I look better in Topshop

English: The outside of oxford street london s...

English: The outside of oxford street london store of Topshop, the major fashion retailer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite my fear that one day soon, alarms will sound off as I enter Topshop, and a voice over a loud Tannoy will shout, ‘you are too old to shop here, please leave the store immediately,’ it is still on my shopping hit list. And I was in one of their changing rooms the other day, and I have to say, it was a fairly pleasant experience. I say fairly, because I’m not sure any of us take great pleasure from a close-up, full-length view of ourselves (especially when you take your jeans off and have that sexy sock and underwear look going on). But the lighting wasn’t too harsh and everything looked, well, okay.

Fast forward ten minutes, to the Marks and Spencer’s changing room, and there was nothing pleasant about the experience. The lighting was so bright and artificial, that every one of my imperfections was magnified into a frighteningly clear view; I looked like one large mass of saggy skin, stretch marks and cellulite. Nice.

As I left, I felt pretty low about myself and spent the rest of the afternoon planning to never eat Green and Black’s again, and to step up my exercise regime to Gwyneth Paltrow levels. I realise I can’t blame my body insecurities on M&S, but come on, would it hurt to have some slightly more flattering lighting?

I don’t know the marketing strategies for these stores, but I am pretty sure I am at the top end of the age bracket for Topshop – so yes, in a shop that normally points its mirrors at younger, prettier, more nubile flesh, they have managed to find lighting that isn’t cruel. But in a shop, where I am more age appropriate, but certainly not the oldest shopper in there (and at a size 10, probably at the lower end of the size of shopper), where perhaps a little more kindness is needed, I was met with ‘kill me now’ lighting.

But what really amused me, was the juxtaposition of the M&S changing room experience with their current advertising campaign: For Every Woman You Are. The celebrity faces have been ditched (gone are Twiggy, Dannii and Myleene) and instead there are a group of models of all shapes, sizes and ages (from 20 to 57, and from size 8 to 16), to represent ‘normal’ women.

I’m all for celebrating the wonderful variety of women out there, but in their celebration, M&S have not ditched the airbrush. One of the adverts within the current campaign features the women wearing underwear. Yes, they are all different shapes, sizes, and ages, but there is not a stretch mark, or a hint of cellulite in sight. And that’s fine, this is advertising, I get it. Imperfections are not seductive. But they are not in the changing room, either.

I know I am not perfect, and I don’t expect to step into a changing room and look like an airbrushed model, but I would like to look less awful – and I suspect other women shopping feel the same. So until the alarms in Topshop do go off, and I am physically removed, you will find me seeking comfort with kinder lighting. Anyway, I’m way too cool for M&S. Way.

8 thoughts on “I look better in Topshop

  1. Yes changing rooms could be so much better, just think how happy we would all be with a little better lighting, a comfortable seat and a bowl of mini green and black bars to dip into on the way out! 🙂 x

    • Can you imagine if there was Green and Black’s in a changing room, oh my… But they’d see me coming and hide the chocolate: ‘there’s that woman who always empties the bowl!’

      Hope all is good with you, lovely…


  2. Yipeee for Topshop! I worked for them for 9 years in creative team before becomming unwell and I can tell you in recent years their target customer has definitely changed! When I started the brand was mainly aimed at the 17-25 age group but it’s been slowly moving up the age bracket for years now.. So relax Mrs!.. You can (and do) look fabulous at any age, and as you say, anything beats M and S stark lighting in the changing rooms! Topshop has become more and more about the ” experience” and I’m glad you noticed!! Ha. Hope you picked up some beautiful pieces! Xxx

    • Hey Cara

      Oh, this is so interesting (and nine years of Topshop discount, ‘well jell’!)

      I think Topshop is a fabulous shopping experience: I always think it’s like a sweet shop of fashion. We have a large store in Nottingham and it’s always merchandised beautifully – it even has a Kurt Geiger within. And the staff are always so helpful (and if they do think I’m too old, they don’t let it show in their eyes!).

      I’m sure it made you feel sad, lovely, to think about having to give up your job due to stupid, annoying CFS. I hope you are doing okay…


  3. Ah ha..it’s not just me then! I had a horrible experience with a rear view mirror when trying on some underwear recently in M&S. Frankly I had not looked at a view from behind for years. Despite being a size 12, things were not as they were in my 20’s when I last looked! I am now 39! When I came out of the cubicle (not buying any of the stupid underwear and planning to head straight for some chocolate) all these people milling around were falling about laughing. Funny, I thought…. then I realised they were all looking at me …and laughing. It transpired that I had without realising it, in my state of shock, announced what I was thinking out loud. Something along the lines of ….”Bloody hell! That’s not right. It didn’t look like that last time. It’s all wrong…I’ve had enough. I need cake.” What’s a girl to do?! 🙂

    • Oh Jo, I love this!

      But surely one of those laughing should have been kind enough to get the traumatised you a big fat piece of cake?!

      Can I recommend purchasing the underwear without trying it on and taking it down to the Topshop changing rooms, where it will be safe to take in that rear view…


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