Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The fitting room

Man I hate getting bra fittings.

I hate talking to the sales assistants, for starters – I can’t stand my body being scrutinised by a stranger, let alone a stranger who’s trying to sell me shit.

But the reason I hate bra shopping so much is because women at lingerie stores get my body wrong.

I’m a very petite person – tiny body, skinny limbs, short legs, small waist. It’s probably the Filipino in me. But I also have big boobs. Until recently I refused to buy new bras 1. Because I wasn’t sure if I was buying the correct size and didn’t want to waste money on ill-fitting bras, and 2. Because I was loath to seek help from fitting room ladies who acted like I didn’t know my own breasts.

A few years ago when the much-hyped U Plunge bras bandwagon rolled by, I jumped right on it and I eagerly went into Bras N’ Things to buy one. I have a few low-cut dresses where it’s not ideal to wear a bra underneath, but going braless isn’t really an option for me either. Those things get heavy, y’all.

So I picked the 10C and 12C out, and went into the fitting room where the salesgirl was alternating between myself and another woman next to me. She glanced at the bras I had selected – I explained the need for that particular style – then glanced at my size six body as I turned to face the mirror.

“Um,” she began loudly, eyes taking in my small frame with a smirk, “I’ll get you the B. I don’t think you’re that big.”

I cringed as she disappeared, wondering if the woman in the other stall was laughing at me. I outgrew a B-cup when I was thirteen, but I figured the salesgirl knew what she was doing. Maybe this bra style was designed with bigger cup sizes? How would I know?

I tried on the 10C and it didn’t feel comfortable. The salesgirl popped her head back in with the 10B, saying, “Yeah, it’s not supposed to sit like that. Try this one.”

I squeezed myself into the 10B and stifled a giggle. Now half my damn breast was hanging out each side, like someone had just slapped black duct tape over my nipples. The salesgirl looked in, and was just about to nod her head with approval when I turned and gestured at the unholy amount of side-boob. “I think it’s too small,” I announced drily.

I grudgingly changed into the 12C, but the bra itself (and the style is quite large anyway) was way too big and didn’t fit my body properly. The salesgirl came inside again and concluded with a frown, “You know, I just don’t think this kind of bra is made for you!”

She didn’t elaborate any further – like, why was this bra made for anybody with breasts except me? Were we perhaps getting the sizes wrong? Maybe she should actually step inside and measure me instead of snorting at me from beside the open door? But no, the gal was completely devoid of any helpful recommendations besides sighing and shrugging her shoulders at my amazing uncontrollable breasts. I thanked her and walked out, taking this message with me: There’s nothing wrong with the bra sizes or our products or my assistance, there’s something wrong with YOUR BODY.

And that’s about when I stopped buying new bras, instead wearing the same three favourites over and over again. But that kind of protest can’t last forever, and when those loyal old bras fell apart recently I was forced to face a fitting room again.

At a different store I was served by an older woman, to whom I explained I didn’t know precisely what size I was and that I wasn’t comfortable in most of my bras. She smiled kindly and said, “Ok, pick out some bras to try on and I’ll see what I can do. Just looking at you now you’re a 10 – what – B?”

I rolled my eyes to myself, mentally preparing for a repeat of the oh, I don’t think this bra is MADE for you... and she added, “Unless you’re deceptive underneath that big coat!”

As she joined me in the change room and properly adjusted the bra I was wearing she remarked with a laugh, “Ah, deceptive you are – you're a 10D. I'll get you one.”

And so I bought the first bra that has actually supported my girls properly in a long time. This older saleslady advised me I should always try a bra on and get fitting room assistance before buying it. It's bad for your breasts and your back to be wearing the wrong size, she said. It's our job to make sure you're wearing the right fit, she said. Don't be shy, always try, she said with a grin.

