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Pretty Girl Bullshit

Why Female Bonding Sucks

Shopping and dieting are conspiracies to make all pretty girls hate each other.
October 23, 2012, 1:05pm

Hello, I’m Bertie. This column is basically a place for me to call bullshit on girl related stuff that I think is dumb. While I appreciate the importance of girl talk, I’m not about to braid your pubic hair or send you the results of my latest smear test. Instead, I will pass on any remotely useful knowledge I happen to discover re: being a FEMALE. Trust me: I’m not a doctor, but I do have a Ph.D in pretty girl bullshit.


If you're a girl, there are certain things in life that are expected of you. I'm not talking about having kids or giving head or anything else that you could, if you wanted to, blame on the crushing weight of centuries of patriarchy. (Though doesn't it feel kinda nice and safe to have that weight bearing down on top of you?) No, I'm talking about things that – for some reason – we choose to inflict upon ourselves.

Take, for instance, the shopping trip. Like having sex with someone you hate (come on, we've all been there), shopping manages to be depressing, uncomfortable and infuriating all at once, yet for some reason we all wince along with it under the pretence of enjoyment. Why has shopping become a mandatory girl bonding requirement? Unless you and your BFFs can afford to go out and buy matching Rodarte hoodies, “grab” lunch at Ottolenghi and then laugh maniacally as you spray bottles of champagne over each other in the back of a cab (doing this on birthdays/weekends doesn’t count, btw), then it's tough to see why we're meant to love this shit.

And it’s not just shopping, there are a whole slew of boring things that girls are supposed to do in order to prove to Facebook that they love each other more than carbs. Hold onto your hamburgers: I’m going in.

Yes, I’ve already talked about this, but wait, there’s more! Not only does the social activity of shopping strike me as a total waste of time, money and upper arm strength; it’s also the one thing you should avoid if you consider yourself to be even half as ethically aware as Cher Horowitz. First of all, none of us should be buying anything on the high street right now. I don’t know when not wanting to wear shit that was made in sweatshops went out of fashion, but come on, it’s pretty simple: companies that don’t pay tax and make clothes out of babies' fingernails = bad.

Besides, there's a reason high streets are dying, and the reason is that they fucking suck. It's not like you're 14 and buying lipgloss makes you feel as smug and grownup as getting your first period, even if high street shopping invariably makes you feel like you are on your period, because you're dizzy from all the artificial lights and the heating's up so high that last night's Thai green curry is leaking out of your pores and the top of your shirt into your face.

If you wanna know why the Topshop on Oxford Street is the epitome of modern high street shopping, it's because that's what Philip Green's Death Star essentially is: 90,000 square-feet of menstruating women. Why put yourself through it?

Another strangely mandatory activity, even after the stale smell of the school locker rooms has faded to just a distant memory, is the forensic, girl-2-girl analysis of text messages. Every time I fail to give a shit about what smiley face a boy has used (or has failed to use) in his texts, I'm made to feel like a bad friend. Why? How much thought do you think went into that tossed off communique? You're not dealing with Gore Vidal here, you're dealing with somebody who probably still buys all their clothes in the adolescent section of H&M.

And that's not me saying: “Go to a museum already, you dumb fucks,” because I too am lazy and have the attention span of a social climbing sociopath at an Illuminati orgy. I’m just saying get a fucking grip, talking for two hours on the phone about the colour some guy's AIM conversation bubbles are is not going to strengthen your friendship half as much as a gin and tonic would.

If you are a criminal on the run, a spy or have ever seen the little-known cult classic film Grease, chances are you will be well versed in the language of the makeover. Domain of the teenage girl, these exercises in identity crisis are commonplace among those young ladies who wish to be picked up from school an ugly duckling, and return the next morning a smoking hot babe.

But by the time you reach adulthood, allowing somebody to choose your lipstick colour is just plain foolish, let alone giving them free reign to slash bangs into your hair that night every week when the two of you stay in and get drunk in the shower. Being a human that exists within (don’t flatter yourself) a relatively small social circle, chances are everybody knows what you look like already. The only thing a makeover’s going to do right now is alert your ex to the fact that the death of your relationship has made you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. If a friend wants to do that, she's probably banging your ex.

Another classic modern-day bonding exercise is starvation, because the maple syrup and Cayenne pepper cleanse is much more palatable when there’s an emaciated weakling at the other end of your phone experiencing the same grating hunger pangs and mood swings as you are. Fun!

But wait: maybe that's it. Maybe these things shouldn't be fun. Maybe the reason the established forms of female bonding more or less always suck is because they are humiliating hardships that we must endure together, before emerging from them stronger the other side? It's certainly the sort of thing that sounds like it could be a profound truth. But if that's the case, why don't any of my friends want to join me on my enema diet?

All images are screen shots via

Follow Bertie on Twitter: @bertiebrandes

Previously: Which 'Made In Chelsea' Member Is the Biggest Feminist?

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