Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Where Burning Man Took Me (Part One)

Repent, It's Tutu Tuesday by foundimagination
I came back from Burning Man feeling completely unattractive.

Which was the opposite of what I'd expected.  I'd read and heard that people felt at their most attractive at Burning Man.  That, surrounded by the knowledge that it is ok to wear what you want, be who you want, and not be judged, people are sexier than ever, more confident than ever, and that it's that very self-confidence and personal expression that makes them their most attractive self.

I'd thought I'd come home feeling like I hadn't cared how I looked.  That it was ok to not care about what I wore, and that I would feel like it didn't matter.

I remember, before I left, talking to my co-worker who'd been and he asked me what costumes I was planning on taking.  I told him I'm not a costume person and that I really wasn't worried about it.  I was just planning on wearing normal clothes.  Or maybe a tutu on "Tutu Tuesday".

He mentioned that he thought I might feel a little left out, or maybe out of place if I didn't have a costume, but I told him I wasn't worried about it.  I had some rubber duckie silk pyjamas that I was planning on wearing to keep the sun off and that I was happy enough with that.

Because, really, I'm not a costume person.  Particularly.  I love to act a part, and if you hand me a costume for a costume party I'll totally wear it and ham it up, but I'm not someone who spends months putting together a kick-ass Halloween costume.  I'll usually throw on an orange shirt and some pumpkin socks and call it a day.... now gimme candy!

When I got to Burning Man, all my plans about what I'd wear sort of fell apart.  Those first few days the things I'd brought that I thought would work in the hot weather, I just sweated in.  And felt like I was going to die in.  At home, when it's hot, I wrap myself in a sarong and I'm good.  Naked, but covered.  I'd sewed velcro into a sarong so I could do the same at Burning Man and not have to worry about it coming undone.

The sarong was too hot.

Being naked, I still would have been too hot, but still.

I remember seeing my camp mates wearing shorts and bikinis and I thought, yes... bikini, that.  So I ended up putting on my bikini, and at that point I didn't give a (swear word) how I looked, because I was just focussing on surviving the heat.

Our second day, it was Tutu Tuesday (unofficially of course) so I threw a tutu on over my bikini when I went to meet my friend and then again, when we went to get ice.  (Oh right, and then I overheated myself and, yet again, didn't give two hoots what I was wearing because I just wanted to not be so hot.

I did manage to head out that night and I didn't wear anything more than my bikini and tutu.  And I was still too hot, but at least I felt like the tutu was in the spirit of things... If slightly itchy against my over-heated, red skin.

The next day, when I decided I had to get out and about no matter the heat, and I went to see if I could find Jay where he'd said he was volunteering, I threw my rubber duckie pyjama top on to keep the sun off.

And I felt stupid.

People loved the duckies.  "Duckies!"  "So cute"  "Rubber Duckie!"  But I felt frumpy.

Frumpy and unattractive and stupid.

But I was still struggling with heat, so I figured it was better to have some protection.  When I was out that night, I had the top on and it was kind of neat because it helped some people recognize me.  "Hey, Canada!" and I'd look and it would be the guy we'd met earlier, who only knew it was us because of the pyjamas.

But, feeling frumpy and unattractive when you're at Burning Man really sucks.  It sucks more than feeling this way at home because you're surrounded by young, fit, firm, toned, half-naked gorgeous women.

And you're surrounded by these completely attractive women and you see the men looking at them.  Appreciating them.  Liking how they look.

You don't see them liking how I looked.

Sure, I did have one guy approach me to talk to me and it was probably more about me making eye contact and smiling than it was about how I looked sitting in my tutu, bikini top and duckie pyjamas, but this isn't about what was actually happening, this is about how I felt.  How I perceived things.  And how I perceived things is that I was one of the least attractive women there.

I did not have interesting makeup.  Unless you could the two days that Mark's wife did my makeup and gave me sparkles and shine.  And whether it was me feeling more confident in those moments, or me looking more attractive or interesting in those moments, those are the times I saw guys looking my way, smiling.  Or a guy or two at least.  More accurately.

I did not have an interesting outfit.

Other than the (I'm sorry to put it this way, but this is how it felt) creepy older men who told me that my breasts had turned them on, no one noticed me.  I wasn't interesting to look at and I wasn't attractive enough to look at.

I knew I didn't look good, and I didn't like feeling that way.

Was it Wednesday, or Thursday that I set out on my own for the morning?  And I knew I wanted to do something about what I was wearing, or not wearing, so I went to one of the camps that were giving away clothes and costumes.  I found a dress that I liked, long, simple, black, and a shirt that I liked, white, cut off sleeves, cotton, and a bandana I could use to keep the dust out (my professional dust mask I'd bought was, ironically, too hot to wear in a dust storm.)

I put on the new clothes and I felt a little better.  Still hot, but that wasn't going to change.

The skirt, it turned out, was hard to ride in.  And the top was still a bit on the warm side during the day, but I felt like I was more comfortable with how I looked.

