I’m having the worst day. It’s February, it’s the beginning of the week, I’m totally post-menstrual and now Louise fucking Mensch is trying to steal my job. You know, Louise Mensch, the ex-Tory MP who deserted her constituency last year to move to Manhattan and be Carrie Bradshaw plus kids. I'm slightly obsessed with her: She did English at Oxford, interned at MTV and worked in PR at EMI, before she decided she was through being cool, and became the poster girl for sexy-Toryism by default – which makes me feel kind of bad for her, but I guess you make your own bed when you join a political party in which all the other members' faces look like hams that have been left in a swimming pool all summer.
After writing numerous "aspirational" novels, each with a title that sounds like a Mariah Carey movie (Glitz, Passion, When She Was Bad), and a disastrous column for Glamour, now Mensch is turning her hand to feminist blogging. Which is where me – and her plan to replace my function in society – come in.
Mensch's website Unfashionista is a sort of How-To fashion advice site for women who don't consider themselves fashionable. An Unfashionista needs thrifty, practical ideas about how to feel stylish while hoarding her life in her pockets. So far, so threatening to my payslip. I know I shouldn't worry too much because the website design makes less sense than string theory, and it would probably be easier to skim through Obama's personal email account for entertainment than read it regularly. But still, here's Mensch writing a blogpost about fashion and body image and I can’t help but feel like she's stepping on my toes a little bit. Let’s see, shall we?
She starts off by thanking the lord for Kim Kardashian, which seems to have become a rite of passage for aspiring body image bloggers. Can I say something crazy?! Kim Kardashian is not the first curvy sex symbol that’s ever existed. There have been discrepancies between the body shapes of fashion and celebrity icons for decades, and Kim Kardashian’s body is no more “natural” than the next super-skinny model. Sorry Mensch, but the argument that men are finally “breathing a sigh of relief” because an over-sexualised figure has become the cultural ideal for many women, is no more credible or interesting than the fact Chris Brown wore spectacles to the Elton John Oscars after party.
Then she says this: “I can tell you one thing for sure though – your man likes the way you look. That's why he is your man.” And I’m thinking, “you know what? That’s a pretty good line,” and while you can over-analyse literally everything if you’re a pernickety snitch like I am most days, I don’t think I need to. That’s pretty cute, Louise. Pretty darn cute.
How this leads on to the next sentence, I’m really not sure. But apparently, because your man loves you, you (along with Unfashionista, as Mensch refers to herself, which is also kind of cute) you should “wear fitted clothes.” Urm, Huh?
She sort of goes on to explain that wearing tight clothes is a form of sartorial honesty, don’t “cover it up” in baggy clothes (I guess she means your girth?) but flaunt your real bod, possibly in Lycra. Ok, I know I said it, but if I have to hear the word “flaunt” in relation to my body ONE more time, I’m going to flaunt my manicure into the face of the person who says it. If that means I have to abuse my own laptop screen, I’ll do it. I don’t want to flaunt my curves. As amazing as it might sound to the three people who run Glamour, the majority of the time people are not concerned with “flaunting.” I don’t want to “flaunt” while I’m at work, I want to be able to sit cross-legged in my chair for eight hours and not get fired for indecent exposure. “Flaunting” is reserved for that feeling of fear/drunk you get when you walk past your evil ex with someone else on your arm. If we all went around flaunting all the time, we’d fucking hate each other. Still, let’s press on.
Mensch reckons you shouldn’t wear a padded bra because it will inevitably lead to a “disappointed boyfriend.” I think you shouldn’t wear a padded bra because 99 percent of the time they make it look like you’re strapped two frozen steaks to your chest, regardless of the boyfriend. Looks like we agree on some things. Except, oh no, hold on.
“Men say they want a girl in a mini-skirt and heels but actually date and marry very differently.” This one goes out to all the sluts in Corby, right Louise? SMH. Why do you feel the need to dive into a fictional "man's" psyche, and use it as a tool divide women into groups? Fashion is about self-expression, not trying to find a husband. You should encourage people to wear whatever they want and feel comfortable, whether that’s your Unfashionista fitted skirt suit, or a pair of booty shorts and an old bra you found in a wheelie bin.
Finally she rounds it off by arguing that: “Essentially men are simple creatures, and they like women, as they are, not as high fashion wants them to be. They also love you to wear colour.” Ah yes, your classic reverse sexism. let's reduce men to one great lump of impulsive apathetic bacteria to make women feel better. Thank you Louise, but I'm not convinced that's the best way to build peoples' self-esteem. Oh, and colour? I’d rather be single. Looks like my job's safe. For now.