Anyone for clever conversations?

Every day, without fail, I get a shit song going round my head. Even worse, usually it’s a Cbeebies theme tune. Yesterday I branched out a bit and managed to achieve a Balamory / What’s the story morning glory? mash-up, which I actually considered quite inspired. Today it’s back to the same old crap. Only today it’s not Cbeebies. It’s Billy Joel singing Just the way you are.

That song is AWFUL. One backhanded compliment after another. The worst bit is when he tells his beloved that hey, he doesn’t mind the fact that she’s thick:

I don’t want clever conversations

I never want to work that hard

I just want someone that I can talk to

I love you just the way you are

Well, I’m sorry Mr Joel, that might be fine with you, but it’s not for me. If I did not at least aspire to be capable of “clever conversations”, I’d feel pretty disappointed in me “just the way I am”.

The whole message of Just the way you are – in essence, you’re pretty unexceptional but it’s good enough for me – reminds me of the whole Real Woman ™ marketing strategy so beloved of Dove, Boots and the like. Hey girls, we know you don’t look like Keira Knightley. That’s okay. We’ll still let you buy our stuff.

Dove have an advert for “firming body lotion” which tells us “let’s face it, firming the thighs of a size 8 supermodel is no challenge”. Yay! Go Dove! Unfortunately, I’m less impressed at being told I don’t need to be a size 8 (which actually I am, albeit at 5ft and with no other supermodel attributes), than I am pissed off at the suggestion that, naturally, my thighs must need firming. Firming for what? They’re just thighs, they’re fine. It’s not like I’m balanced precariously on two leg-shaped pillars of jelly, about to collapse at any moment.

Clearly there is the assumption that there is some level of improvement to which I must aspire. It’s not perfection as in days of yore (Helena Rubenstein’s classic “there are no ugly women, only lazy ones”). But in some ways, I’d rather it was. I’d rather be told to work my arse off to look like Claudia Shiffer than be told to work my arse off to look, well, passable. Because in any case, I’m not going to work my arse off at all. None of us can. We don’t have the time, money and, one would hope, the inclination to do all the crazy things we’re told to do.

When I was at college the Eating Disorders society put some stickers on the toilet doors proclaiming “Only 8 women in the world look like supermodels. Don’t think thin, think different”. It was well meant, sure, but I couldn’t help thinking, every time I saw it, that it kind of proved the supermodels were the “different” ones. And yeah, I would quite like to be different in some way. Not necessarily by being beautiful – I’m not completely deluded – nor even, more broadly, by looking a particular way. I’d just rather not be told “don’t worry about being mediocre – hey, nearly all of us are!”.

Anyhow, that’s probably just me having ideas above my station again. I’m no different from the Dove women, only I use the wrong deodorant and hence don’t have “beautiful” underarms, so effectively I’m just that little bit worse.

As a plus point, I’ve no longer got Billy Joel in my head. It’s switched to Good Enough by Dodgy. Personally, I still prefer yesterday’s Oasis-Cbeebies combo.

What’s the story in Balamory – yeeeeeeeeaaah!


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