I like to moan. Don’t you? So tonight I’m going to have a whinge about some things that I feel are specific to my gender. I hope you read this and go, “yeah! Me too! Totally.” Not out loud though. Or out loud. I mean if you want. I’m not going to start dictating those kinds of things.
This will be a series, as I’m worried people might drift into a coma halfway through.
Girls love shopping. “LIVE TO SHOP!” is emblazoned across various jute bags I’ve seen doing the rounds at local shopping centres. But I’ve actually never met a woman who truly loves shopping. The only shopping experiences I genuinely enjoy are ones where I don’t need anything and I don’t buy anything. So that sort of defeats the purpose of going shopping. I invariably leave the shopping experience feeling one of or a mixture of : guilt, anger, extreme fatigue, frustration, generally low or like I have the body of a freak. I have walked out of Topshop wondering if I’m secretly part-alien.
If you are a man, as far as I can tell, you are either a small, medium or large. That’s it. And if it’s a bit big, it doesn’t matter. If it’s a bit tight, then people will generally not complain, especially if you’ve got something they’d quite like to see underneath.
But if you’re a woman, one is not simply ‘a’ dress size. The question, “what size are you?” will probably be met with a warning look, but once you stress it is for research purposes, you will probably find that there will be several follow-up questions. “In which shop?” “Summer or winter clothes?” “Are we talking tops? Or trousers? Jeans are something else altogether.”
Shopping for the right jeans, my friends, takes not only extreme strength of character, but also a lot of energy, and acceptance that this may not happen in your lifetime. This may well be an endeavour that will still not be fulfilled on your death bed. “I wish,” you will gasp, ” that I never bought all those jeans that were slightly too big in the waist, knowing I would never ‘just wear a belt’.” Seriously; these will probably be my last words. I’m betting that the average woman will spend thousands on jeans that they buy in the hope they will suddenly, out of the blue (pun?), fit properly. I suspect these jeans are bought in desperation, perhaps tinged with hope, or resignation.
I go into the changing room at River Island or whatever with about 8 pairs of jeans, all in different styles, and different sizes. The 18-year old changing room assistant counts out my selection with quizzical skepticism. I look at her, daring her to say something. She backs down. “Let me know if you want any different sizes!” She chirrups, and skips away. I swish the curtain closed, take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, and steel myself for the coming tsunami of emotion.
Pair number one I’ve tried on before, and hated. But you never know, and they look so nice on the hanger. I poke my toe in, and then can’t get them over my ankle. I retreat, knowing it’s not worth it.
Pair number two slide on like a dream. Tiny, baby butterflies begin fluttering about jubilantly in my lower abdomen. Could this be it? The moment I’ve been waiting for? I pull them up round my hips, and… there’s six inches of material round the waist but they are skin-tight on my calves. I immediately remove them. They’re a size bigger than a normally buy anyway, so there’s no danger I would have bought them. Even typing this makes me feel sad about myself.
Pair number three are a boyfriend style, which I don’t like the look of, and they’re a funny colour. I put them on. They look like straight-legged jeans on me, but still two inches of gappage at the back. I pull them off, nearly ready to poke my own eyes out.
Problems with subsequent pairs: too short, too long, can’t get my arse/calves/thighs in, I look like somebody’s granny (I don’t even know why I picked up the bootcut ones), too high waisted, or they are pube-revealing, don’t like the colour, they are ripped at the knee (not a fan), they go on OK, and would be fine as long as I don’t walk, sit down, or bend over. The list is, to be frank, fucking endless.
I’m hot, I’m sweaty. No clothes are made for me. I’ve been out of the house for three hours and all I’ve bought is a lamp and spent £40 in Lush. I just want some jeans that don’t expose my arse or make me look like I have the knees of a rugby player.
I exit the changing rooms, defeated. “Were they any good for you?” enquires the assistant, looking doubtful.
I momentarily glower at her, but then remember it isn’t her fault. “No, none of them fit!”
She looks surprised. Maybe it is just me?
Then I spend £45 on a handbag I don’t want or need.