I took my younger sister up to London last week. We had tickets to go on a Harry Potter walking tour of the city during the afternoon, but we figured we go up early and go in a few favourite shops. Whenever I venture up town, the only places I ever really want to go are to my favourite bookshops: Foyles Charring Cross Road and Waterstone’s Piccadilly.
My sister, however, wanted to pop over to Forever 21. So I thought to myself ‘Ooh, good idea. I haven’t bought new clothes for ages; I could really do with some.’ It’s a bloody big shop, three whole floors of clothes, I was sure to find something, right? I did. I saw racks and racks of stuff I’d love to wear, and a lot that scared me to be honest... I took a few bits to try on. I hated everything. Nothing sat right. It made me look huge. Or old. Or 12.
The shop I filled with thigh-skimming skirts and dresses, crop tops and see through backs. They’re made for 13-year-olds with no body and models, who look pretty similar. Then I realised that actually, that’s not just Forever 21. I looked down at my Next jeans and band t-shirt and felt so worthless and wrong and uncomfortable in my own skin. These clothes aren’t for people like me. So we left empty handed and headed for Foyles.
There I got to chat to the lovely @kateweasel and feasted my eyes on the rows and rows of worlds ready to be taken home. I slowly started to feel like myself again. I buy books because you don’t have to look a certain way, be a certain way, act a certain way. There aren’t certain books you can’t read because you don’t really feel comfortable flashing your pants or ones that you have to avoid for fear of the world seeing your muffin top.
When friends ask me if I want to go into town or go shopping with them, my standard response is “Yeah, sure. Can we pop into Waterstone’s* while we’re there. I won’t be long, I promise**.” And I guarantee you that I will feel completely shit as I walk around clothes shops seeing things I can never wear and hating the things that I can until I step foot in a bookshop and stroke the pretty books.
So I buy books. They’re cheaper too.
*Or the Oxfam Bookshop if I’m in Bath!