Friday, March 27, 2009

Free Gift With Purchase: A Tale of Two Bags

March 28, 2009 1:59 am

Free Gift With Purchase: A Tale of Two Bags

Bag Number One (mille grazie to Turbo Jennie for the tip!):

The question must be asked: Who is this bag for?

Men enjoy looking at scantily clad supermodels and yet do not generally use tote bags. Women use tote bags but generally do not enjoy looking at photoshopped scantily clad supermodels. So who on earth is this “deal” being marketed to?

I think I have the answer and it depresses me. Victoria’s Secret is targeting women who are so insecure that they must wear on their arm a desperate bid for male attention. They want the men to look but don’t trust themselves to turn the heads. It’s genius really, because what is an insecure woman desperate for male attention, no matter how cheap the trick, to do? Why, head into the shop and buy up armloads of things to nip and tuck, push up and hold in, and of course - sexify! That the stuff is pricey (seriously, there’s so little fabric that if you went by the price per ounce it would probably be worth more than gold) is of little regard when it comes down to making yourself feel better. Moral: retail therapy is a short-lived high but credit card debt is forever!

Now don’t get me wrong, a well-fitting bra can do wonders for a girl’s self esteem. (Quick check! Men, avert your eyes. Women, look down. Do your pointer sisters line up with your elbows? That would be anatomically incorrect. Seek help of the lift and separate variety immediately. Bonus: it will make you look thinner instantly!) In fact, I’m wearing one of Victoria’s little secrets right now. But if it weren’t for the necessity of the trial by fire, er, fitting room, I would order all my bras online because walking into that store is one of the surest ways I’ve found to feel like total crap in ten seconds or less.

And now they want me to take that crappy feeling with me everywhere I go via a tote bag? Oh, you need change for a five? Hold on, I’ve got ones right here in my… huh, look at those perky bosoms. And that flat stomach. Didn’t that one just have a baby like 3 months ago? Where are her stretch marks?! How come I don’t bounce back that fast? Shouldn’t all of her hair be falling out right about now? Is she wearing a wig? Wait… what did you need again? I’m sorry I can’t help you, I have to go buy some diet pills now. But hey, at least that hot guy walking by checked me out! Total double take!! Or maybe he was just looking at my bag. Huh. Wait - did I just say “bosoms”? Add wrinkle cream to the list.

Bag Number Two:

It’s a humanitarian aid kit. Tonight about 30 women from my neighborhood gathered at my church to assemble various kits to be shipped around the world to aid the war- and poverty-stricken. Some of us put together school bags with rudimentary educational supplies for children who often walk miles to get to a one-room school and subsist on one meal a day. Others made newborn kits so that infants and laboring mothers would have basic sterile birthing tools and a warm outfit to take the baby home in. Still others of us stitched blankets designed to be soft and warm for kids stranded in hard, cold refugee camps. Myself, I helped sew mittens and baby booties to protect little fingers and toes.

As we worked, we chatted and laughed. We ate tres leches cake. We learned some basic first aid. And we all got a free gift. But it wasn’t a tote bag. It was something much better - a deep feeling of love and respect. For each other. For humanity. For ourselves, even. My thighs may have cellulite but my fingers cut out 20 pairs of mittens. My hips may be tight in my jeans but my hands folded yards of soft fleece for blankies (and silently blessed all the babies they would wrap.) My stomach may be flabby but the children that made it so also made my heart so big that I have the capacity - nay, the duty - to love every other mother’s children.

There is no foundation garment, no self-help book, no cream, no powder, no thing, that could make me feel as good about myself as holding that small bag in that small meeting in that small church in my small city did. I may be small but my heart is so very big.

So, for those of you following along with this month’s challenge, I encourage you to include a service goal on your “perfect” list if you haven’t already. (Also, note that perfect is in quotes. We’re not striving to be perfect in everything all the time - that’s just crazy making - but rather to be perfect in making a few small changes that will have big effects.) The month has just begun but already I’m thinking that goal to do one act of charity a day will turn out to be the best part of my Experiment.

How are you doing with your goals? In case anyone’s keeping track, I lost my mouthwash.