3 August 2011

Plinky plonky music and yoghurt for pudding

New shoes and a sanitary towel with pretty flowers on it! My life is COMPLETE!
So there's this woman. Let's call her, I don't know, Amelia.

Amelia is in her late 20s. When she goes out for lunch with her friends, she makes sure that there is a brunette, a blonde and a redhead in the group (sometimes a token black friend, but rarely), and there's plinky-plonky Sex and the City-style music playing. She considers salad a meal, and yoghurt a perfectly acceptable dessert. As she nibbles her lettuce, she and her friends talk about everything.

And I mean everything. Not just how useless men are, or diets, though those feature. She talks about constipation. Bloating, which apparently happens a lot. The quality of her stools - soft or hard? The regularity of her bowel movements. Bladder weakness. Thrush (that yoghurt might come in handy, Amelia). She envies her slim friends and is not above snooping through their houses for their dieting secrets.

Amelia worries about how she looks in a swimsuit. Really worries. So much so that she eats nothing but cereal for two weeks or drinks nothing but gluey shakes for a month to fit into it. It's not exactly a balanced diet, but it's important to lose weight for her swimsuit, even if she gains it back within a month.

When she has her period, she used to go into purdah. She couldn't wear white, or go dancing, or work. That is, until she discovered tampons in plastic applicators, which have revolutionised her life. But her sanitary products can't just absorb her blood (which, bizarrely, is a blue watery liquid). No, they also have to disguise her lady-smells with chemically-saturated cotton (careful, Amelia, you could get thrush). If the boxes are pretty, and the pads are decorated with pretty little flowers like kitchen towels, and she can pretend the applicators are lipstick so boys don't see she has periods, even better.

Amelia is horrified by body hair. She'll use foul-smelling chemicals, epilators that rip hair out by the roots, razors, anything just to get rid of it and avoid the horror of a stray hair. The razors have to be pink though.

Her deodorant can't just disguise a bit of pong. It has to be chock full of moisturiser (she gets dry armpits, apparently) and perfume.

She's also terrified by wrinkles. She doesn't have any wrinkles, because she's only in her late 20s. Nevertheless, she slathers herself in moisturisers full of big made-up science words because science really can stop you from getting older.

She also likes to put made-up science words in her hair so she can look like those women who have hair extensions and computer-generated tresses on TV. Same goes for mascara.

Amelia is slightly, adorably incompetent at her office job. She's so busy making eyes at the cute guy in accounts or gossiping by the photocopier or drinking Diet Coke that she sometimes drops files. But the job funds her shoe shopping.

Shoes. My god she loves shoes. They're practically all she thinks about, when she's not thinking about her bowels, or her waistline, or her period, or body hair, or body smells, or ageing, or the shame of hair that doesn't have the shine of a thousand suns. Shoes fulfill her. Shoes make her whole. She spends all her money and some of her boyfriend's on shoes.

Do you know Amelia? I don't either. But if advertising is to be believed, she exists. Advertisers must know women like Amelia. Every advert aimed at her seems to tell me this. Except for the ones aimed at her older sister Sophia, who's married, and spends all day grocery shopping and cleaning up after her family while chuckling indulgently at her children's mess and her husband's utter incompetence around the house.

Amelia has a mother, too, but we never see her, because her mother is over 50.

Firefox has an adblock which has made my internet browsing experience a thousand times better by blocking every ad that tries to target me. If only there were one for the TV.

EDIT: Thank you to @DickMandrake for this excellent offering from the brilliant Mitchell and Webb: Women! Sort yourselves out

ANOTHER EDIT (I can't help it. I'm an editor.) Here's another link, from the comments below. Hat-tip to @nickmellish. Sarah Haskins in Target Women: The Yogurt Edition

Image: freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Absolutely cracking post. Never met an actual real-life Amelia, although one of my friends does actually come close on some counts (right now transforming from an Amelia to a Sophia)...

    Also spot on about adblock - my online life has been vastly improved since I got it. And not having a TV means I live in blissful ignorance of that particular flavour of advertising...

    @NellRawlison via Twitter (sorry, Google is messing me around with signing in)

  2. For the record, I liked SATC and shoes, and I have nothing against yoghurt. What I'm tired of is the cardboard cutout and sometimes downright ridiculous caricatures of women the adverts play up. Sometimes - eg in the case of the scented panty liners or Special K diets - they're downright damaging. Most of the time they're just stupid, though.

  3. May absolute favourite one of those is the constipation one. Apparently, it's acceptable to excuse lateness by explaining you had to do a really hard poo.

  4. It's a common topic of conversation amongst my friends and me at lunch. The problem is that advert has given the secret away and now men know what we talk about when they aren't around.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Ha. You got a 'slimming success' spam comment. Now *that's* funny.

    Nice post, BTW. Although you forgot to mention that sometimes Amelia's lips don't seem to sync up with what she's saying all that well, and her voice seems strangely disconnected from reality (almost as if it were spoken in a recording studio by a different person with a stereotypically bland home-counties accent).

  7. Isn't Amelia's mother constantly out having tea parties with her friends, laughing confidently in groups?

  8. This is effing brilliant. I love you!

  9. Oh and I fucking HATE the fucker who even came up with scented pantyliners/tampons. WTF? I'm supposed stick perfume up there now? Really?? You first, bastard.

  10. Brilliant post, absolutely spot on.

  11. One of the pantyliner brands now does them with "Added Vitamin E" *rolls eyes*

    Loved this!

  12. Good point about her poor lip-synching skills.

    @Jason - I suppose we occasionally see her mother, but only when she's given extra confidence thanks to her incontinence pads and denture adhesive.

    Thank you everyone for your positive comments - much appreciated!

  13. Vitamin E? In a pantyliner? Jesus wept.

  14. This post reminds me of this: http://current.com/shows/infomania/88941392_sarah-haskins-in-target-women-yogurt-edition.htm

    Great post by the way.

  15. That is excellent! Thank you for introducing me to Sarah Haskins. Genius.