Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Perils of Shopping

How To Have A Not-Totally-Hateful Shopping Trip

1) Wear the right clothes. Do not wear anything that's even a little bit uncomfortable or 'unflattering' (whatever that means for you). Wear clothes that are comfortable, that fit you in whatever way you like best, and that are easy to take off and put on quickly. You do not want to be in a changing room, having just taken off whatever displeasing item you brought in with you, having to put on something that you don't like the look of yourself in. When you look in the mirror before you leave, you don't want to hate the sight of yourself.

2) Choose your company wisely. If what you're in need of is someone to say "wow, that looks great on you! It would be a crime not to buy it", then find that person (your mum, your partner, your best mate). If what you need is some honesty, no matter how cruel - "don't even think about it, your knees look terrible in that" - then find that person (your mum, your partner, your best mate). Do you need your most confident, outrageous friend to persuade you to try on the spangly playsuit? Or do you need your sensible sister to ask you whether you've got anything that goes with those trousers? Do you want someone to try on all the nail polishes in the shop, or someone who'd rather spin through the whole mall in 20 minutes and drag you away from the jewellery stand? Both of these are valid shopping partners, and confusing the two will probably result in a failure to get what you want or need.

3) Know your purpose. Do you want an afternoon of meandering around shops, trying anything that catches your eye? Or do want a quick trip to get a pair of jeans and some new socks? Do not confuse these two shopping trips. I guarantee this is a recipe for disaster, particularly if your shopping trip is for an event that is looming all-too-close on the horizon, and you waste your one free afternoon trying on bikinis and maxi dresses when what you really need is some shoes to go with your wedding outfit.

4) Don't wear make-up. There's nothing worse than pulling tops over your head and worrying about getting lipstick on them! There's also nothing worse than trying on something gorgeous and seeing someone else's foundation smeared over the collar. Do you want to be the person who put it there? Gross.

5) Know yourself. This is key. I was going to title this bit "Don't go shopping (unless you absolutely have to) if you're already feeling a bit bad about yourself."And then I stopped, and I thought "Come on, not everyone is going to be as delicate a flower as you are. Some people will be able to feel bad about themselves and still have a successful, enjoyable shopping trip. Hell, some people might not even feel bad about themselves at all! They might have a healthy, happy relationship with their bodies and their minds, and each shopping trip might not be fraught with fat hatred and insecurity and fear of even taking that dress into the changing room, in case another customer or the attendent sees you and sneers mentally at your audacity. Don't they know what they look like?!" Those people probably don't need this post. But it's here for them if they do, and also for those of us who sometimes suffer agonies of insecurity and self hatred at the very thought of trying on shiny new clothes. Know yourself. If you're that person, and you're having that day when things seem impossible, and you wonder why you ever thought that inflicting your body on the world was acceptable behaviour, DO NOT GO SHOPPING. (Unless you know yourself really well, and you know that trying on shiny new clothes will make you feel better, and you want to feel better, and you can afford it, and etc etc etc.) I know myself well enough to know that shopping will not make me feel good about myself if I don't already feel at least ok about myself. If I do feel good about myself, shopping can be amazing. I can strike poses in changing rooms and pout at mirrors and feel like the living embodiment of beauty and sexiness, womanly curves and boyish lines, strong shoulders and beautiful calves and the hippiest hips you ever did see. If I feel good about myself, I might take advantage of that feeling to go shopping, even if I don't intend to buy a thing. I go just to extend that feeling of power and joy, of rightness in my body, of my place in the world. And if I don't feel good? I stay home, or I go to the cinema, or to the library to get on with my work. I meet friends or I curl up with a book, I cook something delicious or buy myself some McCoys or tomatoes or almonds or a KitKat Chunky. I do not go shopping. I wait until the sun comes out in my mind, and I catch a glimpse of my toes and catch myself thinking "you know what? Those toes would look great in a brand new pair of flip-flops!"

And then I go shopping.

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