The Internets is filled with various arguments between Feminists disagreeing on who has it worst, how much were are enslaved to the Patriarchy, which fights are worthy and which are too privileged to bother with (oh god, I hate that word – privilege, not bother, obviously. That would be weird).
To be fair, I'm a lower-case feminist. I haven't read any theory since I was at Uni and had to google “intersectionality”, but I believe we should all be treated equally regardless of colour or creed, and all women should help each other out and appreciate that we face different problems in life caused by our varying set of circumstances. Basically, as far as I'm concerned, if you've got boobs – born with them or otherwise - you're in the team. (Yes, I know some men also call themselves feminists, and they are, but it makes my pelvic floor contract when I hear it. Boys, say you're a Feminist supporter. Trust me, #everydaysexism aside, it sounds more shaggable.) Anyway, when I read all these arguments I feel weary. If we can't agree with each other on what to fight, then we're just going to end up carrying on, verbally at least, punching each other.
What we need is a cause we call all unite behind. Something we can all agree is sign of the patriarchy's continued attack on our womankind-wide self-esteem and needs to be tackled. One ring to rule them all, as it were.
And ladies, I have found it! I present to you:
The Changing Room Mirror
It's not enough that we have the media with their constant round of 'she's too fat now she's too thin' celebrity pictures to judge ourselves against. It's not enough that we as women are capable of judging each other on our expanding thighs. (Oh come on, I'm not the only one who's browsed old schoolmates on Facebook, found that perfect girl from the class of '88 and smiled while thinking, 'Well, she's hoofed on the pounds, hasn't she?' Never mind that she's probably ludicrously happily married and successful.)
On top of all the body image hype that surrounds us, we must also stand alone and face the changing room mirror. Enough is enough I say. Here are a few truths about changing rooms which convince me they are the dark instrument of the evil lords of Patriarchy.
- They're too small. No woman should be forced to stand that close to a full-length reflection of themselves while trying to wriggle their non-standard body into a size 8/10/12/14/16 etc standard size pair of skinny jeans.
- Often they have rear-view reflections. The only thing worse than seeing your tummy and thighs squeezing into clothes is catching a view of your arse doing so at the same time. If I was meant to see my own bottom it would be on the front of me. Leave my illusions of peachy perfection alone.
- The mirrors LIE. Trust me on this. You've seen yourself dressing barely an hour before in your mirror at home. The view may not have been perfect, but it didn't make you feel like taking up Islam just for the clothing options. Suddenly, however, one hour and a single latte later, and your body has become a home for ALL the Adipose creatures from Doctor Who. Your thighs don't just have some cellulite. They ARE cellulite. A heaving, wobbly mass of the stuff. If you look closely enough you're sure you'll see cellulite on your actual face. Take comfort. This is simply the patriarchy at work. If we all actually looked as we do in changing room mirrors, no woman would ever wear a bikini EVER AGAIN. Much of the blame should rest of course on...
- ...The lighting. Harsh. White. Brutal. Badly angled. Now, not only are you tearily contemplating how your body has transformed into this saggy, flabby thing only held together by the jeans you're trying to do up, every line on your face (“Smile lines, dear” “Oh, bugger off, mother”) screams your mortality at you as they deepen.
If you're anything like me, after all of this, you tumble out of the cubicle, shove the offending clothing article - that barely fifteen minutes previously you thought you were going to look awesome in – at the disgustingly youthful and pert shop assistant while mumbling something about it being 'too big', and then head off in search of comforting cake/McDonald's/wine/all three, because who cares anyway as you're clearly the most disgusting female specimen to walk the earth.
Now I know we're all supposed to 'celebrate our natural female beauty' just as we are, but let's face it, the only time we really do that is after several cocktails, mascara running, and while we're screeching along to Christina Aguilera, normally post break-up. It's not how the world, or maybe I am alone in this, works. There is nothing so demoralising as a post-Christmas shopping spree. Honestly, all those gyms that flyer us on the way out of cake shops through January would do better paying for small stickers in the corner of changing room mirrors.
But I have found a solution! It's not a perfect one, but it certainly helps. I have tested it in the field for all of us! Here it is: take your best summer holiday sunglasses shopping with you. Preferably warmly-tinted ones, you know, that nice yellow glow. Pop them on before you strip. Kill that harsh lighting. Dim that reflection. Gaze on yourself in those jeans in wonder. Disempower that stealth weapon of the mighty patriarchy!
Oh, but remember to take them off when you come out. Or else you'll look like a right twat.
Like I did.