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Vitamin Q: the book!

~ Thursday, July 01, 2004

A VitQ special in which some of my friends discuss whether they buy into (or not) some stereotypical ‘girly’ things.

The Brontes

Clare: Hmmm chick literature. Maybe if there were more chocolate and shoes and less crazy women rattling the keyrings of their male oppressors in there I could count this as being girly. If Jane Eyre was a real girl’s heroine, we'd have had a much better description of her wedding dress. Both times.
Mhairidh: Emily Bronte has got a lot to answer for - not least the launch of Kate Bush's career.*
Nina: "Wicked, perhaps, she is, but also she is strong: and her strength has conquered Beauty, has overcome Grace, and bound both at her side, captives peerlessly fair, and docile as fair." Charlotte rocks.
Julia: I would like to go to Howarth Parsonage Museum to buy a nice teatowel with a picture of Branwell on, and some Vilette fudge. Other than that - no thanks. Wuthering Heights is maddening and witless and has a broken backed structure, Jane Eyre's psychology gives me the willies. More of an Austen woman myself. Or Brett Easton Ellis.

Romantic Comedy Films

Mhairidh: OK, I admit it One Fine Day nestles in between Memento and Requiem for a Dream on my DVD shelf. Sometimes you just want to watch a no-brainer.
Nina: Heavily sedated, perhaps I could sit through one of these.
Julia: If John Cusack is happy to star in it, I'm happy to watch it - but film making focus groups who aim for girls' hearts and their hormones and not their brains or funny bones are never going to win my multiplex pound.
Clare: Only if they're retro. Pillow Talk, Gone with the Wind, The Young Ones (Cliff version - ok that might just be me). A good old weepy needs to be rooted in a not so real historical context, when you start feeling that you're watching your own life you may as well be out living it. Plus, the frocks are better.


Mhairidh: I like the look of them on the shelf but I just love my Doc Martens too much. Besides I've got very delicate ankles.
Clare: The girliest person I know can no longer walk comfortably in bare feet, due to extended heel usage, but she's only 4'11". It's one step away from foot binding - mark my words. So saying, I can appreciate a fabulous pair of shoes, you just wouldn't catch me wearing them.
Julia: I've just long-jumped into the red for a pair of pale pink stilleto mules which tie up with two metre long, two inch wide hot pink satin ribbons. It's a shame.
Nina: Send a car for me, and I'll consider wearing heels.

Posh Make-up

Nina: The value of expensive makeup is multiplicative: one posh lipstick is 5 times as exciting as the stack of 5 cheap lipsticks you could have bought with the same money.
Julia: It’s a thrill for ladies, not girlies. Girlies slap up with 99p own brand chemist eyeshadow in Cosmo colours, the sparkles so coarse they're practically still fish scales. Ladies are gently eased apart from fifteen pounds in an airport duty free for one pro-vitamin B5 enriched mascara. Nothing to stop you from being both lady and girly at the same time though.
Mhairidh: I really like posh make up but I'm scared of it. What if you buy the wrong thing? You can't go back to those scary department store counters - you'd look like a fool.
Clare: Is this make-up that makes you look like Victoria Beckham? This is actually something that makes me really angry, but I'll try to keep my venting to a minimum. Why? Why are *any* cosmetics necessary? Why? Seriously, give me an answer that doesn't have something to do with impressing men (who don't notice anyway) or having a screwed up self image. There's a reason why Glam Rock boys wear make-up as a joke, it is a joke.


Clare: Ahhh, that's better. Truly girly chocolate comes in a box tied with a ribbon and is literally worth its weight in gold.
Mhairidh: Chocolate is the solution to all of life's problems. Especially after three weeks on the Atkins.
Nina: 70% bitter is up there with red wine, cigarettes and coffee.
Julia: I like Minstrels well enough. But not in a squealy way.

The Little Black Dress

Julia: Cocktail parties with dress codes? That's so dull and anonymous I might as well go black tie.
Mhairidh: It is definitely a social myth that has fuelled the misery of the Bridget Jones generation.
Nina: A quick survey reveals eight of these in my wardrobe. Still, it's not my favourite fashion uniform.
Clare: I wouldn't say this was girly, more womanly. A true woman has a Little Black Frock in her wardrobe for last minute cocktail/dinner/launch parties. Girls don't get invited these sort of dos.

Slushy Songs

Julia: They give me frostbite, brrr - but then I do have the musical tastes of a seventeen year old boy. Lots of squally guitars and teenage angst in my (alphabeticised) cd collection - not an Amy Winehouse, Will Young or Doodah album in sight. Do I win an iPod?
Clare: Slushy songs are traditionally those with lyrics like "I love yoooooou, yes I doooooo, oooooeeeooo". But I'm pretty sure that real girls are allowed to like Aimee Mann, Tori Amos and Debbie Harry, you know, slightly cynical about love, but essentially in favour of it. But no rock or indie music, that's for boys and absolutely no folk music, it's simply not cool enough and the cardigans are just horrible.
Nina: What are they for? They seem to target a part of the brain that I suspect I'm missing.
Mhairidh: I quite like slushy songs, but only country & western ones. As far as Westlife go, surely any self-respecting person between the ages of 14 and 60 just says NO.

Fancy Stationery

Nina: If fancy means a thousand subtle variations on thick heavy paper and smooth glossy ink, then yes, yes, yes. If fancy means with kittens on, no.
Mhairidh: Sure, I would be impressed by a nice letterhead showing an SW7 address, but let's not lament it any longer - snail mail is on its way out.
Clare: My man and I both like stationery shops. I like the paper and he likes the pens. Ahh Mr Freud, how you do crop up.
Julia: After Accesorize, Paperchase is the best place to spend your pocket money - but this is no girlie-specific retail fetish. Ask a group of male poets to show you their notebooks, and one after the other they will pull out A6 black moleskins, like a giant game of dominoes. And they'll write in them in architects' roller balls, to a man. **


Julia: I thought this was a trick question, the odd one out in a list of things that only girls like. Boys like mayonnaise too don't they? Same as girls like brown sauce?
Nina: I can't think of mayonnaise without thinking of Disgusting Things I'd Sooner Eat, none of which I can mention in this family blog.
Mhairidh: You just can't win with mayonnaise. The real deal is hyper-calorific but the 'lite' stuff is manky. Although it does make cold egg palatable.
Clare: No. Mayonnaise is evil. Just look at it sitting on a spoon all wobbly and unnaturally white. Euw. How can anything that looks like the result of liposuction possibly be girly?

Scatter Cushions

Julia: Is this an instruction? Plough the fields and scatter cushions?
Nina: Nice in theory, but the reality escapes me. You can't scatter a single cushion, and if you buy six, how do you get them home?
Clare: Ok, I'll give you this one. There's something about unnecessary cushions that makes me smile. I'm also a recent convert to fleecy blankets to snuggle under. Oh no, I am a girl after all.
Mhairidh: I'm note quite sure what scatter cushions are but they sound dangerous. Granny. Tray of tea and shortbread. Eeek. Hip replacement.

* No Kate Bushes were harmed in the making of this list.
** Personally, I’m a biro and bus ticket man. I think she is meeting those hyper-drafting chaps with poetry as an ‘elegant hobby’ and not the dirt-blooded ‘real thing’

Source: with many, many thanks to J, N, M and C.

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