Lately, I have gotten quite into sending emails to complain about things. As well as being the professionally offended, I have always aspired to be the kind of business suit wearing woman that can send meals back in restaurants in a resolute, but yet polite fashion, and whose meal then arrives back, exactly as she asked for. When I imagine this woman Brass in Pocket immediately begins to play in my head, and I have realised that I have perhaps internalised every woman from every 90's movie ever made. And while I have internalised every wise and cloyingly scripted word that Meg Ryan has ever said on film, before In the Cut at least, I am yet to become this assertive woman. Come to think of it, Meg Ryan is a really shitty example of an assertive woman, particularly in You've Got Mail when Tom Hanks is an asshole and buys out her little book shop. Or does something to her book shop, and therefore her freedom, I forget what exactly. Miranda from Sex and the City would have been a better example. Those movies are dead to me, but I will forever love Miranda-from-the-TV-series for complaining about not having time to schedule her abortion. Now that's assertive.
But failing to be that assertive, and working at an office that really is barely business casual even on a day when the CEO is visiting and therefore having no need to own a business suit, I have been using the Internet. Probably wearing bike shorts. I have been signing a few petitions here; sending some emails there; leaving self-righteous and idealistic comments on news websites everywhere. After my inbox began to fill with sanctimonious replies to my complaints, and after I received about 789 Facebook notifications over a fight on the Internet about International No Diet Day, I thought that perhaps I could start some kind of stand up comedy show where I re-enacted these fights from the Internet. Similar, and only slightly different, to slandering all the Facebook fat shamers in a feminist play. I have just realised that I am possibly in a creative rut. My design propositions for the show were elementary at best, and classist at worst, revolving around having a hat stand with different hats which I would put on to represent each of my opponents. When I realised that this possibly wasn't dramaturgy at its finest I thought that instead I might use this on the blog.
A couple of weeks ago I sent at email to Michael Hightsead, who did the advertising for the vaguely recent Wellington Musical Theatre production of Miss Saigon. And, how surprising, I found the Miss Saigon advertising really offensive. And so I complained about it, feeling virtuous as I clicked send, because I really was fighting the apathy that permeates my generation, and doing far more for the good of the world than joining one of those irritating but also guilt inflicting CLICK TO GIVE EVERYONE FREE RICE AND A MAMMOGRAM websites.
Unfortunately, this is the biggest picture that I could find of one of their insipid billboards. Even though their website has animated helicopters with spinning wings, they don't appear to have uploaded any of their shitty promotional material. I tried to blow it up for you, but I failed. Anyway, the words say "Guys, buy her a ticket. Call it an investment". They have another equally boring billboard which says something like "Take a hankie... You too ladies". Yawn. I sent this to Michael:
To Whom It May Concern,
As a regular theatre goer I am contacting you about your Miss Saigon advertising. I think it is a terrible shame that you could not advertise the show to men without objectifying, demeaning and offending women. Saying a ticket to the show is an investment is offensive, and it implies that a circumstance could arise where a woman would owe a man sex. The other adverts, such as the one about hankies, were equally offensive in their banal perpetuation of gender stereotypes. Disappointing, and I have not attended the show based on these reasons.Sincerely,Ally Garrett
Even though I actually really wouldn't have gone and seen the show, because Miss Saigon is filed under a special folder in my brain, that folder being The Musicals That I Hate. Michael emailed me back by saying:
Hi AllyI apologise for the delay in responding to your e-mail - I have been out of Wellington since 29/4Thanks for taking the time to convey your views on our MS advertising campaign - Certainly it was never our intention to offend anyone with the content of our billboard advertising, rather it was an attempt to add a little humour into the campaign and I have to say we have had an incredible amount of positive feedback in this regard.It is acknowledged that there will always be a conflicting viewpoint and I am sorry you were offended by the 'scripting' in this regard especially as it resulted in you missing what could and was often described as a production of international quality.RegardsMichael HighstedBusiness ManagerWellington Musical Theatre
And then I emailed back:
Hello Michael,How incredibly patronising.Ally.
Which at least gave me some sort of satisfaction, especially as Michael declined to stoop to my embarrassing level of communication, that level of communication being the exchange of insults. And as I got the last word, at least I can smugly assume that I won. I had a better time recently complaining about cheese.
