Words about Women

By Holly Peacock

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The ‘Disney Princess’ night.

“She writes a Feminist blog you know!”

My friend is wobbling on her heels and looking at me like a proud mother. Our eyes meet as I smile warmly at her and do my best “acknowledge this as true but let the moment pass” The 40 something year old man nods at me and hands me a glass of expensive pink, sparkly something.

With this revelation now hanging in the air around us I become acutely aware that I am stood at 11pm on a Wednesday evening at the top of Harvey Nichols. I’m sipping champagne thats worth more than I earn in a week supplied by 4 leering/awkward bankers, whilst engaging in bizarre small talk thats made bearable by the yummy bubbles. I loathe myself.

What had started as an impromptu visit to Harrods to appease a friends sheer delight at the Disney Princess window display, was now soon to be ending at the relisation of my very un-feminist, but very Disney Princess, behaviour. I also became aware that I was now the only non single one of my friends in this hilarious situation which seemed to have just “happened”

I quickly check my phone and realise its been out of battery for 2 hours. Oops.

Polishing off the champagne (obvs) I whisper to my friend “I’m gunna go, pay for my part of the bill and i’ll transfer you it tomorrow” I shake hands with the Bankers and start the journey home far too drunk for the number 73 ( which manifests in my face conveniently DINGING the bell halfway home)

I crawl into bed at midnight and plug in my phone to charge. My boyfriend stirs next to me. YES he is awake. This excites me as I have an interesting story for him..

“Babe, I think I met a famous Brazilian politician. He’s a democrat or something (I mean diplomat) who was with these bankers. It was weird. I kept his card so we can Google him…”

*Pause for a moment to shake your head at my lack of judgement thinking that this was appropriate*

Boyfriend sighs and says “..pass me the iPad then” Best boyfriend ever award. He would have been kicked in the shins HARD if he’d have done the same.

After satisfying my nosiness I turn over to sleep but get a text from my friend “no need to pay me for dinner and drinks. Bankers picked up our bill when they left”

Chuckling, I eventually go to sleep amused, relieved (who did I think I was splashing out at Harvey Nics on a WEDNESDAY) and generally ashamed.

In the morning I find a sole shoe on the doormat outside and one on the staircase. I’m SUCH a Disney Princess.

Filed under Disney Princess Feminism Harvey Nichols Harrods

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GUEST BLOGGER: East-ern town and West-ern girls

Anna Roberts is 25 and works in London as an Advertising Account Manager. In this blog she talks about her experience as a woman caught in the western vs. eastern culture clash.

My memories of a recent holiday in an Arabic country included baking hot sun, smoking shisha, eating couscous and being called an ugly goat. Yes, the humble goat. Not particularly an attractive animal and there was no misconstrued language barrier it was definitely meant, and taken, as an insult.

The reason for this insult? My shorts and strappy top attire…I think!

I don’t want to name the country, as I don’t want this story to deter others from visiting a place where the locals were very welcoming to the Westerners storming the country. I knew it was a Muslim area, so I thought it was only right to respect their values (the ones I knew) by covering up whenever I left the resort.

However, the one time I thought it was OK to venture out in my ‘holiday clothes’, I got caught out. I was shopping in the tourist shop next to the resort when I noticed a guy pushing past me a few times in the aisles, muttering something under his breath. As weird as I thought it was, I didn’t take any notice of him until I left the shop and found him chatting away quite happily to my boyfriend. So I, let’s say ‘encouraged’ the boyfriend to walk away.

This guy’s response was to ask my boyfriend if I was his mother (insult number 1) and then called me “ugly like a goat” (insult number 2). We walked away. Talking through the incident later, we realised that actually, he’d also insulted my boyfriend’s mother (insult number 3) and my boyfriend, by suggesting he should have more control over his woman (insult number 4) and perhaps even a further insult to myself as I wasn’t worth been spoken to, only through my boyfriend (insult overload!).

We then reminisced about this incident and another which occurred earlier in the week where I’d been called “sexy” by another local. As a complete opposite type of comment, I still felt offended. This time I felt that because I was a young, Western female, this man had a preconception of what I was like. To put it bluntly: I’m happy to show my body, therefore I must be a whore. A sex object. When I received my “sexy” comment, my boyfriend and I laughed, but my boyfriend wasn’t sure how to react - it’s not exactly right to come onto a girl when her boyfriend is by her side. What’s he meant to do, hand her over for a go?

