Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before: a few words on female inadequacy and high school


My high school had the worst school uniform imaginable. Uniforms are never fun, outside whatever twisted sexplay is probably bobbing around your subconscious since I said the word “uniform”. And our yuppie tartan monstrosity was no different. The printing mistake of two merged schools trying to unite the best of both, the uniforms somehow settled on a disturbing lilac, green and blue affair with all the sexiness of your grandmother in a tartan mini skirt.

Lulu. Learn from her mistakes

I still remember picking the thing up from the Sloane-ranger friendly, overpriced stockist. 12 years old, bright eyed and filled with hope. Hope that was soon dashed at the realisation that THAT would be mine for the next four years at least. Wearing this crime against fabric was a daily chore. I avoided friends outside school, avoided being in town and even hid from my boyfriend if I saw him on the underground it was so awful. All this because of a few yards of poorly-thought-out material.

A few times a year, for charity events like Comic Relief, our educational overlords threw us a bone. Pay a pound, wear your own clothes. Hoozah and hoorah! Not so. The uniform was nothing, zilch nada niet, in comparison to 500 hormonal women competing for fashion asshole of the year. Some would bring in their latest Donna Karen and compare exorbitant prices, while the more normal teenagers with parents who spent their cash on things like, bills and the occasional MacDonald’s arrived in jeans and a t-shirt. That’s not to say it was a bad t-shirt, but it wasn’t fcuk. Pay money to feel like the scaffy kid for a day, great.

During my Mansun fangirl years, I came decked in with one of Paul Draper’s then-trademark German army shirts (which I still own and love). Boy did I look out of place. Pristine hair, manicures, designer labels. It all looked nice on the surface but I can’t say it ever appealed. Well, maybe the hair. At least my Prisoner t-shirt looked cool. To me, and the three other people who’d seen it.

Paul Draper: probably still would

Those out of place feelings have never left me. No matter how well dressed I feel, I have to admit that I have been sent into spirals of fashion inadequacy worthy of my teenage self on more than one occasion by a particular type of woman. The morning preener. And we’re not just talking tidy, taking pride in yourself here. There are a few women out there who see life as one big fashion shoot and they seem to love getting on my train. This morning she took the form of a tall blonde, well manicured Amazonian decked out in full business regalia who still managed to look like she’d stepped out of the pages of Glamour: power dressing special.

Sleep still clogging my eyes, decked in jeans and trainers, I’m sure I looked the picture of scaff next to this none-the-wiser woman. I’m 5’9” and she still towered over me. Stilettos before noon? Are you insane? You can’t run for the bus in those heels missy. My hands were in my pockets, music on full and instead of feeling like the empowered, takes no shit journo I should’ve felt like, I felt like an awkward, sheepish girl, lacking in poise and certainly minus the exhausting morning preen that women of her ilk take in their ridiculously large stride.

They hunt in packs

My morning ritual consists of wake up, put alarm on snooze for 40 minutes, drag self to shower, dress, foundation, hair, done. I’m by no means a slob, but some of these women are obviously getting up at the crack of 5 to curl their hair and wax their bikini lines. University was much the same, if more exaggerated.

Let’s see if any of this is famililar. You’re at uni, you had a few drinks after lectures yesterday that led to you being dragged down the union club night for a few hours. You danced like a twat, someone suggested tequila shots (probably you) and you went back round halls and slept on a mate’s floor still clutching a slice of pizza. You have a lecture at 9. Why lord, why? No toiletries, no shower without added verrucas and limited resources to make yourself look presentable for the three hours you’re needed, but you still manage to drag yourself from the pit, wash up and brace yourself for a morning’s pain. And you know what you see after you’ve found that nice friendly seat at the back with your friends, all wearing sunglasses indoors and half splayed on the desks, in obvious pain? You see the uni glamourpuss.

Nauseatingly quaffed hair, perfect make up and outfit coordination, while you languish in your mate’s Hawaiian shirt, the only clean item you could scrape off the floor that morning that didn’t smell of feet. She strides in, confident. Heels (Strathclyde students – our campus was on a bloody hill for god’s sake), matching bag. In the movie of life, the music swells and the camera lens is greased with Vaseline. Cherubs dance around her; she stops to pick up a small animated bluebird before bursting into song. Okay, maybe not the last part but that’s how it looks to scanky, probably smelly and thoroughly exhausted you. Stare at her, bore holes in her cranium with your loathing, let the hate flow through you.

Not that I’m bitter or anything. Wonder what happened to that chick? She turned pro.

It’s just exhausting. Fact is, I doubt it would matter what time of the morning I woke up at then or any time today. These nauseatingly ethereal women exist, possibly in some kind of time stasis or in pods, and there’s no point complaining about it. Just remember that while you stayed up watching that last repeat of The Crystal Maze on Challenge at 3am with real people, laughing and drinking beer that she was probably in bed at 10 and wouldn’t be able to belch the word “bollocks” on command if her life depended on it. You’re bloody marvelous, jeans t-shirt and all.


2 Responses to “Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before: a few words on female inadequacy and high school”

  1. 1 Newell

    I fucking loved this. One of the best rants I’ve ever read; even Charlie Brooker would be jealous of that!

    More of this please!

  2. 2 Lindsay

    I burst out laughing at several points (almost fell off the couch at the Strathy Uni Disney Princess image). These women are absolute freaks and you’re right – they have to be the most boring bastards imaginable to go around looking like a catalogue page at the expense of having any fun ever. I remember watching them ‘letting their hair down’ (providing the appropriate styling products had been applied) in the student union on a Friday afternoon – taking prissy sips out of a pint of continental lager, claiming that the indie rock type band playing in the background were ‘alright, actually’ and giggling like imbeciles everytime they managed to latch on to a pop cultural reference. “I RECOGNISED a thing you said there – I am THAT bloody cool. Hey guys, remember that thing you said five minutes ago? I remember what show that’s from!!!”

    Off at a bit of a tangent there but what can I say – a rant was inspired. You got it in a nutshell. I’ll be thinking of it next time I’m trekking to the corner shop in my jammy trousers with a hangover to get more cigarettes – I’ve had my fun, and that’s what matters!

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