Standard Issue (for women)

Before I launch into a massive long ramble, I just need to say one thing. If I don’t say this one thing, I may explode and then onion soup will be off the menu tonight as my husband will be the recipient of my death in service benefit and will never have to work again.

I GOT RETWEETED BY SARAH-BLOODY-MILLICAN! WHILE I WAS BUYING ONIONS!

At the risk of being a bit of a fan girl, it made my nipples get a bit hard. There, I said it.

That feels better – or it might just be that I’ve had a poo and taken my jeans off and I’m in my standard after work attire of massively baggy sweatpants. The poo is the not the reason the jeans came off, just so we’re all clear.

Back to “The Ramble”, as it were. Last night, after I’d finished a call with my tutor about the panic of my assignment, the 11 plus exam and my lifelong inability to understand maths, I stumbled on an e-zine called Standard Issue UK. I say stumbled, people on my recently resurrected Twitter feed were busy re-tweeting and favouriting (is that even a word?) various articles from Standard Issue UK, so naturally the curious cat in me had to know what all the cool kids were reading- I’m easily led. It’s one of the reasons I drank a litre of Southern Comfort in my 1st year at uni and went to sleep in the bathroom using a 12 pack of toilet roll as a pillow. I digress. Again. Sorry.

I was 18 – not 12

So, there I was having a good nosy around and looking at what the cool kids were reading and writing about and then it hit me that this was a really funny, fresh and honest magazine that happened to be for women, written by women but wasn’t making me feel (as my Tweet said) “fat, shit, guilty, bored or depressed”. The latter being the most important having spent the last 12 years on a cycle of depressive breakdowns at roughly 2 year intervals. My depression wasn’t caused by women’s magazines, although that would make for an excellent study someday. No, it’s just my own brain chemistry on the fritz at varying points – this isn’t the time to discuss such things though.

Fan girl status = complete

Fan girl status = complete

As I flicked around the site, what really struck me was how bloody honest the writing was. There’s no faff, no frill and no element of snooty “this is what it takes to be a perfect woman” that so many glossy magazines seem to exude from the fat spines and airbrushed cover shots. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve bought my fair share of them on that very basis. That I too could have the legs of a baby giraffe and the skin of a baby if only I follow these 10 fool-proof steps. That I too could have the best sex/orgasm (delete depending on month) of my life if only I followed this handy little guide and stood on my head at the same time. That I too could write a novel using only the dirt from the window sill and exist on dew to ensure all my bills were paid. It’s not a new formula, nor is it one I’m new to. Throughout my teens I spent a stupid amount of time trying, and failing, to sneak copies of Just 17, Bliss, Mizz, Sugar and the even racier Cosmo into my room. It never worked and they would always be found and lambasted as trash and crap and “not even proper writing”. I wasn’t a cool teenager and I’m nowhere near a cool adult.

Teen mags

My teenage years were the usual hormonal maelstrom with an added bonus of a sexuality I knew sweet fuck all about and tried my damnedest to ignore. Ignore it I did, choosing the even more uncool route of working from the tender age of 12 (in a hair salon) and horses, although not at the same time. I can do a mean tail plait, should you even need one. I didn’t know how to talk to boys unless I was being rude to them and hoping they wouldn’t laugh at me or think I was fat. My first boyfriend was more of an accident than a deliberate attempt to have a boyfriend and it lasted all of one “date” to the cinema and a few notes passed by a friend who caught the same train. I went to an all girls school. My burning love, my teenage desires, were fixed firmly in the girl camp. That someone was cool, athletic, funny and just a bit cocky and to this day doesn’t know the lust she inspired. All the while, these teenage training magazines told me it was “guys” who I should fancy, boys that I should be trying to keep out or in, depending on the publication, of my knickers.

The reason for my rambling (and I do have one) is to say thank you to Standard Issue UK, for not being shit. I’m a 32-year-old married woman of indeterminate sexuality (spent 10 years in same sex relationships and now married to Husband), who is a bit fat (me not Husband), has OK hair that will never be smooth and swishy, who can cook but isn’t Bake Off standard, who loves faffing about with some wool to make stuff for other people. I can’t wear high heels but would love to. I’m kind to people but I’m not the life and soul of the party. I don’t drink (again, that old brain issue) and I’ve not got a mortgage. I adopted a cat but don’t have kids, I’m only just working out that I don’t want to be a Facilities Manager for the rest of my life and that retraining to be a midwife is what I want to do. I can run a bit, sew a bit, write a bit and cook a bit. I’m not cool, I’m not glamorous and I’m not even that much of a writer but fucking hell, I know what writing I do like. I like writers that tell the truth, even if it’s not what we want to hear. I like companies that support the little people i.e. Who Made Your Pants? I LOVE funny women; women who make lists and don’t apologise for it, women who will happily try out new food and be honest about it, women who don’t paint parenthood as rosy and bright when it isn’t.

My tweet has gone a bit bonkers, I only meant to express how much I like this new mag. I never expected people to agree with me quite so much – but I’m glad they do. The link is now saved as a favourite and it runs in the background when I’m pulling my hair out trying to come up with a research proposal for my coursework. I have come to think of it, in just 24 hours, as a friend I could make tea for and she would help herself to the contents of my cupboards, fridge and would then stay for dinner.

A friend. We can never have enough of them. Onion soup and Gruyere crouton’s for dinner. Help yourself.

If you feel like a natter, about soup, crochet, horse tails or anything else, drop me a line.

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