As the week went on I ended up with some random things wrapped around my wrist.  Wristbands, a necklace gift, and some string I'd rescued from the ground.  These things, too, made me feel like I was looking a bit more how I felt, somewhere inside.

There are a million different styles of dress to be seen at Burning Man, but in my mind I broke it down into a few categories.  The Mad Max leather and dust look, the Sparkles and Fur raver look, the Not Quite A Hippy flower child with a twist look, the I'm Wearing What Works for me and I'll Wear It At Home too look, the I'm Cute and so are my Boobs naked look, and the I'm a Sexy Woman without having to be a slut look.  Among others.

I'm at heart on the flower child side.  I'm, at heart, attracted to the Mad Max men.  I would love to be a Sexy Woman, but I'm not.

And that's what ended up hurting.

The morning of the last day, Jay and I went to find the gal he'd travelled with.

She was adorable.  This pert, perky little thing with the cutest breasts, bare and matching her personality.  A short little school girl's kilt and a workman's belt.  Short dark hair and pretty eyes.  Who wouldn't want to sleep with her?

We biked away and Jay asked me why I'd gone all "jealous and quiet."

I wasn't jealous at all.  And I told him so.

"I'm not jealous, I just feel so unattractive here, and meeting her just solidified all that for me.  I'm not jealous at all, I'm sad."

And I started to cry.

At Burning Man, I'm ugly.

My body is fat.

My legs are fat and short and stumpy.

My breasts are large, but floppy and they overwhelm my figure.

I have jowls under my neck, and my face is round.

I'm not 20.

I'm not toned.

I'm not perky, or petite, or adorably cute.

I have cellulite on my thighs.

My stomach isn't flat anymore.

When you take me out of clothes and put me in a bikini, it's not anything anyone would want to look at.

And, yes, it's been hard seeing the pictures taken of me there.

Even with clothes, at Burning Man, I'm not anything anyone would want to look at.

Jay was attractive.  Jay looked hot.  Sexy.  Had I not known him, I would still have thought so.

Jay was also the only man to show any interest in me in a physical way.  And Jay has always been good at complimenting me when I look good.  And Jay didn't compliment me at Burning Man.

Sure, I felt attractive with him.  Attractive to him, obviously, or we wouldn't have smooched, but I left Burning Man feeling really really unattractive, and it was a hard thing to face.

I still felt sexual... Jay was the reason for that.  But attractive?  Not at all.  The very opposite.  I felt horrible about how I look, and I still do.


Anonymous Elliott said...

I'm sorry you are feeling this way. I know how you feel. I do. I wish the years weren't taking their toll. It's hard to see young, hard, fit bodies and not feel sad.

I play hockey with guys in their 20's (I'm over 40) and it makes me sad to see them and then look down at my own body. Life and responsibilities take their toll.

You're probably like me...much harder on yourself than how others see you. I'm willing to bet that many people enjoy looking at you.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 1:51:00 pm  
Blogger Victoria said...

"I'm willing to bet that many people enjoy looking at you."

That's probably the sweetest, kindest thing that's been said to me in a long while. Thank you. It made me smile and that means a lot.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 9:56:00 pm  
Anonymous Elliott said...

You're welcome. I'm glad you smiled.

Thursday, October 17, 2013 7:55:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...


Thursday, October 17, 2013 8:09:00 pm  
Blogger GaryDean said...

You need to stop looking back at yourself and imagining what others may see. You just gotta live and love who you are. No one upon this gorgeous planet is close enough to perfect that you should be so judgemental upon yourself, and those who imagine they are, are actually the furthest away. People notice you more for less, whenever you imagine yourself less. But when you live with what you have and shine, then others will love you for your blossom, regardless your outfit ... You just gotta live. Be Awesome!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 5:56:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

Awww, thank you! Well said! :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 8:12:00 am  
Anonymous SunshineGirl said...

I'm almost relieved to hear that someone else had similar thoughts/experiences with feelings of attractiveness (or lack thereof) while at BM, but sad that you felt that way. I also tend toward the flower child look, but not in the sexy way that many women manage to pull off. I just got my ticket for this year, I'm trying to figure out ahead of time how to be happy and comfortable with myself in a sea of infinitely better-looking girls.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 10:08:00 pm  
Blogger Victoria said...

Hi :) I know exactly how you feel because you writing this makes me feel relieved and sad too.

Here's what I'll tell you... and then try to remember myself. "Better looking" is just a mirage. It's a false image. It's just... window dressing. So what if someone's.... younger, thinner, curvier, taller, shorter, blonder, whatever you think you'd rather be... you are YOU and I don't even know you but I'm telling you that you're amazing and there are a sh*t ton of people who will think you're sexy and attractive (and a crap load of people who look at you and wish they were as good looking as you are)

So... I'll try to own what I have if you will try to own what you have.