The difference was that the 1st man was being nasty and was genuinely offended by my appearance. He evidently wasn’t tolerant of a different culture in his country. The 2nd guy probably didn’t realise his comments were offensive and the situation was more like a lack of education in the intentions of a Western girl.

For both of these incidents, I wondered would there have been a difference if I’d had been completely covered up? I wondered if I should keep my mouth shut as it was their country and I knew some of the values and social norms were not my own before I even arrived.

So, why was I still shocked?

I feel like I have a better understanding of other cultures simply by the fact I mix with them daily in England. So surely there should be some cultural compromise in other countries to ensure that both parties are, at least, content? Maybe I had expected too much.

I admit I definitely had preconceptions of the country and the men featured in this story prior to visiting, so my analysis could be completely incorrect.

I haven’t been put off this country but it has definitely left a nasty taste in my mouth and it’s only down to two men’s comments.

Should I avoid cultures who don’t like my hair showing, my Holiday clothes and my love of a sun tan or, is my very presence in other cultures an education both for myself and for the members of that society? 

Filed under women abroad anna roberts culture clash

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Everyone is talking about rape and abortions

The recent comments from politicians and public figures regarding rape and abortion make me both theatrically furious and TERRIFIED.

On the one hand we have a surge of anti-abortion groups, such as abort67, popping up outside abortion clinics from Stratford to Brighton then on the other we have US politician Todd Akin publically claiming that when women are raped our bodies actually prevent us from becoming pregnant.

Any way you look at it, the message they are sending is that if you are pregnant it’s your fault and you must keep it. Even if you were ‘raped’ then your body has failed you and made you pregnant (or weren’t raped anyway, you silly whore.)

Oh and now we must use quotes to refer to rape as apparently there is legitimate rape and just bog standard, you asked for it, rape. Thanks again Akin.

“Oh men!” you might think. How misguided. 

Unfortunately, it is not only misguided and foolish men who are transporting these views into mainstream western culture but women. Educated, mature women at that.

Helen Mirren famously claimed that ‘a woman who voluntarily ended up in a man’s bedroom and engaged in sexual activity – but then said no to intercourse – could not seriously expect to take that man to court on a charge of rape if he ignored her last-minute insistence that she did not want full sex.’

Dear god woman what is wrong with you?

An article by the Independent went on to reveal that Mirren herself had been in this ‘situation’ several times. She claims that she was “locked in a room and made to have sex against my will”

Er, Dame Helen. You have been raped. Repeatedly. With deep sorrow, I believe hers is an opinion which makes her feel better about these rapes. I hope she does feel better but I hope she NEVER says anything so ridiculous to anyone with ears again.

All this opinion does is reinforce to men that once women are in their presence and have agreed to visit their home, marry them or share a bed they are free game. ‘Rape away’ this message says.

Shut the fuck up, says I.

I wish we were in a position to laugh or pity these crazed confessions but alas they have been backed up by the likes of Ann Widdecombe (Conservative MP) who jumped to Mirren’s defence saying:

“Of course if a woman goes back to a man’s room she has responsibility for her actions. Of course she should accept that she has got herself into that position. What’s she asking for? A cup of tea? If we say to women that you can go as far as you like with a man but once you don’t like it then you can go running to the law, well then we are offering them a false comfort.”

Oh, I see. 

So perhaps, to prevent these attacks women should just not visit any man’s room whilst they are unmarried and then be accompanied by a protective male who will ensure that no rape occurs. Actually, if women could just not drink, cover up, not interact with men and realise their ability to self-abort rape babies then we wouldn’t have to tell rapists off. I wonder what a culture like that would look like…oh wait. There ARE cultures that, does that look like freedom?

Every time I read one of these high profile comments I yelp in shock as though they have just crept up on me. 

However, the realisation is dawning on me that these opinions are not infrequent nor are they said in whispers to a collective few but via mass media or actually right in the face of pregnant women. (Whilst holding the image of an aborted foetus, naturally.) 

These opinions contribute to grey area of rape which results in a pitifully low conviction and report rate.

Not to be out done MP George Galloway, ex-big brother contestant and cat impersonating extraordinaire, waded into the recent Julian Assange row (Assange is accused of raping a woman he had already had sex with that evening during her sleep) The Guardian reported on Galloway’s comments and quoted him stating:

"Even taken at its worst, if the allegations made by these two women were true, 100% true, and even if a camera in the room captured them, they don’t constitute rape," 

"At least not rape as anyone with any sense can possibly recognise it. And somebody has to say this.”

