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 Corby 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 (largely, it should be said, by default). Which kind of makes me feel bad for her, but I guess that's what happens when you join a political party where everyone looks like a ham that has been left in a swimming pool all summer.
After writing numerous "aspirational" novels with titles like Mariah Carey movies (Glitz, Passion, When She Was Bad), and a disastrous column for Glamour, now Mensch is turning her hand to feminist blogging. Which is where I – and her plan to replace my function in society – come in.
Mensch's website Unfashionista is a sort of How-To life and fashion advice site for women who don't consider themselves, well, fashionable. Phew, at least that's a difference between her readers and my readers already. I mean, you guys are fucking fashionable, right? I mean, you like to pretend you're female Larry Davids, but you're basically wearing this right now, huh? Of course you are.
So maybe I shouldn't worry so much. After all, Unfashionista's website design makes less sense than string theory (seriously, it would probably be easier to skim through Obama's personal email account 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. Shall we see what she's got to offer?
She starts off by thanking the Lord for Kim Kardashian, which is understandable, given that this seems to have become a rite of passage for aspiring body image bloggers the world over. 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 models and pop culture icons for decades; just think Twiggy and Jane Fonda, or Kate Moss and Pamela Anderson, or Agyness Deyn and J-Lo. Besides that, everyone's body is different and praising Kim Kardashian for becoming the cultural ideal for normal women is like saying The Shard is the new cultural ideal for low-cost housing, simply because it's not as long as The Great Wall Of China. Anyway…
And just when I'm ready to totally dismiss her, she uses this line: “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.' 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, though, I’m really not sure:
So apparently, because your man loves you, you should “wear fitted clothes”. 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, flaunt your real bod, if possible in Lycra.
Okay, I know she didn't write the word "flaunt", I did. But she was thinking it and you know what? If I have to hear the word “flaunt” in relation to my body ONE more time, I’m going to "flaunt" my fist into the face of the person who says it. If that means I have to smash my own laptop screen, I’ll do it. I don’t want to "flaunt" my curves. As amazing as it might sound, 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.
On the plus side, 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’ve 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 unmarried sluts you left behind in Corby, right Louise? SMH. Louise my friend, I don't want to point out the obvious, but is fashion really about finding a husband? Seems like you've leapt dangerously out of the fourth wave feminist rulebook here. (For future reference, 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 a bra you found in a wheelie bin. Otherwise they don't relax and it's weird to be around people who are nervous all the time because they're trying to figure out which of the men in the room want to marry them.)
She goes on:
Do men want colour? Every guy I know is in love with goths.
Anyway, don't be disheartened, Louise. I know it can be hard writing something and putting it out there into the world to be endlessly dissected and criticised, I seriously feel your pain. But you need to remember that if you want to get that book deal, then you need to stop assuming every woman on the planet with an internet connection and a handbag has the same aspirations as you. And maybe get a website that works.
It looks like my job's safe – for now.
Follow Bertie on Twitter: @bertiebrandes
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