Be yourself; everyone else is already taken
Somewhere, carefully wrapped at the back of my wardrobe is a pair of brand new, shiny beige L.K. Bennet shoes. They are a size 7, half a size too big for me so there they sit untouched, pristine. You might ask why I bought them as they don’t fit and are therefore technically of no use. Well the reason is, because Princess Kate has a pair in this exact same style, as you will have spotted in several major magazines if you are a fan, she wears them at many social occasions and looks amazing as always. I have been googling these LK Bennet shoes for some time but they have a ‘high street’ price of £200, just not an option when I have four children and therefore many other slightly more important expenses. Incidentally, I love the way it is commonly reported that Kate wears high street fashion, I’m sure she does but it isn’t quite the same high street as the rest of us. I call New Look or Next high street fashion, but you don’t see her sporting any of that, not that I blame her, why have hamburger when you can have steak?
Anyway, I digress, the fact is, I promised myself that one day, when I have some spare money(ha ha), I would buy myself these shoes. I know it is a bit sad, but I guess maybe I felt as though if I had a pair of these iconic heels, the exact same ones belonging to Kate, I might be able to be a bit like her. It was as if through some miracle, I might suddenly morph into a 5ft 11, size 6, style icon with amazing skinny legs, instead of a slightly overweight, mother with varicose veins and pretty obvious grey hairs. Yes I know, crazy but it is a bit like buying into part of the dream.
So imagine my delight when I had a chance to escape the mundane every day routine and disappear to an outlet village without the kids, where they had an L.K.Bennet store. It was there they had the exact pair of shoes that I had been looking for but in a size 8, which was far too big. I picked up the shoes and stroked them reverently with my finger as though they were a precious gem. The lovely shop assistant said they didn’t have any more out the back but one of their stores elsewhere might have my size. A couple of phone calls later and I was going to receive the precious shoes through the post, albeit in a half size bigger. Cinderella like, I hoped they might have fitted, especially as in some shoes, I need to wear a slightly bigger size.
So this is how I come to have a pair of Kate’s shoes sitting in my wardrobe, well not Kate’s actual shoes but some exactly like them. This should have made me happy, now I can be a style icon.
Yet over this past few months since hitting my early forties, something in me seems to have changed. My husband said I used to ‘stalk Princess Kate,’ he exaggerates of course, but I did google her latest looks and outfits. She is so beautiful and I wanted to be like her, copy her hair-styles, her look. Yet what I hadn’t realized was that looking at these perfectly manufactured images and trying to copy them wasn’t making me happy. I was miserable because although I have long brown hair, I do not have Kate’s figure or her budget or her stylist, hairdresser, nanny, personal trainer, chef or fabulous lifestyle.
I am a Real Mum – I do have thread veins, stretch marks, New Look outfits nice and baggy that I can hide in for Zumba. I know, glamorous isn’t it – I go to the hairdresser once every six months for a trim, in my house I am the nanny, the nurse, the agony aunt, the mother, the cleaner, gardener, chef, personal assistant, writer, manager of building projects and just about everything else that needs doing. ….But do you know what, now I realise I wouldn’t swap with Kate? I used to think it would be a dream come true, but I have suddenly realized I wouldn’t want to. Yes I’m exhausted and an occasional break might be in order but I would miss all this really.
And it has taken reaching middle age, to realise it. Perhaps I have finally grown up, well a bit anyway. If I were Kate, I would have to stand for hours at opening ceremonies, Church Services with everyone watching me, cameras and people.. They would be noticing if I looked a bit sad or pale or if I itched my nose or if I had to go out to the toilet. How does she cope when she has period cramps or just isn’t in the mood? I love meeting people but imagine having to do it all the time, always having the right thing to say up your sleeve, always on show. She simply can’t have any bad hair days or wardrobe malfunctions or that all too familiar sneaky bloating that comes with PMT without the whole nation reporting it. I also feel sorry for Kate once again having such terrible morning sickness, as I remember that desperate, ‘I just want to lie there hoping the hideous nausea will end’ feeling during the first months of pregnancy.
All in all, I finally realize that I need to appreciate being me because no one else is. I like being different, an individual. So I don’t look at Kate’s perfect life any more or treasure the carefully posed pictures of her, because it isn’t real, it is ‘une belle image’ as Simone de Beauvoir would put it. In truth, whilst I was busy envying Princess Kate, I wasn’t enjoying the true joys of my own life.
So as a result, the treasured LK Bennet shoes are going on Ebay. I’m sure someone has size 7 feet – or perhaps Princess Kate needs a new pair?