Soapbox Sunday: To have or to sell?

When I was a little girl, one of my favourite games was shops. I'd spend hours setting out all my things, usually on my bed, ready for my first (and only) customer (my sister) to come in and please herself perusing all on offer – books, porcelain dressing table ornaments, the odd bit of jewellery, ballet shoes, clothing and tapes (that's cassette tapes for you young folk). I'd usually get bored after about five minutes and pull the plug, but I've always harboured a secret desire to open my own boutique flush with things to my liking, with very nice bags and gift wrapping and comfy man couches (this, Husband says, is very important for those poor souls reluctantly dragged about by their girlfriends/wives/mistresses – he'll be far more encouraging and less likely to hurry her on if he's able to rest his tired feet).

Until I find the funds to bankroll my little shop of stuff, I have to make do with offloading my wares at the markets. It's like play-shops for grown-ups with commitment issues (and short attention spans). To date I've 'done' Kirribilli Markets twice and Bondi Markets once (that would be today). And, man, is it hard work. It's not just the physical schlepping of your load from home to car to stall, and the time you spend folding and refolding items (only to have them madly tossed about the place by the next nonchalant market goer – grrr), setting up and deconstructing tables and standing on your feet, but the hours of preparation (culling, sorting, re-culling, bagging, hanging...) and emotional tug-of-war that goes along with it (material things harbour so many memories).

Rather like having a Brazilian wax, I forget just how much work holding a stall is and eagerly anticipate the next one with all the enthusiasm of a celebrity on Jay Leno. In my delusional mind state, I imagine selling everything and making a freakin' fortune. The reality is only about a third of your stuff goes and usually for 1/1000th of what you paid for it... if you're lucky. Take, for example, one Charlie Brown winter coat – bought for around $250, sold for $10. Ouch! Or one pair of Calvin Klein Jeans, worn once – bought for $170, sold for $10. Double ouch!

As I've learnt, market retailing is all about quantity over quality. Stacks of pre-loved magazines sold at $1 per piece will disappear in seconds. CDs (already uploaded on iTunes) sold for $2 will fly off the stands. Three tops or tees for $10? Sold, sold, sold! You can't be precious about your stuff, no matter how many good memories they conjure up – on the market playing field, all clothes are created equal... and all are worth next to nix to Nancy Fancy from Neutral Bay. She doesn't care that you went on your first date with your boy in that dress; she just wants the dress for her daughter... for half of what you're asking. And then she'll rifle through a pile of your very cool shorts and skirts and turn her nose up at them (she clearly has no taste, you surmise). Or she'll try to stuff her D-cup boobs inside your size 8 jacket as you cringe behind your veil of politeness, refraining from all but telling her it looks fabulous. You need to affect a little emotional detachment from your stuff prior to market day, and lower your financial expectations, or else you'll find yourself ripping your Ksubi jeans away from some well-meaning 15-year-old who only has $5 to spend. Even though you know you'll never wear them again. You must be strong. There will be other clothes in your life.

Looking at all of the clothes I intended to sell, I felt an immense sense of guilt. How could I have possibly accumulated all of this? I am the Imelda Marcos of tee shirts! I'm like a stockbroker for middle-of-the-range labels (which are, inevitably, what I find myself selling). Why don't I have shares in Witchery/Sportsgirl/Lee/Kookai/American Apparel? Sometimes I can't even remember buying the clothes. Or they still have their price tags attached. Mother looked on with astonishment and admonishment ("Well, it's plain to see where all your money goes") as I lay everything out for assessment pre-markets in her spare room, while Husband gave off an almighty aura of smug (i.e. you have spent a ridiculous sum of money on clothes and shoes and don't have a financial leg to stand on when you get annoyed at me for spending money on my car! Ha!").

