Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why Shopping Was More Fun When I Was Fourteen

One of the most extensively perpetuated myths about women is that we actually enjoy shopping. Sorry, crap jokes of middle-aged men everywhere: we don't.

You might want to prove me wrong. You might even use some of the following images to prove how wrong I am. Look at all these woman, Caroline! Shopping! Look how happy they are, how together they feel. See how they move as one fluid commercial body, rather then individual consumers.

Let me just point out one thing here: these are not happy pictures of women shopping. These are happy pictures of women who have just bought things, and there is a crucial difference. They are happy because they have all the things they want and need, and now get to go home.

About twice a month, I decide I need to go shopping. This is generally because

(a) I've noticed, again, that the zip is broken on my favourite jeans, and the other ones have a rip in the crotch


(b) I have been seized by the unshakeable paranoia that all of my friends, nay, every single person I've ever met, has seen all of my going out clothes. I don't know why, but this is the kind of thing that wakes me up in the middle of the night and rattles me to the core. My mind jumps ahead to the next time I have a social occasion. What in the hell am I going to wear? Not the flowery blue dress again. People will think I have no other clothes.

So, off I go down to the shops. Contrary to popular belief, women don't shop in herds of three and four. At least, none of my friends seem to. Bizarrely, we all seem to have other stuff going on, all the time. So here I am, ready to shop. Of course, I've never felt less attractive in my life, because the street was cold, the shop is warm, my coat is heavy, and I'm suddenly sweating.

And this is how it feels

With clammy hesitancy, I start picking at the clothes. It doesn't take you long after entering a shop to realise that you hate everything inside it. These aren't clothes for me, I grumble as I hold up a mustard military-stle sweater-vest to my reflection. Why can't I just buy normal clothes? says my internal monologue, Why can't I just buy a..a green dress? No backless surprises, no drawstring, no stupid material that shows my bra strap, just a friggin' green dress? Is that so much to ask?

And even when you do like something, there's the changing room, which is a whole new realm of unpleasentness. Ignoring the fact that some drunk teenager has to frisk through all the stuff you want to try on before she hands you a number and lets you get naked, there's the changing room itself. The mirrors in which is basically the most close-up you ever see your body, in the worst possible lighting. But we'll get over that. You have jeans to try on! They look ok, except they make your ankles look chunky. Do they? Don't they? I don't know. There's nobody to ask, except the drunk teenager, and she'd lie to you anyway.

There is a time when shopping is fun, and that is between the ages of twelve and fourteen. Shopping was the best then because there were no stakes involved. You never went anywhere, or did anything. In fact, it was highly likely that the most exciting thing you did all week was go to Boots with your best friend. And because you never did anything, you never needed anything, either. You didn't care if your friends saw your clothes, because you only had three friends anyway.

So, you spent all day buying crappy cosmetics that you didn't know how to use, and even if you did, you still would have looked ridiculous. Then you went to McDonalds and emptied salt packets, played with straws and taunted strangers. And you had the best day ever.

Here's a quick homage to the things I liked to buy when I was fourteen.

Everyone in my class owned this.

Because where would a girl be without her disgusting eyeshadow pallette?

Emery Boards! It's not like you need them, but they're six for a quid

Star Gazer Hair Mascara! Or, for that matter, Star Gazer anything.


Because someday, you'll need it.

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