The women in my family have a way of speaking. It’s a prattle, a finished shopping list of things. Deals. Everything is a deal. Everyone wants to make a deal. A language of huntresses and conquest. This shirt? $2. That coat? $40, marked down from $200. Can you believe it? Pennies.
“Peanuts,” my mother always says.
I’m so aware of this prattle, I don’t participate in it even though I too enjoy the hunt. Because it’s in my blood. But I hide my shopping bags within other bags so no one knows I’ve been shopping.
Because I don’t want anyone to know that I am a shopper.
Because I can’t think of anything worse.
My behavior reminds me of articles I used to read when I was a teenager about bulimics hiding candy bars and cookies for their purge sessions.
To support my habit, I swap.
In my early 20’s, a girl I knew at the time threw the first swap I had ever been to in her Manhattan loft. This young woman was very savvy and gathered all her friends in media (people who worked for magazines got lots of free stuff) as well as all of her friends working as underlings in the fashion industry (another population that acquires more free designer clothing than they will ever know what to do with).
But this swap was no free-for-all.
Every article of clothing was sorted and then presented to the room. If a woman was interested in a piece of clothing, she had to raise her hand. If more than one did, EVERYONE got the chance to try it on and then the room would vote on whom it looked the best.
Yes, this was a scene straight out of Heathers & Mean Girls and not one girlfriend I had at the time outside of this particular coven was willing to participate.
To be honest, it wasn’t that bad but just telling people about it seemed to bring such unimaginable horror to people’s faces.
I remember once a whole room gave me a jeans intervention because I was convinced they were flattering. I was wrong. No one wanted them, but no one was going to let me leave with them either.
“Please, no really, this is not how you want your ass to look.”
“Try these instead.”
“You’re right, these are so much better.”
This is a prattle I can get behind. I guess because money is not at the foundation. It reminds me more of little birds clacking at each other, making sure they are being taken care of. I blame Alicia Silverstone for this metaphor.
Because of this project, I now go to swaps all over where women from all walks of life participate. But it’s never quite the same. The women stick to their own and never try to make friends. Eyes dart around the room assessing bags, what people are laying out — and even what people are wearing — to get a sense of whether or not you might have like-minded aesthetics.
It’s competitive and vaguely dehumanizing in the same way that excessive shopping is.
In fact, all of the swapping and clothes talk is getting to me in general.
The other day I went to get my taxes done and my accountant Rus told me how he had a friend in the fashion industry who said he would be willing to organize a male clothing swap (I should back up by saying that Rus is super into this project and has been encouraging a male clothing swap segment in my film ever since I threw out idea — yes, I have the coolest accountant in the world).
His male assistant then chimed in, “I would love to do that but I have the weirdest body.”
For the past few days, I have been thinking about goofy boyish enthusiasm and thinking that maybe a different kind of prattle along the same theme might break me out of my rut.
What do you think, dear male IBC readers? If there was an all male clothing swap in your town, would you go ? What would be your concerns ? Please comment widely.