Now before I start, I just want to say that I have nothing against Lush as a company or shop (apart from from the smell obvs). I don’t want people missing the point and saying on Facebook that I don’t appreciate how much care goes into the products or anything. I mention the shop by name for context. That is all.
So. We were in Lush at the weekend, (which you’ve probably gathered by now.) It was me, my fiancé and Belle. Belle likes to go in and rub things on her hands and then make us look at them/sniff them/stroke specific patches to feel how soft they are. I was already a little out of sorts, as the smell was making me want to throw up in the jute shopping bag I was carrying, (like the good middle aged, middle class woman I am.)
We were approached by a suitably effervescent young man, offering to help us, should we need any assistance rubbing things on and off our hands.
“Do you need any help with anything?” he asked fiancé, as I was busy sniffing Belle.
“No, I’m fine thanks,” said fiancé.
“I see,” said the shop assistant, chuckling to himself, “you’re just here to carry the bags and pay!”
Fiancé saw me bristle.
Shop assistant chuckled again, oblivious to the bristle.
“Smell my hand!’ said Belle.
Am I being unreasonable to be offended by this? I know he was just making conversation, but it’s almost the casualness of statements like this that offend me so much. Firstly of course there’s the massive casual assumption that just because I’m a woman, I won’t be earning enough to pay for my own shopping, and that I need a man to do that for me. Secondly, I find it insulting on fiancé’s behalf, that as a man, all he’s good for is opening his wallet and carrying my shopping. Heaven forbid we should be out together as a family because we enjoy each other’s company. Shock horror!
And this guy was young – whatever happened to the enlightened youth, challenging the old way? What does he imagine our family set up looks like? Am I at home during the week, scrubbing pots and ironing shirts to earn my treats at the weekend? Or am I being a dick even getting worked up about it?
We left soon after, but I couldn’t shake the agitation. As we walked home I wondered – will there ever come a time when these gender stereotypes will disappear, or should I accept it as friendly banter and move on?
“Feel my hand,” said Belle, bringing me out of my internal debate, “isn’t it soft?”
“Yes darling, yes it is.”