Confident, self-assured and somewhat flirtatious, my personality is Marmite to women. You either love me or think the world would be better off without my existence sullying it.
When a five-foot-nothing girl strolls into a room, cracking inappropriate jokes with scathing sarcasm and forces you to notice her, it’s understandable that some people are turned off by my awkward and unintentional arrogance. Yet as innocent as my intentions are, I’ve always had an outstanding ability to rub some women up the wrong way. I’m one of those females that girls love to hate.
In secondary school (unhelpfully, an all girls grammar), I remember a scrawny classmate turning round with a malicious look in her eyes as the words “I heard you slept with someone’s boyfriend“, venomously rolled off her tongue. Somehow, a rumour originating in my home town had spread thirty miles from its origin to my English lesson. After a brief grilling, it turned out that I had no connection to the boy in question, romantic or otherwise; but an unbeknownst aspect of my personality made me a fitting character to play the role of home-wrecker.
You could put this down to the gossip-hungry nature of teenage girls, but then again at 21 I became the subject of a mislead social media hate campaign. An acquaintance seven years my senior had taken a disliking to me after I infiltrated a mutual friendship group all too easily. Identifying me as the “fat one”, my established presence at house parties and pub gatherings over the years had reached boiling point for her – and one morning I awoke to a string of abusive comments left on my Instagram photos, vindictively composed Facebook posts and more “have you seen what she’s been tweeting about you?” messages than I care to recall. Two years on, and I’m still none the wiser as to what I did wrong.
You know when you came home from primary school crying because a girl said your brown velcro shoes from Clarks were heinous, and your mum would quip that “they’re just jealous”? Well that’s a lot harder to tell yourself when you’re desperately trying to suppress your adult ego.
You get those who over-compensate for their lack of charisma with money, or those who mask their underwhelming masculinity with alarming virility. Well, I compensate for my lack of height with, an arguably too loud, personality.
I’ll walk into a bar and a man will crassly joke that I can’t be older than sixteen. A friend of a friend will call me “cute“. I’ll be in my office and someone will jovially ask if I can reach the mugs above the kitchen sink. I’ll be in a crowd at a gig and someone will ask me what the view’s like down there. I’ll be purposely repositioned beside an uncomfortably tall gentleman in social situations for a foolproof source of entertainment; and so on, and so forth.
So in retaliation, I’ve grown an overtly loud personality. However, to my detriment, it seems I’ve inadvertently adopted a somewhat threatening presence along the way.
On first glance – with my juvenile face and small stature – you’d think I was the easily manipulated timid type, and then I open my mouth. How can someone who takes up so little space demand so much attention?
Without a fraction of a doubt, the girls who love to hate me so passionately are the girls who lack in character. I know… That sounds hideously arrogant, doesn’t it?
I could sit here, writing as I am in my great white shark pyjama top (age 12-13), and relay all the reasons why my steadily growing club of ‘haters’ have me all wrong. Or, I can finally resign myself to not caring about those who act as the Dementors of society – sucking joy from all that’s good and surviving off mere morsels of their foe’s fleeting unhappiness.
Ironically, the most frustrating aspect of being a Marmite Girl is not the unavoidable tension with my adversaries, but my incessant need to justify myself to family and friends. Attempting to trigger their sympathy, I’d phone my parents after falling out with a girl, but would instead be met with the question, “what did you do to annoy them?”
It’s that cruel assumption that’s the real silent killer.
To the teenagers who grasp onto the glimmer of hope that cliques disintegrate on your final day of compulsory education: I’m sorry to tell you that the Mean Girls still exist in your twenties. But what did Mean Girls teach us, if not that fetch is never going to happen? We learnt that the Regina George’s of the world always get their comeuppance, when they’re finally mowed down by a bus – figuratively and literally.
So thank you to the girls besmirching my name in group chats on Whatsapp, office kitchen conversations and over dimly lit dinners, because just like the Marmite slogan goes (sort of), love me, or hate me, at least I know you can’t forget me.
Images via Giphy.