The positive thing to come of all of this is that the culling and selling has enabled me to refine my style and made me realise that I really don't need that many things to scrape by... especially as I now work from home and can get away with wearing the same shorts/singlet combo for days without anyone knowing (oops, cat's out of the bag). Sure, when you work in magazines, as apposed to blogging home about them, there is a certain level of glamour and newness to maintain and aspire to – and the girls are very encouraging of new purchases, particularly if they arrive in the office – but when your daily beauty routine turns from a full face (concealer, foundation, shadow, mascara, blush, bronzer, gloss) to naked face (Blistex and SPF moisturiser), there's really no need to break out the heels. I've also decided to spend more on a few special purchases than buying huge quantities of mid-range things, the cumulative affect of which adds up to the price of a designer item I would have held onto for years (or could have, at least, fetched a nice price at the markets).

All said and done, when approached with a realistic and opportunistic attitude, the markets can be fun. I didn't make a zillion bucks (apparently, everyone was sizzling at the beach, not shopping at the markets today, which made for a sparse crowd), but at the end of the day what wasn't sold was given to charity, which was the least I could do to appease my guilty shopaholic's conscience. And I now have space in my wardrobe, room on my shoe racks, drawers that shut and coat hangers with nothing on them. Oh, the possibilities!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Illustration credit: Style: A to Zoe

Bondi markets deets: Go to for info. A casual stall costs $65, plus $10 for insurance and $5 for tables. I recommend you take lots of small change, create signs advertising how cheap your wares are ($5 tops! $10 dresses!), take a clothing rack if possible and don't bother with pricing/labelling. Be prepared to stand around for ages – take iPod, newspaper/magazine/book, sunscreen, snacks and water – and don't be precious about reducing prices to accommodate the market-goers; if you still really love the item, stand your ground or take it off the floor but it'll inevitably just wind up back in your wardrobe taking up space and not being worn. I found Kirribilli markets to be more profitable (and I prefer the 6.30am start to a 9am one) but it could have just been today's weather keeping the crowds at bay (or the beach)...

Oh nose!

So my new year's resolution was to not buy any more weekly glossy mags because they fill my brain with filth, deprive my wallet of funds and, besides, I can get a dose of celeb when I'm feeling out of the loop on Perez. But I did chance to flick through Famous this morning (whoops!), which has dedicated a page to Jordan's recent rhinoplasty...

Jordan's just the latest of a group of substantially-snozzed celebs having their noses reshaped. First there was Ashlee Simpson...

Then we found out Gossip Girl's Blake Lively had hers done in 2006...

Then High School Musical's Ashley Tisdale revealed to People that she had her procedure done to correct a deviated septum (yeah, sure it was your septum)...

As someone with a shapely and sizable snoz (and I'm not talking button shape – there's definite beak-like curvature) who endures well-meaning comments like "Are you Italian?" (um, no) and has been the butt of more than a few nose jokes (oh, ha, yes it does get in the way!), all this corrective surgery business is a little depressing. Why do all these girls want to look generic? And why is a small nose the only way to, um, goes?

While I've considered surgery, I just can't bear the thought of how vain and shallow having it done would make me look/feel, as well as the fact the 4000-odd dollars could probably be better spent on Jimmy Choo shoes (okay, on charitable donations). I also think God made my snoz as it is for a reason (oh, I'm sooo humble). Besides, it really only bothers me now when some insensitive soul makes reference to it when my self-esteem (and sense of humour) is on holiday. Plus, two of my family members have had their snoz size reduced but I'm not sure (actually, damn sure) it's not made them happier people.

I take comfort in my dad's self-esteem-boosting assertion that he would disown me if I changed my nose, as it's unique and regal (aw, thanks dad), as well as the fact that some well-known glamours have decided to keep it real...

Gisele, who says: "I don't have one of those plastic surgery noses. I have a German nose but so what? I have a big personality as well so that goes with it. I'm definitely not the most beautiful girl in the world."

Rachel Weisz


Sophia Loren

ANTM host Jodhi Meares

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

P.S. Of course, as a woman, I reserve the right to change my mind on the surgery thing!

P.P.S. Rumour is ACP is gearing up to launch Grazia (which will totally ruin my ban-on-weeklies resolution) and current Harper's Bazaar editor Alison Veness-McGourty is linked to the launch title. Jamie Huckbody, current Harper's fashion features editor (Europe) will return to Australia in May to take over as editor, while AVM will remain as Editor in Chief.