That’s where you are wrong George, no one has to say this. EVER.

I wonder, if Mr Galloway had taken part in sexual activates with a date and then blissfully fallen asleep, how he would feel to be awoken by the same date forcing a dildo in his rectum?

Is this not the same thing? Would this be accepted as they had engaged in sexual activity prior? What if you are married and choose to share a bed with someone having sex repeatedly, do they then have the right to use your body in any way they see fit? I doubt, if the shoe or penis was on the other foot Galloway would have the same opinion.

It’s tempting to ignore these insane comments and laugh them away believing they are some narrow-minded old fashioned beliefs but unfortunately they aren’t. They are creeping into our society, challenging our laws and rights. If we don’t stand up now and tell these fools that rape is rape and women’s bodies are their own then we run the risk of jumping back a decade.

Filed under rape abortion Todd Akin abort67 Helen Mirren George Galloway

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Fifty Shades of Grey

When this series first came out it was almost liberating. Women could be seen reading it on the tube, the train or hunched over it at lunch. Now however they have gone into hiding.

Critics have completely rinsed E. L. James’s 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy. Their reviews are either hilarious or angry. They rip in to the poor prose, the unlikely pairing and the stereotypical nature of the sexual fantasies.

Some even say this book has pushed feminism back slightly by the piggy-tailed virgin protagonist Ana who becomes the wife of a billionaire sex pest.

Now yes it may be a tad trashy, the story IS fanciful and unsophisticated but…. WHO CARES?

Since when were we only ALLOWED to read books which directly reflected reality or were written with such complexity that you need to couple reading time with a thesaurus. Do we have to read books that only describe appropriate fantasy’s?

Now my review of the book would go something like this:

“I picked up the book not knowing its context. Read the first book in about 4 days. It was exciting, liberating to read in public and not too graphic that I read it in the bath only…but that did happen. I read the second book slowly, I lost interest as the story line wasn’t strong enough to carry me through without increasingly graphic sex scenes and I became a desensitised and annoyed by all of the ‘oh my’s that continued every time the protagonist saw a bit of flesh. I was pretty horny though so a little treat all round.”

What’s annoying is that I bet a lot of the critics felt the same yet they blast both the book and its readers for being, let’s face it, stupid.

This is what makes me mad.

You have to remember that this was originally published as an E-BOOK printed on demand. The demand was so great it was published. So technically we VOTED for the series. Approximately 31 million copies have been sold worldwide, the book rights having been sold in 37 countries and the series has set the record for the FASTEST selling paperback of ALL TIME.

OF ALL TIME!

Now it’s not Shakespeare, it’s not well written chicklit (god I hate that term) but its vanilla, mainstream erotic fiction.

Women are not stupid. They don’t need to be kept away from this novel in case they all start sewing up their hymens and chasing after men who are disturbed and like to spank us. Don’t patronise us. If a book is crap we will put it down not act it out, we aren’t children.

It’s a FANTASY. I can bet you that when those critics fantasise it is something a little bit embarrassing to admit, a little bit weird and little bit ‘wrong’. All feminists don’t go home and masturbate over being the dominant and they don’t have to say no to any submissive act in fear of being hung up and pelted with tomatoes for letting down feminism.

Maybe you like the white knight submissive fantasy or maybe you like to dominate. Whatever you want to read or do is absolutely fine and if you don’t like what you read buy another one that you might!

It’s no bad thing that millions of women who may never have been brave enough to pick up an erotic novel are now reading and having an opinion on what they would like to read. Sexy times!

So to the women who are now ashamed of reading their 50 shades book I say to you: FLICK your way through all three!

Filed under 50 Shades of Grey Erotic fiction women

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Are skyscraper heels the 21st Century corset?

I’m nearly 6ft tall. For a woman that’s rather sizeable. My taller than average height means I’m towering above most folk. Heels you would think would be an unnecessary conundrum for me but alas, like every woman, they are.

Heels make me look good. Height suits my frame. What’s more, I like the stature it gives me, my posture is better and I feel sexier.

The advantages of heels however, for me, are only relevant when standing or sitting.  Once movement is required the problems begin. My feet hurt, my back aches, I don’t want to dance, there is an earlier ‘home time’ placed on nights out and the thought of wearing them all day in the office fills me with exhaustion.

Undeniable heels are pretty damn sexy. Some even say they are a fetish and should that should remain just that.

Thinking about it, they do seem to make more sense when you think of them in that way. Sexy underwear in the bedroom would not be a first choice when selecting your daily draws. This is accepted.