Let's go this year and be confident and sexy in our own bodies, not wishing we were in someone else's bodies!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 10:16:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! I understand deeply what you mean by these words.
What I wave to say is very simple, almost crude, but it's also liberating: "If you don't like the way you look, CHANGE IT."
Being someone who have gone through all of this myself,I can tell you from personal experience, and a lot of research, it is possible.
If it is important to you, do it! Learn how to diet, begin exercising and you will see how everything can be transformed. It also feels great. I know countless cases of people who were out of shape, of all ages mind you, and I see the results they have.
It's all a question of decision and will. Hope I have helped,

Sunday, July 27, 2014 10:34:00 pm  
Blogger Victoria said...


*internet high five*

Monday, July 28, 2014 8:30:00 pm  
Blogger Todd said...

It only matters how you feel on the inside. There is always people that will be attracted to you. But if you keep a positive feeling on the inside it will show on the outside. Just be confident in yourself and everything else will work out. You have to remember the so called attractive people you talk about have the same feelings as you. They may be be thinking about themselves the same way. We are all human. Just love yourself! Smile this guy loves the way you look and I have never seen you.

Friday, August 15, 2014 2:10:00 am  
Anonymous Skeptickle said...

Thank you so much for posting this. It is an amazingly raw and vulnerable description of loneliness and frustration at Burning Man.

As a man, I constantly assume that every woman at Burning Man gets all the attention she needs to feel attractive, and it's only the men who are feeling ashamed and undesirable.

I am incredibly grateful that you posted this. It means a lot to me to know that we all go through this, that we all have those times at Burning Man where things just don't click and the environment feels sadly alienating.

Good luck, see you out in the dust!

Friday, August 15, 2014 2:34:00 pm  
Blogger Victoria said...

Thanks Todd. All great points for me to remember, it's only me that has to love and feel confident in me! :D

Skeptickle, I'm so glad this connected with you, awesome. It does help to know we're not alone in going through this, eh? Good luck to you too and see you out there, come give me a hug! ;)

Friday, August 15, 2014 4:59:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, I can only see your blig pic, and I think you are fucking hot. Get over it, and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014 9:54:00 am  
Anonymous NewDeal said...

"Get over it" is a little harsh and not helpful, but I do agree with Anonymous above. You look quite fit!

Also, keep in mind that at least some of the people you saw who looked toned do it by partying year-round, not by spending hours in the gym. Chemicals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner--combined with hours of dancing every day--is a great way to stay trim, but there's something to be said for a more balanced life.

Sunday, September 21, 2014 8:01:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

*giggle* I never actually saw that Anon comment posted, so... uh... Thanks anon?

Well that makes me a little sad NewDeal, but fair point... and yeah, it is a decent picture of me, if a few years ago... (look at me already trying to be mean to myself again, argh!) Maybe I could do the hours of dancing every day and not the chemicals ;)

Sunday, September 21, 2014 9:32:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can confirm from the only picture I see of you that you're a raging hot beautiful creature. I can see how being around so much sexiness can make one self-conscious, but that's all it is... self-consciousness. I like that you're being vulnerable, but it really sounds like you were stuck in your head a lot, thinking, analyzing, comparing, and critiquing, during an event that's meant to get you into your body. I will tell you a secret: naked bodies are the shit. It doesn't matter if they're sexy, skinny, big, small, round, or globular... they're all awesome. So next year, just go naked and have a guy or gal set you up with some war paint and go fight the good fight - the one where you transcend false humility and embody your sexiness. RAWR

Friday, March 06, 2015 7:56:00 pm  
Blogger Victoria said...


Rawr back atcha. Thanks ;)

Friday, March 06, 2015 8:13:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 31, I wore a Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts, fisher hat, worn sneakers, Polaroid sunglasses yet my body is more dr gonzo (Del Toro) and not quite Johnny Depp, except the premature receding Jude Law hairline. I'd never take of my shirt because I'm Like Conan 'O Brian (25 celcius and look like a lobster with 2nd degree burns) despite being of Belgian, French and Catalan heritage. Friends call me El Blanco because I look like Fat Andres Iniesta and I'm a huge Barca fan :)

Don't mtter how look, express yourself. It's all good as long as you are healty, don't eat crap and processed food and excercice every two days. Switch between running, cycling and swimming. Ihate swimming, too crowded + chlorine stinks. I also dislike the lack of freedom, you jog/run or cycle pretty anywhere. I like going to nice quite green spots.

Remember it's about you feel, you'lle healthier in a few weeks. Just don't overdue it or you'lle strain muscles or joints. Start to Run is a good program, starts off slow and build from there. Also google Ray Cappo from NYC. He's brilliant . Following his advices on attitude, mind, body and sprituality will make you feel good . It's all connected

Saturday, August 22, 2015 7:36:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

Giving you a thumbs up but you just can't see it :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 1:36:00 pm  
Blogger Michael said...

Vic, I don't know where to start. This post touched me in ways I've never been touched. I wish I had a wand, not to change the way you look, but to let you see the incredible person you are. Just reading through your blog confirms that. Khalil Gibran said "Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." Michael

Monday, October 26, 2015 11:12:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

Thank you so much Michael. Much love.

Monday, October 26, 2015 1:06:00 pm  
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Monday, July 30, 2018 5:56:00 am  

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