Pass. I figure I’ll just stubbornly cling to my new bras until I outgrow them years from now and have to do this all over again.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Oh, and EW

What the hell? After a press conference in Milan, Italian reporter and weird freak Elena Di Cioccio groped David Beckham's balls claiming she was trying to check the size of his testicles.

She proceded to run around shouting, "E piccolo, Beckham" and ran alongside his car screaming, "You've taken us for a ride! How could you, David!"

She then told her camera crew for prank show The Hyenas: "Mmm, my God. I touched his balls."

I know The Age is all, "Italian pranksters" and "Haw haw haw, is Cristiano Ronaldo's bulge safe?" I know Di Cioccio works for one of those prank shows and it was all stemming from the "controversy" about Beckham's impressive bulge in his Armani campaign, but you know what? You need to be fucking arrested, lady. GROSS.

I mean, grabbing people by the genitals in public? You just don't do that, you pervert! Even if it's David Beckham!

And I just HATE the media coming off as, "OMG humiliating Beckham's manhood through sexual assault LOL!" It's not fucking funny, and this woman is an awful person.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What "tomb" are we talking about?

Fuck off Google Images, when I search for "Lara Croft" I want pictures of her being awesome, not of Alison Carroll's vagina.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

You're beautiful... just like this supermodel is!

Women's mags, we've been here before. You, sitting over there with gesturing with your perfectly manicured hands, trying to assure girls and women that YES, you are beautiful no matter what shape you are! The current demands for women to look a certain way are unrealistic, you exclaim in a sudden epiphany. Squee! Revelation! Empowerment! Go girl!

While I, sitting over here examining my own chewed nails, wonder why if everybody's so damn beautiful and special, you just keep shoving the same specific body shape and beauty ideal down our throats again and again and again.

Prior to the release of their latest magazine cover featuring a nude and "untouched" picture of model Jennifer Hawkins in a bid to support
the Butterfly Foundation (an Australian charity that provides support for people suffering from eating disorders and their carers), I imagine Marie Claire had a meeting that went something like:

Editor: We need something real for next issue, some serious lady topic that relates to our audience like no other. Perhaps with a tie-in to a charity organisation for a positive and hopeful angle!
Lackey: How about... eating disorders? That is a lady topic! How women constantly struggle with body shape and the insecurities associated with basing all our self worth on whether we meet a certain shallow criteria for attractiveness, and how this affects our physical and psychological health!
Editor: Yes! That has not been done before!
Lackey: And just throwing this out there but... what if - just this once, mind you - we have a cover girl who has not been digitally enhanced!
Other Lackeys: Gasp!
Editor: Brilliant! Showcase a real woman! Like that Dove thing a couple of years back! And, to further push the status quo... have her completely naked on the cover!
Lackey: You are a genius, madam. I will google Australian charities dedicated to fighting eating disorders right now.
Lackey: Any ideas on who the cover girl should be?
Editor: Well a popular and beloved Australian celebrity, of course, in order to raise awareness. And we have to actually sell the magazine so, y'know, preferably a model and beauty queen.

It seems to me that a charity organisation dedicated to fighting eating disorders - full of people who have seen the damage, devastation and death eating disorders cause - would point out that using a conventionally beautiful and thin model to raise awareness of the perils of negative body image might be problematic. But Julie Parker of the Butterfly Foundation
has defended criticism of Marie Claire's choice of anti-eating disorder covergirl thusly:

"Jennifer sells magazines and she creates awareness. If Marie Claire had chosen to put on their cover an ordinary women [sic], say myself or a friend of yours, it would not have created the awareness it does."

Well, why not have an "ordinary" high profile woman on the cover, then? Magda Szubanski is a much-loved Aussie celebrity. When Kyle Sandilands bagged her out live on radio the entire country jumped to her defence. She's also a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig. I'm sure she'd have some perspective on negative body image issues and eating disorders.

Rebel Wilson? Awesome lady, confident and funny as hell. Have you seen her on Thank God You're Here? She's amazing. And suffers from weight issues.