What I can’t ignore is that some women swear their heels are comfortable. I either applaud these women or feel like throwing a pair of ballet pumps at them, mainly the ones tottering at 0.5 miles an hour looking like a newborn greyhound on roller-skates.

Hey, I’m not judging this delightful image that replicates me every Saturday night. I looked AWESOME when I left the flat at 7pm but by 11.30pm I look like an utter dick clinging on the arm of a more stable friend making ‘ooo’ and ‘eee’ noises with every step 

Its at this point, I think I’m an idiot I look anything but awesome and may as well team my platforms with a sign saying ‘EASY TARGET: “mug me, go on, I wont be running after you”’.

I annoy myself each and every time but I still persist. I credit this to my resilient personality (or forgetfulness/vanity)

Further to this there are the women who wear them 24/7. When I ask these sadists ‘HOW?’ they either simply say they are comfy (I’m jealous and mystified) or give me this reason (mainly for work time heel-wearing):

“Heels give me confidence, putting me face-to-face with men/colleagues”

Maybe I’m bias because I’m normally face-to-face or taller than everyone but I’m going to quickly skim over this by saying if you are overlooked because of your height in the workplace standing on mini-stilts seems a strange solution. (Another blog post in the making…)

The truth is, as reported in this weekend’s Observer, that wearing extremely high heels isn’t good for you. We all know this but it is undeniable that heels make me feel better and if I was slightly smaller (I’d feel pretty abnormal being 6ft 4 all day) and heels wear as comfy as Primark pumps- I’d probably wear them.

But, and that’s a big BUT, they are really bloody uncomfortable so why do we (the majority) still power through? I pondered this and the only piece of clothing that springs to mind, giving the same level of discomfort and lets face it, disfigurement is the corset.

I wonder, will future generations look back at us and view our love affair with skyscraper heels as ridiculous, strange and restrictive as we view the corset?

Will heels disappear and exist only in the bedroom? Are they part of our ever increasing, oversexed fashion or are they a beautiful part of power dressing?

So many questions…

Look, can some snazzy fashion designer just make a range of exquisite and ultra comfy heels that don’t rip your feet apart whilst simultaneously morphing you into the hunchback, we wouldn’t need to ask.

Filed under women heels corset

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Science? It’s a girl thing.

I’ve been trying to ignore it but every time I hear anything to do with the new EU commissioned pop-esk video ‘Science: it’s a Girl Thing’ I poke myself in the eye.

Eye-poking seems to be a way of my inner feminist ensuring I don’t get sucked in by the lipsticks and pretty colours. Self aversion-therapy, if you will.

Though it may be well intentioned I can’t quite comprehend why they took the ‘girl thing’ so far?

The website font is written in lipstick, the video is all about sparkle with ‘girls’ (they look about 25) in short skirts mimicking a Barry M commercial.

What dumbfounds me is that there was clearly a point in the creative meeting when someone suggested ‘hey guys, why don’t we just tell young women they can make make-up whilst looking REALLY sexy? Then they will bloody love science!’

It is at THIS POINT that surely someone should have coughed slightly and then slapped said suggestor around the face coupled with a reminder that this is not the 1950’s.

Alas, this didn’t happen. Now we are faced with a new message to young women that we want them to get involved with science. But probs only for L’Oreal.

What’s next?

I am now eagerly awaiting the FA to release their video encouraging women to take up football. Obviously, in the video the ball will be covered in glitter and the strips will consist of pink miniskirts and matching bikini tops.

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Living with a man…

I have lived with opposite sex before, though I’m not sure it counts. I used to live with a boy, once. He was weird. He did weird things like locking himself in the bathroom, hurling drying racks across the living room…oh and masturbating at his work colleges! But that’s a different story.

I have recently moved in with a man. A big, hairy, 6.4ft one. He opens doors for women and plays rugby. His smell is divine and he dances with me in the kitchen. I like him lots, so we moved in. 

I knew him pretty well before hand. We were friends, who turned into more when he took me on my first ever date. During this date I naively ordered the steak meant for two people…to myself. The bemused waiter told me I couldn’t have it. Man friend told the waiter I was having it. It was delicious. I was in love.

Now, still in love and 6 (or 10) pounds heavier we live together. STEAK FOR EVERYONE!

One of the reasons we get on so well and still spend 24/7 together (actually 24/7 as we work together. Our employer is truly LUCKY to have us) is that we are so alike. Born only a few days apart, even our star signs are the same. (Stop rolling your eyes, that stuff is freakily true!)

