This week I was regretfully sent a film by Conjugal Kraken and, as usual, I expected to see a surfing kitten or a weather presenter getting a tweak in his bollocks while waving at the west of Scotland. Instead, though, I got an eyeful of something that made me want to run amok through my local cricket club with the menacing stare of the front row of a Tory party conference. Yes, I am talking about THAT Waitrose film of England’s leading female cricketers that’s been doing the rounds, the film that is to equal rights what HobNobs are to weight loss.
If you haven’t seen this digital crock of foaming shit let me enlighten you, that is unless you want to see the film for yourself by following this link. Be prepared, though because the first thing you’ll notice is music so horrific that it feels as if a shitting mouse is running through the arteries of your brain. That’s even before you get the opening scenes of the England women being gussied up for a Waitrose photoshoot in a room that wouldn’t look out of place at London Fashion Week. There, amongst make-up mountains, racks of dresses, mirrors and stylists the cricketers are seen being primped, primed, buffed, tweezed, polished and forcibly attacked with lipstick before being ushered into the Long Room at Lords to be photographed in Oscars-style frocks. This gripping film (for ‘gripping’ read ‘festering sack of cock knocking’) slithers along until the denouement where the women pose with bats, balls and wickets while dressed like Giselle Bundchen. It’s like seeing one of Geoff Boycott’s wet dreams. It was enough to make me want to re-enact The Ashes by setting fire to Kraken Kreations.
Someone needs to explain to me why anyone ever thought that this cooling piss puddle of a film was ever a good idea in the first place, that what the nation needed was to take these groundbreaking, athletic, determined, strong, proud and focused women and turn them into gurning mannequins. Exactly what is this film meant to add to the progress of the cricketing women who represent our nation? Is it to tell them that we don’t care about how they look as long as they are brilliant at their chosen sport? Is it to prove to the world that these women are about more than the application of their smoky eye make-up? Like fuck it is.
Instead this film is hollering that what really counts is making these women look gorgeous. It is claiming that nobody will bother with the England women until they’ve displayed their beauty chops by looking sexy in chiffon rather than cool in cricketing whites. Indeed, what this film suggests that until these women have been dressed and made-up to an allegedly acceptable standard of beauty they are, in fact, invisible to the naked eye. It’s the same train of thought that suggests that the cones and rods in the eyeballs of females are only capable of picking out the colour pink.
Bewilderingly, Waitrose claims that it’s made this film to mark the start of the team’s tour of New Zealand but what it does for that tour is a loss to me. It’s hardly striking fear into the hearts of the team’s opponents, not unless that fear is based on wearing the wrong shade of lipstick rather than a ball hurtling towards your head at 90 miles an hour. Oh, and nor have I seen Waitrose pimping a film whereby Joss Buttler or Joe Root get a back, sack n crack before posing in Tom Ford suits while fondling their stumps in the run up to their next tour. Well done, Waitrose, for rocking 1913!
You see, at a time where fewer and fewer women in the UK are taking up sport because of issues with body confidence this film is ramming a rusting nail into the coffin of our health. Over and again it is being reported that the pressure on young women to look flawless puts them off doing anything that makes them hot, sweaty, heaving and puce and they would rather die early than fail the current ludicrous standard of beauty. In fact the problem is such that the This Girl Can campaign was recently launched, encouraging women of all ages to, “wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement is a barrier that can be overcome”. The accompanying film and TV ads, if you haven’t seen them, are so inspirational that I dare any woman of any shape and size to not shit themselves with exhaustion after furiously exercising. Problem is that this film by Waitrose takes that enthusiasm and boils it down to the sum of a woman’s eyelashes all over again. The guys behind the This Girl Can campaign must be weeping into their tracksuits.
It’s not to say that athletes don’t want to glam up now then. I’m sure they do. I don’t give a shit about that. I do, though, give a shit about how the focus on the appearance of women generally is being compounded by our national women’s cricket team. There are a thousand pressures upon female athletes to look beautiful so imagine how much more inspirational it would be to see this team looking merciless in the face of their opponents or sweating it out in the gym? Instead we get to see them looking demure in the face of a fucking photographer.
And believe it or not, I’m not angry at Waitrose for this film. I’m just bitterly disappointed. Disappointed that Waitrose had the chance to do something different, edgy and attractive to modern female customers but instead it told women that they only count when their eyebrows are properly plucked. Forget your ability to chase a ball across a field, to outwit a fielder or bowl someone into an early grave. All that matters is proving you can be gorgeous. So yeah, however you dress it up this film is nothing but a suppurating bucket of sexism, a sexism Waitrose chose to encourage rather than eradicate. Thanks to Waitrose it really is getting too dark for women to play.