There is perhaps nothing that I love more than cheese, and I have said upon more than one occasion that I would be perfectly happy to have my wedding cake made out of haloumi. Perhaps with a thin spread of chutney, or Cheese Sidekick as I like to call it, to masquerade as icing. But Kaimai Cheese Company do really lovely cheeses, and I really liked going to the Chaffers Markets in Wellington on a Sunday and buying some of their red cheddar. When I found out that it had been discontinued I became so distraught that it inspired the following flowery and melodramatic email:
See? And their bras are pretty beautiful. That is one of them up there at the start of the post. (Although the pictures of the bras on their website are a bit weird, why you gotta crop your model's heads off DimitySO?) But, when I went into Farmers or Kirks or something to look at the DimitySO bras I was pissed off. Probably would actually go so far to say that I was offended. Because they only make the bras up to size to 16. I read that Jezebel article recently about how most lingerie designers don't make bigger bras, because they require bigger effort. I think this is kind of a shitty excuse, and think that maybe these designers need to aim a little higher. Especially because I feel like every week I read the same recycled article about how the average bra size is rising, and the most common cup size is DD and the average dress size in New Zealand is size 14. But I don't think that DimitySO even get to use that excuse because they are all about the ladies with the bigger tits. But apparently, not the ladies with the bigger backs. Their promotional material reads: '"Sighs of relief have echoed across the world. No longer must fashionable women with D – J cups sizes be relegated to the horrific world of 'nanna' lingerie." Come on DimitySO, can't the fat ladies be fashionable too? And so, I sent them an email:
Hi there DimitySO!
I think your bras are just gorgeous. I am a size 16 lady, but I wear a size 18 bra because of my broad back.
It is so sad that I can't wear your lovely bras, especially because you
pride yourself on being for ladies with bigger boobs, but so many of
those ladies also have bigger backs!
Anyway, I would one day love to be able to wear one of your gorgeous
To be honest, I am not a size 16 lady. I am maybe a size 16 lady after a recent bout of food poisoning, but right now this body that I am sitting in here typing in is not a size 16. It is more like a size 18, but sometimes needing a size 20 bra because of the bigger back thing. I don't know why I felt the need to lie to the strangers at DimitySO. Maybe that is incredibly problematic in itself and as well as the business woman and Meg Ryan I have also inevitably internalised a whole lot of body shame and I need to save it up for another post. Or maybe I was just worried that DimitySO had a touch of the Karl Lagerfeld and didn't want to see fat chicks in their garments. Anyway, this is what they wrote back:
Thanks for your email.
I am actually a size 18D but wear DimitySO in a 16DD which is the same size cup just a little smaller around the body, so I wear them on the last hook.
Although not ideal, you could look at using a bra extender. This attaches to the existing hooks and eyes and gives you another 4-5 cm at least around the body. The only downside to these is that the straps sit a little further out to the side than they were designed to do, but many people use bra extenders as an option.
I imagine that as the brand grows other sizing's will be added - I hope so anyway.
I will send you comments through to the DimitySO designers to show your interest in this.
Customer / Consumer Service Co-ordinator | Bendon Limited P O Box 53042,
Auckland Airport, Auckland | 8 Airpark Drive, Airport Oaks, Mangere,
D +64 9 257 1696 | F +64 9 257 1600
Which I found kind of interesting. On one hand, that is great that Shelley is going to send my comments through to the designers, and maybe everyone who is reading this blog and who cares about my boobs should also send them an email. But also, Shelley! Shelley, who works for a lingerie company is comitting the cardinal sin of admitting she wears the wrong size bra, because the company she works for doesn't make anything in her size. And whenever I read that recycled article about average bra sizes I also read about how having a crappily fitted bra gives you headaches and back aches and neck aches and all of the other aches. So, that sucks for Shelley. And the general dearth of fashionable, fun and affordable plus size clothing, underwear included, sucks for everyone. In the society we live in, people have gotta wear clothes. Most of the time. And also, that argument about plus size clothing encouraging people to be fat is fucking bullshit. People just want to be warm and if they want to follow trends and express themselves then, by god, they should be able to. Seriously people, untapped market. Apart from ASOS Curve, cos that shit is good. And sometimes it would be cool if I didn't have to look for jersey fabrics or pay with pounds online to put clothes on my body. Or to put wire under my tits.