One problem I did not foresee however was that one element of our personalities which is, EXACTLY the same. I’m not sure what to call it but lets just say we are both ALPHAS, or at least we like to think we are.

The Alpha female and the Alpha male- can you imagine the shit that goes down in Ikea?  

Well, after one hellish argument which was, as all our arguments are, conducted with giggles of acknowledgement that this is indeed ridiculous, but through gritted teeth and slanted eyes that say “I’m not budging” we realised that this could get ugly.  (Either that or he realised he will never win. I think it’s the latter and so will you…he doesn’t have blog)

In an effort to overcome, we decided that the person who can’t be arsed the most will most likely give in first. So far, that works for us.

However, the big stuff settled, it still lingers in the acts of everyday, cohabiting life. Every now and again we pretend not to, but we find ourselves racing to the front door. I find myself carrying things twice my weight refusing help and we debate nightly just who is taking up the most room in bed. (HIM fyi. Big oaf)

Changing because you live with a man, or anyone, seems an impossible challenge for my fixed, Type A personality. Don’t get me wrong, we have adapted. I’m a little tidier and he has learnt to hoover but it’s more about tolerating each other. In our case its hard NOT to tolerate each other when we are BOTH fighting over who puts their key in the front door first.

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GUEST BLOGGER RESPONSE: FEMINISM FREEDOM AND THE HIJAB

Miriam Aslam, 25, is a fashion stylist from Birmingham. Here, she tells us about her own personal relationship with the Hijab.

"As a British Pakistani Muslim living in England, I wanted to write a response to Holly’s recent blog about the hijab and feminism to give my view on things. I haven’t always worn hijab so I wanted to explain why I chose to wear it, my experiences since and it what it means to me as a woman.

It was just under two years ago that I took to wearing a head scarf. It was a combination of two things, becoming older and wanting to take my religion more seriously, and wanting to show God how humbled I was by the amazing people in my life.

As my hair had always been a bit of an obsession of mine, spending crazy amounts on designer haircuts and products, I though that by giving that up I would go some way to showing how grateful I was. That’s it, it was that simple. No, really.

The first day in the office was a little scary, I had told just one colleague what I planned to do on the following Monday. I spent the next few days talking to people about it and explaining Islamic as well as personal reasons for wearing a hijab. For the first time in a long time i felt I was making a difference to how Islam was perceived and that was very empowering. I wouldn’t consider myself much of a feminist but I don’t feel that wearing a scarf makes me any less of one by wearing it. I want to be respected for who I am and how well I do something in spite of the way I look and dress just like any other woman.

I don’t think I lose my sense of femininity either, as now that’s more of a private thing I express in the comfort of my own home and just for myself.

A few weeks into wearing my scarf I went for a job interview. I am not normally nervous but this time I was, it was the first time I had attended a job interview wearing a headscarf. I decided to put on my most expensive suit (In this case, an amazing navy Reiss suit, for all you fashion lovers!) so I looked the business.

At the end of the interview the interviewer asked me how I felt things had gone. I answered in the usual way of ‘ I think we built up a good rapport’ etc but I admitted that I had been nervous because of my headscarf. He was kind enough to ask what it meant and said that he had forgotten that I was wearing it within a minute of meeting me.

It was a great moment for me because I realised that my scarf was doing exactly what I wanted it to do and hadn’t hindered his perception of me as a professional, and if anything, focused his attention on my professionalism rather than my gender.

I hope I have given you some insight into what wearing a headscarf is like, just like your little black dress, or those killer heels, it empowers me, and other women who choose to wear one, giving them confidence. Yes, I have simplified things here, but religion isn’t as complicated as people feel the need to make it.”

Check out Miriam’s image consultancy and fashion stylist service on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FashPak

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Whose breast is it any way?

Parenting. We are obsessed, but it’s nothing new.

Programs like Suppernanny and Wife Swap have allowed our watchful eye into the homes of others to take judgment on and, in some cases, learn from other parent’s approaches to raising their own children.

I am childless but on a Sunday morning Supernanny US makes me feel like a parenting expert. NEVER misjudge the power of the timeout bench. Jo Jo is God.

Lately however, there seems to be an influx of programs exposing EXTREME parenting. One example includes munching on your own placenta (some services also make a delightful print of the placenta. Perhaps in years to come it could make a delightful Christmas gift for your offspring? Perhaps not)

Last week Time Magazine published a front cover, feature article asking American women Are You Mom Enough? Coupling the antagonising title was a photo of a young blonde woman, fully clothed breastfeeding a male child who looks about 5 years old.