P.P.P.S. You should most definitely read Mia Freedman's latest Sun-Herald column about Natalie Imbruglia and Daniel Johns. Very funny.

Soapbox Sunday: Women in power

I am making a major effort to understand the US election and it's giving me a headache – just like trying to get through A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius did (pass the Panadol!). You seriously need a political science degree. But my faux intellectual interest gained some genuine-interest momentum when Hillary won the New Hampshire primary. Her critics are saying she got over the line after she momentarily emoted something other than cool control when asked by a random fellow female, "How do you do it? How do you keep upbeat and so wonderful?". As the story goes, touched by the fact someone actually cared to ask how she might be doing under the circumstances, Hils almost shed a tear.

This reminds me of the whole Samantha Jones character scenario in Sex and the City. It wasn't till she had her heart broken and then got cancer that she softened up a little. The thing is, as much as we could relate to Samantha's weaker moments, her character was built up on unwavering self-confidence; we already had Carrie and Charlotte and Miranda to fill in the blanks. And, as much as I love and can most definitely relate to Carrie (I'm a Katy girl, too!), I'd rather Samantha was running the country (Carrie and I could do coffee.). I'm not sure if this is because of Samantha's masculine, straight-shooting attributes in the work place and bedroom or if I liked the way her particular brand of feminine power enabled her to control and intimidate men (grrrr!), making us believe the glass ceiling was but a myth. But is pre-cancer Samantha Jones, devoid of traditionally girlie emotion, the myth?

New York Times columnist Judith Warner reckons the Clinton victory says more about the women who voted for her than Hils herself: "I don’t for a moment begrudge Hillary her victory on Tuesday. But if victory came for the reasons we’ve been led to believe – because women voters ultimately saw in her, exhausted and near defeat, a countenance that mirrored their own – then I hate what that victory says about the state of their lives and the nature of the emotions they carry forward into this race. I hate the thought that women feel beaten down, backed into a corner, overwhelmed and near to breaking point, as Hillary appeared to be in the debate Saturday night. And I hate even more that they’ve got to see a strong, smart and savvy woman cut down to size before they can embrace her as one of their own."

My inner feminist wants to believe womankind is willing to support and encourage any fellow femme who dares to play with the boys based on her values and policies, regardless of her hairstyle, family life (or lack thereof) and ability to emote. New deputy PM Julia Gillard (a total Miranda, no?) is a case in point. I really don't care what she does when she goes home or who cuts her hair or why she's chosen not to have children (or if she slips over in her heels) – I just want her to do the right thing by our country. But, at the same time, I expect her to represent feminine interests in parliament; to be a champion for women aspiring to senior managerial and political roles. And I would think American women would expect the same from Clinton, who has thus far avoided going down the I-am-woman-here-me-roar route (lest she alienate half the population). But do we really need them to be more 'real' by revealing their shortcomings, by having a cry? 'Cause even in workplaces around the country, women would rather have a bawl in the bathroom than let on to their co-workers that they're not completely in control.

This week Jezebel posted a small tribute to Lisa Simpson, who, I imagine, Hillary would have been like as a pre-law-school youngster trying to compete with the boys while making friends with the girls on campus (I'm stretching to tie this up here, people): "Lisa Simpson is... curious, outspoken, dedicated, and tries to be socially-conscious. But she's still vulnerable to the trappings of femininity, like body image issues, and easily seduced by the fun indulgences of girlhood, like ponies, unicorns, and her Malibu Stacy doll. In a clip from an old Simpsons episode, Lisa comes to the same realization about Stacy that most of us came to about Barbie -- that her image and cultivated personality are sexist representations of women. The problem is, she is fun, and pretty, and lives in a pink mansion! God! Why is being a girl so fu*#@ng complicated?"

In response, Jezebel commentator Vivdarkbloom said: "Hey, I played with dinosaurs AND Barbies. I can wear pink and read fashion magazines while collecting books about world politics. And I don't feel a single bit conflicted about any of it."

Should this new feminism, one which allows women to be lawyers who read Vogue and worry about their weight (a sort of Sex and the City brand), be the standard by which we judge our female leaders, or should we expect them to tough it out and suck it up like men?

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel