My autism means I’m really NOT ok with people in my personal space let alone stripping naked so they can smear hot wax on me then rip it off taking my body hair with it. Nails oh boy oh boy oh boy I’d had acrylic nails done at a cheep quick shop for a Christmas party, which took 15 min start to finish and I then went and vomited from the stress of holding it together while I had them done. 3 days later Crystal found me sobbing in the ladies room at beauty school because my nails still hurt but I was to afraid to go back and ask for them to be removed. The next day I went to Crystal to get the horrid acrylic (fake) nails removed and it took her from 09:00 to 15:00 because I kept freaking out about having her do stuff to my nails and she stayed nice and calm through several melt downs. Since she was willing to spend vast amounts of time making sure I was OK while getting my nails done I timidly booked to get my underarms waxed because I hate shaving but I also hate hairy underarms as my brain is convinced the hair makes them smelly. Since then I have become a regular for nails, eyebrow wax and underarms wax because Crystal is amazing at understanding my issue and not making me feel like I have to hide my nervous habits.
- Makeup – in todays world makeup has become an evil necessity and most women wear it daily. Makeup can range from simple like tinted moisturiser, lipgloss and maybe mascara to the full monty of skin primer, colour correctors, foundation, setting powder, contouring & highlighting powers, blusher (2 or 3 shades) eye primer, eye shadows (up to 10 colours), eye liner, mascara, fake lashes, eyebrow definition kits, lip liner, lipstick and then stay all day spray (not kidding it exists). It can take up to 2 hours every morning for some ladies to do just their makeup. Unfortunately makeup almost always has stuff to make it smell nice and needs to be applied with sponges & brushes. As I’ve said my autism makes me smell sensitive and tactile sensitive so makeup is a fucking nightmare for me. Having been a bridesmaid way to many times, a pin up model at one point and an in-house model at beauty school for fellow class mates I’ve had my makeup professionally done way to much and hated it every time. Crystal is the first makeup artist to ever understand how stressful the whole makeup thing is for me and for once I did not hate the entire experience. Last night Crystal actually let me sniff all the product she was going to use to make sure I was ok with them, she let me fiddle with brushes and one I flatly said nope don’t like the feel so she found another one and she would put something on then do a little wait and see to ensure I wasn’t going to react and start clawing my face off. But most women with autism do not have someone like Crystal who will spend the time making sure they are ok so something like your own wedding become possibly the worst day of your life. Add the daily pressure of looking professional or attractive by using products and equipment that make you cringe and you start to understand the hell of trying to live in a neurotypicla world when you are female and autistic.