The article referenced a philosophy devised by pediatrician Dr. Bill Sears called ‘attachment’ parenting. In it he suggests prolonging the attachment phase of parent and child…or more specifically mother and child. In particular, it is the somewhat extended breastfeeding that has made headlines.

The photo was obviously intended to shock and it has facilitated a debate on attachment parenting, social pressures and feminism.

To me the issue of attachment parenting is that it is predominantly the mother who is required to parent their child 24/7 not the imperative first few months but well into their younger years.

Regardless of the somewhat shaky scientific argument, attachment parenting forces mothers to stay at home for years, forcing the father out to work. The intense relationship with the mother also means children don’t have the same bond with their father. Taking three steps back, in my view.

Is attachment parenting in line with modern day, western feminism? Is it a beautiful, healthy and successful parenting option? Or is it just another pressure reinforcing parenting stereotypes whilst forcing women back into the home?

I feel it is the latter. It feels sinister and horrifies me as a young woman envisaging that when I have children (two of which feature in the ‘life plan’) I’m going to have them running round without nappies and hanging off my breasts, which inevitably turn to cow udders, as I stay in the home for 10 years as they suckle away whilst devouring a steak.

I ask you, when did Jo Jo’s timeout bench not become enough? When was independence considered a bad thing and who the hell decided fathers were only good for bringing home the bread?

What pisses me off is that this is just another bar raised in the parenting stakes where women are inevitably going to feel bad for not doing.

Already guiltless motherhood feels impossible. When women decide not to breastfeed they are made to feel selfish, when they have a Caesarean they feel like failures, when they return to work they never feel like they are doing enough. LEAVE US ALONE!

Does anyone wonder why women are delaying having children?

Shouldn’t we be concentrating on approaches that are in the best interest of the family and that adapt to the real world?

I asked the few mothers I know what their thoughts were and they all sang the praises of some practices of attachment parenting but they too felt it was an unrealistic and extreme approach to breast feed for years and sacrifice the complete independence of the parent (or rather the mother)

Perhaps we all need few minutes on the time out bench. (One minute for every year of your life, if you were wondering)

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Are shops just out to make me feel bad?

So there I am, in Marks and Spencer’s feeling pretty excited about purchasing my first swimming costume in about 10 years.

There are colours and shapes in abundance. Tummy tucking, uplifting, streamling I am going to look AWESOME.

Ok I’ve put on a few pounds recently but in my head M&S would be a safe haven for a costume. They will understand. I am a WOM-MAN and M&S have considered this.

Browsing the options I can’t find my usual size 12 anything “gosh everyone must be a size 12” I think.

Looking first at my usual colour choice of black I think perhaps I should branch out. Everything in the shops seem to be variations of highlighter pen colours anyway. Perhaps i’ll look mega fashionable.

Selecting a bright pink size 10 and a purple size 14 option I stride merrily into the changing room with Beyonce ringing in my head phones.

God I’m so bootylicous. I’m going to look really FAB.

To my shock size 14 doesn’t even cover my boobs.

Ah well. On to Pink size 10.

I step into it, pulling it to my thighs…where the journey ends. Thinking I must have missed a hidden zip somewhere I look at myself in the five surrounding mirrors. No Zip. I’m just bent over, naked in an M&S changing room looking like a piece of ham wrapped in string. Gammon at best. Beyonce is silent.

Cringing, I take a little breath and hand them back to the sales assistant. Ignoring her questions “were they any good?” I’m not sure she could handle the ham metaphor response swimming in my now flattened dream of looking bootylicous in a cossie.

The boyfriend is waiting near the costumes…”Well?” he asks. “No” Is my only reply. As I then resign to getting a more sporty style for my over-sized mammary’s and extended spine. Yes, I have an extra vertebra. I have one option which glides on like a dream. It looks pretty boring but thankfully it’s a far cry from the meaty, fuchsia swim show circa five minutes ago.

Sorted, I’ll just have that one. Maybe I’ll use it more than I first envisaged after observing some new back roll additions from five different viewpoints.

Clothes back on and I’m thinking “yeah ill buy that”. Removing the size 12 hanger I peek inside for the price tag. Whatever it reads I’m going to treat myself!

Inside the label reads £25, Size 18.

I head to the tills in silence. Shops hate me.