I’ve had a few deep-and-meaningful chats lately with various people, about my plans for the future, my past, the way I feel about myself.
The other day, I was talking to a lady who lived in Australia for a number of years, returning in May last year. I mentioned Primark, and she had no idea what I was talking about.
I explained to her: it’s a shop where all the clothes are really cheap, but not fabulously made. She pulled a face. I told her it was good for stocking up on t shirts and underwear, or if you needed a cheap pair of jeans. She pulled another face. I said it was good if you were thinking of trying out a new style or trend and didn’t want to waste a lot of money if you weren’t sure. She pulled a face.
Eventually she said, “do you really think so badly of yourself, that you would only spend £2.50 on underwear for yourself? Are you not worth a bit more?”
I think perhaps she makes a valid point.
I used to buy a lot of underwear. I unconsciously stopped wearing my beautiful matching sets when I started seeing the ex. It wasn’t something I realised I had done until recently. It sounds silly, but I didn’t want to wear my nice underwear in his house. Then I got pregnant, then I was breastfeeding, and now I’m a completely different size. I can’t bring myself to throw any of it away, so I have a black bag filled with gorgeous underwear sets in the back of my cupboard upstairs.
For the last couple of years, I have been buying multi-packs of plain black pants in Primark, and just wearing those. I have a drawer filled with just plain black pants. Literally nothing else. Last time I went to Primark, I branched out a little and bought a patterned set instead – but still the cheapest, nastiest underwear you can get. After speaking to my friend, I went and found all my lovely underwear in the back of my cupboard. The bras are useless to me now, but some of the knickers still fit – and look and feel a hundred times better than the boring black ones!
During my conversation with this lady, we also talked about where I live. For those who don’t know, I live in a first-floor maisonette on a council estate. It is arguably the “roughest” council estate in this area (this is a very affluent area so it’s not gangland warfare or anything) and has certainly always had the worst reputation. I’ve a friend who moved to this estate from Fulham in the 1980s, and wondered what the hell he had let himself in for. I don’t like it here. But when I moved here, I didn’t have a great deal of choice over where I lived – and I was pretty much at rock bottom, confidence-wise. When I moved in here, I was little more than a puppet with someone else pulling the strings. This lady’s opinion was the same as with the underwear – I clearly didn’t value myself very much when I moved in here. She’s right, of course.
So perhaps she’s right about Primark as well. Perhaps I should value myself a little more highly than paying £2.50 for 5 pairs of plain black pants. Perhaps I should aim a little higher than jeans that are cheap but don’t fit well, or tops that are cheap but lose their shape quickly and look awful. It’s all very well saying “but I have a toddler…” but should I really wear exclusively shit clothing just in case some poster paint is splashed in my direction? I think not!
The other week, I went to a local independent underwear shop and spent what I would consider to be a small fortune on one bra. One bra that was fitted by a lady so good at her job, she didn’t even have a tape measure on the counter, much less around her neck. She took one look at me, went into the stock room and came out with a beautiful, coral-coloured bra that fit me perfectly. When I wear it, I stand straighter. I know I look good, even with a cheap jumper over the top of my fabulous bra.
Perhaps I shall do this more often. Perhaps my friend is right.
What is your underwear saying about you?