Review: ShoppingThe things women say to help each other justify buying new clothes! It's enough to induce you to write an epic poem called 'On the Endless Wonders of Being Female' and have done with it. I was in a shop in Holborn the other day, considering a pair of shoes, and a woman was saying to her friend, "See, you could wear them with jeans OR with a dress. They're a bargain", as if wearing jeans or wearing a dress is pretty much the sum of all human experience, or the scale, and wearing jeans and a dress at the same time some kind of harmonious middle point where you feel your own oneness with the universe. I left empty-handed, feeling quietly superior, then went to Topshop and bought a pair of shoes that don't actually fit me at all in any way, though I keep on trying them on hopefully, in case my feet have shrunk in the night.
For a while after my Tragic Breakup (TM) (R), I was completely uninterested in buying new clothes and went around wearing glasses and a grey cardigan, for all the world as if they were sackcloth and ashes, and not making eye contact with anyone. But even at the best of times, I'm a pragmatic rather than a talented shopper. Go in, find stuff, buy stuff, leave. This is considered a male approach to shopping, by people who like to ascribe all rational behaviour (shopping sensibly, being good at maths, knowing how to fix things) to men, and all irrational behaviour (pointless giggling, heavy make up, envy) to women.
It deflates the heart to read about yet another female-oriented website/magazine that plans to exploit women's apparently limitless fondness for enthusiastic consumerism, as if that were the main interesting thing about being female. It makes me want to pretend to be interested in quantum mechanics and early Greek philosophy, although if I were being completely honest I'd have to say, "I totally reject your reductive analysis of me! I am interested in KISSING and READING NOVELS." And the proprietor of this fantasy magazine/website (basically I'm thinking of that ohsoyou thing that got profiled in the Guardian a while ago) would look at me, all aglow from a recent orgasm induced by someone mentioning the phrase Web 2.0 in front of them and making them feel, you know, YOUNG and ALIVE, and refer me to the 'Kissing' and 'Books' sections, all prepared and laid out like a boring fate.
Having said all this, my mother and sister share some kind of recessive shopping gene and can buy stuff for hours on end without any visible signs of boredom or exhaustion, unless it's exhaustion of the finite resources of the soul, which you wouldn't notice anyway against the general background of Oxford Street.
Something that would not be any fun at all, but is kind of interesting to think about (very similar in this way to listening to all the stuff on your ipod all the way through, nonstop, for six days, the idea of which occurs to me every time I look at my itunes... I'd be in a completely empty room, just me and my ipod, and people would bring food and water, and I'd keep a diary... "12.56am: Ice Cube (Greatest Hits): Surprised by a feeling of emptiness") is if you piled up everything you'd ever bought, ever, every T-shirt and chocolate bar and mobile phone and tin opener and plastic action figure, and just, kind of, thought about what you'd done. That would be interesting. More interesting than shopping, anyway.
Shopping: Spiritually impoverishing, materially rewarding. It's a toss-up. 5 out of 10.