I used to think I was different to other women; that because I enjoyed sex with such glee, I must be unique somehow. Yes, it's true that perhaps not all women have attempted to fist themselves, or masturbate three times daily, or can climax repeatedly through penetrative sex; but after writing this blog for three years and receiving feedback from thousands of other women, I know that there are many women like me.
There is still, however, one area where I know for sure that I am different, and it is thus:
I hate shopping for clothes.
I am certain that I am the only woman who dislikes it so readily; every woman I have ever met, has stated that they love buying clothes; I think this is pretty representative of most women. Whilst to state that every female feels this way is perhaps a mass generalisation on my part, I still believe I am right in thinking that the majority of women really do enjoy the experience of buying clothes.
I, however, loathe it. Sartorial shopping is like hell-on-earth to me; I avoid it wherever possible.
"But don't you like getting something new to wear, or some nice heels or a handbag?!" my friends ask me in shock, when I admit my distaste of the experience.
"Fuck no. Shopping is a pathetic waste of time", I say despairingly, aware all too late, of the indirect attack on them I am making, by this statement. (Suffice it to say that I never, ever, go shopping with my mates.)
Why do I hate shopping with such a vengeance? Where do I begin? So many reasons...
1. I loathe consumerism. The idea that I should buy particular 'fashionable' things to look a particular way, in order to fit into society, annoys me; hence my total disgust and boredom with the inanity of the 'Fashion' industry. 1b. The 'Fashion' industry also perpetuates an unhealthy and unrealistic representation of women - of stick-insect thin physiques - so there is no fucking way that I would, i) support a perspective that I see as anti-female (or at least anti-looking-like-a-female), or ii) buy clothes which have been designed to only fit someone who's as skinny as a clothes hanger. I've got curves, thank you very much, and would like something to drape on my body that actually works with my shape, rather than against it, ta.
2. High street shopping leaves me in a foul mood. Eg. due to tourists, and people who walk very slowly. Also see: bendy-buses with death-wishes, polluting taxis, men with loudhailers trying to convert me to Christianity (it's never going to happen, the evil atheist that I am).
3. Shopping malls make me feel claustrophobic. I need natural light. Lots of it. And if I get within five feet of a loudspeaker playing muzak, it becomes hard to suppress my desire to stab a shop assistant.
4. I have size 8 ½ feet and an E-cup bra. Finding shoes that don't make my feet bleed, and tops that don't make my bust look ready to pop the buttons, are practically impossible.
5. Only certain colours compliment my skin tone. These include most shades of blue, brown, purple, pink, black, and grey. I can occasionally wear green or red if it has no yellow-base to it. Otherwise, all yellows, oranges, and pastels look shit on me (they make me look ill). I mention this not because I am particularly fussy, but because unless the colours that suit me are 'In Season' (whatever the fuck that means) in the shops, it makes it difficult to find anything I can wear. So 2006 was great for me (loads of turquoise and chesnut brown: perfect); 2007 is not looking good so far (mustards, creams, rusty orange).
6. I hate shop assistants.
i) Them: "May I help you madam?"
Me: "No, thank you, I am fine."
A few minutes later. Them: "That looks lovely on you, it really does."
No, it doesn't. It is the wrong cut, it doesn't fit, I can't even do up the zipper over my breasts. Any fucking person with eyes can see how shit it looks on me. You're a fucking liar and talking bollocks because you're a scummy salesperson, and all you want want me to do is get out of the changing room quickly and buy this piece of crap. Fuck you. I'd prefer to go home empty handed (and I do).
ii) Me: "Hello, do you have this in a size eight?" (Note, I said 8, which is actually smaller than my feet, but just to be on the safe (smaller) side, even if it means total agony wearing them.)
Them: "Hahahaha. Eight?! Hahahaha! No! Our shoes only go up to a seven!"
Me: (under my breath): "Fucking sanctimonious prick."
8. All the mirrors in changing rooms have a surface that is slightly distorted*, which makes you look slimmer/differently shaped than you actually are. This is nice in the shop:
"Ooh, don't I look fabulous in these jeans?!"
But the same image does not translate to your normal mirror at home, and therefore, 'real-life'. When you re-try on the same jeans using a regular mirror, you can finally see that the leg seams are so far up your vulva, they practically split your crotch area into two. (Not a good look.) So this means the jeans either get returned to the shop (another journey; more time-wasting) or otherwise end up in your cupboard unworn and a waste of money.
9. There is a limit to the amount of items you are allowed to take into the changing room. This is usually set at four - some unwritten rule somewhere, that somebody has deigned to be the perfect number to ensure that: i) You are tempted to take more than one item in with you, thus making it more likely that you will actually buy something. ii) You're not taking in more items than a shop assistant can count, thus making it less likely that you will nick anything.
I don't know about others, but I can tell you that four items is nowhere near enough for me: I need triple that. This is because if you take into account my boobs, you can immediately rule out at least 80% of clothes, seeing as they're not cut for a large bust. Added to which are the clothes that are the wrong cut, the wrong style, or just the wrong look (eg. trying to look elegant for a photo, but a posh-frock is too dressy). So, whilst I'm not particularly fussy, unless I can take in a dozen or more items to ensure I have a good selection to choose from, the probability is that I won't find something that I want to buy. And if you've tried to negotiate with the sales assistant, you'll know what I am talking about:
Me: "I'll take these four with me, and when I've finished trying them on, I'll swap them for the next four. Is that OK?"
Them: "That's fine. Just leave them here with me."
Me: "Thanks. Back shortly."
Five minutes later:
Me: "Can I swap these four for the next ones that you're holding for me?"
Them: "Which ones?"
Me: "The ones you put on the rack... up there." We both look up. The rack is empty.
Them: "Oh. Them."
Me, incredulous: "Where are they?"
Them: "Oh, my colleague must have picked them off the rack."
Them: "They'd have taken them off to hang back up in the store... What do you think of this then?" They point to a yellow and orange-striped top. "Why don't you try this on?"
At which point I walk off fuming, muttering under my breath, and walk out of the shop empty-handed. Again.
10. Clothes cost a lot of money. Sure, I am a regular Primark buyer (Conway equivalent, for those reading this from the U.S.) and love a good, cheap bargain (though admittedly, probably not the most ethical of purchases, given the forced labour in many factories), but if you want clothes that don't fall apart the third time you've worn them, you have to spend a little more. i) I'm not rich, so cannot afford the posh, well-made stuff, ii) There are better things to spend money on, than clothes. (Like holidays, or good food, or art: things that you won't look back on and say, "Oh god - what was I thinking?!")
So it's quite clear that I do not enjoy the experience of buying clothes. Ever.
Saying that, oddly there is one type of garment that I do enjoy purchasing, and that is underwear. I've mentioned my lingerie addiction before, and my purchasing of it hasn't abated one iota since I wrote about it two years ago.
I may leave the house needing a new coat, but I will return instead with five pairs of pants, a new bra (if, praise-be, I can find one in my size), four pairs of stockings and two lacy suspender belts. Great for how I look underneath my clothes, but it doesn't exactly keep me warm on a cold day...
I don't know what the answer is to all this: obviously I need clothes, and I do buy them (when unable to avoid the moment any longer). But I hate doing it with a passion. I'd much rather be spending my time doing something else, rather than return home empty-handed after a wasted day shopping.
Of course I do always end up with my hands full at the end of the evening (number three, for those paying attention), but I don't think that activity can be described as 'productive', pleasurable though it might be.