I stumbled onto the wonder that is Fleabay, online classifieds. The working class equivalent of vintage, no recycled or pre-loved monikers to soften the blow, no Saturday morning traipse around the charity shops. Fleabay is second hand – or die trying. It sells everything. A collection of shoes, sizes three to nine (how many people are in your family, exactly? And why so many feet?), drum kit (“played once”), One Direction duvet set (“daughter scared of it”).
On Fleabay, I see a Superwoman dress. It’s in my size.
A noisy thing, primary colours shouting, Superwoman logo printed on plasticky cloth, belt drawn on, it has a suspicious shine. It’s a second skin, clinging over breasts, hips and bottom, no cute nipping in at the waist, no flared skirt to hide a pot belly. A squeeze-into frock with hem mid-thigh on the shortest of women (a knicker-skimmer on me) – and like Fleabay, irony free. I just know the belt will ride up, printed on belts never stay where they’re meant to, inching northwards with every breath. I know it will look awful on me, unflattering, and yet…
A few months ago I read Shelley Harris’ magnificent novel Vigilante. Harris’ heroine, ignored by her family and husband and the world, fashions herself a superhero costume, goes out at night and fights crime. It’s the best feminist novel I’ve read since Nina De La Mer’s Layla.
While I read it, I was like, “every woman needs to read this”.
“Ok,” said my husband, not listening. “I will, sometime.”
“Hell, that’s an idea! Every MAN needs to read this!”
The idea of a woman gone invisible to the world restoring justice and her sense of self is fucking brilliant. So now, post-Vigilante, I’m looking at this dress on Fleabay and I‘m wondering, dreaming.
The dress is only a fiver. I could hang it in the wardrobe and look at it. I’ll know it’s there, just in case. In case I need to wear it and sort out the world. I like this, the way I’m thinking now.
But the dress has no cape. Super heroines need a cape. Everybody knows that. A super heroine without a cape won’t fly.
I eye up the curtains in the spare bedroom and wonder what could be.
I have an essay on sisterhood in Walking In The Feminine: A Stepping In Our Shoes Anthology, released this month.