Ricki-Lee Coulter? The former Aussie Idol contestant and singer/TV host has to constantly defend criticism of her body shape.
"I can't tell you the number of times people have told me if I just lost 10kg I could go much further in my career," Coulter said. "But I'm determined to show them - and other average-size women - it is doable and possible."

Now, I quite like Jennifer Hawkins - she seems very down-to-Earth, friendly and kind. I believe she is a good role model. And obviously as an actual model Jennifer knows firsthand the complex relationship between body image and self-esteem. It's great to see her here addressing the issue, and willing to take a risk to raise awareness.

But Jesus, surely a charity with a vision of living "in a world that celebrates health, well-being and diversity", and a magazine supposedly supporting this goal, could have selected a cover model that didn't just reinforce the same old narrow ideals of beauty they purport to be challenging.

White! Thin! Pretty! Young! Able-bodied! Blonde! Long legs! Big boobs! Perfect teeth! Tiny waist! Completely hairless body!

Imagine a young girl who already hates her body picking up this magazine and seeing the shallow message, you are beautiful just the way you are! See, naked former-Miss Universe here has flaws too! Because at sixteen, I knew I had no hope in hell of ever looking like that, I would've been like, "Wow, Jen's really positive and confident with her body - and I would be too IF I LOOKED LIKE THAT. WHICH I DON'T."

Having the same magazine with Ricki-Lee or somebody on the cover, along with the message, "My body is beautiful and I'm confident to embrace it. There's nothing to be ashamed of." ...that has more of the impact you want, Butterfly Foundation! Yeah, Marie Claire is ultimately about making money, and they're going to sell a hell of a lot more nudie pictures of Jennifer Hawkins than of somebody over size 8... but where's the challenge in that?

So, you really want to make a difference? You really want to raise awareness about eating disorders and promote diversity in the way women are portrayed in the media? You really want women to feel so comfortable with their bodies that one day eating disorders will be a thing of the past?

Then stop doing it half-arsed. Break your own taboos and showcase women who don't fit that beauty mould. There are plenty of 'em both in and out of the public eye. Don't tell me it won't "raise awareness". Don't tell me pointing out some dimples on a model's thigh is the best you can do. If YOU can't accept women outside the narrow convention of feminine beauty than you're doing nothing to promote change, no matter what the article says inside.

I know you're trying, but from here it just looks like you're running around in circles. Shallow, little circles.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Why my mum doesn't work in tech support


THE BLACK CAT sits on the couch, quietly wasting the afternoon looking up South American capitals on Wikipedia via her laptop. Enter MAMA CAT.

MAMA CAT: Cat, do you know how to defrag your computer?
THE BLACK CAT: No, what’s that?
MAMA CAT: Your computer is too slow, so this will delete all the files you don’t need and make it faster! Look up “steps to defrag Windows Vista” on Google!
THE BLACK CAT: (complying) Ok… (after a pause) Do I have to download this thing?
THE BLACK CAT: Ok, ok! Here, “how to defrag your Windows Vista drives”.
MAMA CAT: Let me read it! (scrolls up and down squinting at screen without glasses on)
THE BLACK CAT: (actually reading instructions, begins going through the defrag steps)
THE BLACK CAT: (opens Disk Defragmenter program)
THE BLACK CAT: I’m not downloading, that’s the program!
MAMA CAT: JESUS CHRIST! DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING IF YOU DON’T KNOW DON’T TOUCH IT! I’ll go to my computer and write down MY instructions. (storms off muttering) Don’t need to DOWNLOAD! DOWNLOAD!
THE BLACK CAT: If you do the exact same thing I did you are in so much trouble.


MAMA CAT is at her computer while THE BLACK CAT stands behind her.

MAMA CAT: (opens a webpage with exact same instructions THE BLACK CAT was following) Now, I’ll write it down, but just watch. You do this, and this, and click this…
MAMA CAT: (opens Disk Defragmenter program)