It’s exciting isn’t it; being something you’re not. Enough of this “love the skin you’re in”, “you’re worth it”, “mm Danone” crap. It’s time to bend your entire perception of self to a conceptual stereotype, depending on your location. I just did so and would highly recommend.
Coming from the sleepy “northern” (to most of you reading this but not to general UK population) town of Stafford and otherwise residing in serene old Exeter, two weeks of work experience in London was a wake up call. I was waking up to an actual rush hour; where space was tight, people were sweaty and I was rude.
Fake it until you make it, they say. Well I didn’t just fake it, I became it.
Intent on avoiding all eye contact while simultaneously determined to absorb as much surplus information as possible, I became one of them. I started to read the newspaper standing up. Four stops on the Jubilee line and I was already better informed than I had been with the first tap of my Oyster. What’s more, not only had I reflected upon Greek’s impending economic collapse, I’d also managed to devour a croissant. Nothing says good morning like a croissant and a collapse.
Despite not getting paid for the work I was doing, I wanted to feign professionalism so much that I even used the left hand side of the escalator. I told myself that I must hurry, that I must be in the office for 9 and that if I wasn’t there for 9 the office was likely to collapse, explode, spontaneously combust – delete as appropriate. I knew it was a lie and that I was fooling no one other than my sweet innocent self. But whatever, the rush was a rush.
Outside of the working day, I had spontaneous cocktails, went for impromptu dance lessons and even stood on someone’s foot without apologising. Was I a city bitch? Yes, a hopelessly naïve excuse for one. One day I ate a salad for lunch (I know, this is not the Sarah you know and endure) and then went round for what must have been a good three hours with lettuce protruding from my canine. Here was a lesson I learnt the hard way: when you’re let loose in the big city alone, no one tells you when you’ve got shit in your teeth.
Didn’t Karl Marx or Yeezus say something like “adapt or die”. Well here I am, still living. Sense of self is fluid: you can become a pretentious knob in no time, just look at me. And it’s fun, very fun in fact. But like most fun things in life, it was completely and depressingly unsustainable. It wasn’t long before I came crashing back to the reality that is my bank account. London, we had something great but now one must be careful that one’s frivolous frolicking doesn’t end up becoming…fraud.
Foot shaming. It’s not a new phenomena (the Daily Mail ran a FRONT PAGE this year criticising celebrities and their so-called ‘monster feet’) but I fell victim to it last week when in Schuh. When in Rome, you do as the Romans do, but when in Schuh, you scream at a staff member.
All I wanted were some travelling trainers, okay. Something light, something comfy, something ‘trendy’ (isn’t it funny that when using that word you immediately become the absolute antithesis). It wasn’t a hard task, especially when I saw these funky Puma ones. I wanted the funky Puma ones. I say to staff member: “may I try on funky Puma trainers please sir, dem r sum sik crepes bled” (told you I’d adjusted to London lifestyle). “What size would you like madam?” he asks with an archaic charm. I initially liked Schuh staff member, I did not want to hate Schuh staff member. But this is when a relatively simple question for him became episodically embarrassing for me. “An eight please”, I respond confidently. Kate Winslet has size nines, everything’s fine, I’m normal… ish. “Oh I’m sorry”, Schuh staff member says, with little-to-no remorse, “we only stock Puma up to size six.”
Silence. Staring. I attempt to fathom a response. Schuh staff member shuffles awkwardly. I then whisper (shout) a polite (aggressive) “WHY?!”. Only up to a SIZE SIX?! Considering Puma base their branding on a LARGE CAT, the SECOND HEAVIEST in the world – one that, I’m sure, does not totter around with a PETITE PAW – and considering the average female foot size IS now a size six, it is utterly ridiculous that they do not cater to anyone with LONG TOES. What if Kate Winslet wanted Puma trainers hm? Kate would be disappointed wouldn’t she, if she could not purchase her desired Puma trainer. You don’t want to frustrate Kate. She’s pretty cold-blooded, I mean, she said she wouldn’t let go … Anyway.
I’m now impassioned to put my fat feminist foot down. (It’s not actually fat, just long, I have fairly narrow arches). In an open letter to the powers that be: Puma, your puny shoes are pathetic. Start catering to the massive, not just the masses or Schuh staff members may receive severe facial lacerations. Luckily for you, this time Schuh staff member remained unharmed (he sold me some Adidas).
I write this ahead of Glastonbury glee. I’m a festival virgin fully prepared to pop the cherry – the only things packed so far are gin and a wig. Ah, youth. Don’t ask me why but I have quite a large urge to mount Florence. Not sexually, but for some sort of piggyback ride. Preferably on the Pyramid stage. A Pyramid piggyback, now wouldn’t that be instagram gold?! Updates to follow.
Sarah Gough, Print Editor