How To Be An Anthro Girl
by KARA VANDERBIJL
It is the query on the tip of everybody’s tongue these days: how can I become an Anthropologie girl? This boutique is Urban Outfitters’ older sister, eating disorder outgrown and T-shirts intact; she wears makeup, has a job, and travels the world instead of riding around the block on her seven hundred dollar bicycle. The business supposedly caters to 30 and 40-year-old professional women who can afford their sky-high prices, but their catalogue has become the holy scriptures of every self-proclaimed “twentysomething” woman who is trying to make her way in this world. Admit it, ladies: Anthropologie is your happy place, and if you make more than $20 a week you have probably spent more within their four walls than necessary.
For those of us who can only walk past their doors with longing or browse their endless mazes of delightful fashions and home goods until we are asphyxiated by the stench of their exotic candles, here are a few tips on how to become a little bit more like Ms. Anthro:
* Shun modernity. No e-readers, Helvetica, non-whistling teapots, or mp3 players for you. You bask in the glow of a million candles at your desk while you write with a delightfully scratchy fountain pen. You will paw anything that looks like it was made circa 1960. In your most vulnerable moments, you pull an iPhone out of your Katherine Hepburn-style wide-leg pants, and pay $300 for a pair of oxfords that you will claim belonged to your grandmother.
* Use the word ‘culture’ a lot. As an Anthro girl, you are in touch with all the peoples of the world. You wear the fabrics that they made with their hands, and although the average blouse on the rack will cost you half your week’s wages and only return about a dollar to its original makers, you feel as if you are one with them. You are Elizabeth Gilbert, reveling in your spiritual transformation, your connection with the world. You might be able to say, “I got this tunic on my recent voyage to Bali.” There, you played soccer with the natives and sat silent around a campfire while they grasped your hands in peace. Your mere white presence makes their lives more tolerable, and you give them meaning by blogging about them.
* Take up eerily attractive hobbies. Nothing comes to you more naturally than riding a bicycle or the study of ancient textiles. People flock to you like moths to a flame when you mention a proclivity towards interpretive dance routines of Out of Africa. You offer workshops on flower arrangement in wind instruments at a local coffee shop.
* Talk about how much you love your city. Waxing poetic about the cramped train, the humid concrete, and the skyline you observed at sunset while standing barefoot on your fire escape in a chiffon dress constitutes the average weekday post on your blog. On the weekends, a few obscure poems delineate your emotions about an unnamed and possibly non-existent male. You show up at neighborhood bars wearing organic cotton in colors that have never before been seen in bars, and when you ask for gin, nobody cards you.
* Be wealthy, but not the kind of wealthy that makes anybody feel bad. Rather, just chuckle softly whenever you mention your latest trip to Europe or the top of the Empire State Building. “Oh, we rode camels out to Petra,” is the phrase most often uttered at the end of your summer vacations. You justify long periods of inactivity on white-sanded beaches by making sure they took place in third world countries, and you donate a dollar or so to whatever charity is currently advertising on Tumblr.
* Speak to your house plants. No comment.
* Deserve take-out. Nobody understands your depth of soul or your unique suffering. The love you experience, which you calmly and resolutely reveal by missing a button on your blouse or by weeping softly in your local subway, undeniably entitles you to eat any sort of fried food of dubious origin in the porcelain abyss of your claw-foot bathtub.
* Be a ‘natural’ woman. Nothing about you is put on; nothing about you is askance. You are at all times completely genuine and completely within your element (earth or water). You respond to crises by lighting a candle, by fingering plush towels. Plucking is out of the question. You crochet on demand, but only in penumbra.
* Never match. Yellow shoes are always acceptable. Plain black? Never.
* Always have the right dish. You have bowls specifically for walnuts, hats for afternoons spent indoors, and cups crafted for lemonade. They are charmingly chipped in all the right places. The Upholstered Chaise Lounge represents you as a person, like it did for proto-Anthro girl Betty Draper. You search high and low for ampersand-shaped coat hooks, and live in rooms comprised completely of ottomans.
* Spontaneously sleep outside. That’s what your outdoor bed is for.
* Say things like, “We’ll honeymoon in Mexico.” “I’ll put her in an immersion school when she’s born.” “Oh, I don’t eat frozen vegetables.” “This? This is the child I’m sponsoring in Nepal.” “I made these earrings from turquoise I found in the Arizona desert.” “I’d like to illustrate children’s books.”
* Become a selective eater. Refuse to eat anything not dubbed ‘organic’ OR anything that was not made whilst wearing a frilly apron OR anything that cannot be eaten with a grapefruit spoon. Revel in food groups generally embraced by the average rabbit. When asked what you ate for breakfast, your eyes glaze over and you mention tea and great gulps of oxygen. Your friends rave about your spread, but they generally mean the tablecloth underneath.
* Store things in glass jars. For some reason people still use plastic?
* Embrace the occult. Your superstitions—such as which sweater to wear while reading the morning newspaper — extend to your unguarded preference of zodiac-inspired dishtowels. You practice food augury, which you understand to mean eat as little as possible so as not to hide the design of the dish. When your favorite tea saucer breaks, you buy a new one.
* Become too knowledgeable about something. When asked about your favorite Stendhal book, your effervescent enthusiasm borders on hysteria. Medieval Italian music, multi-volume science fiction novels, and alternatives to name-brand cleaning products cause you to spasm in delight. Your eccentricity borders on social-unawareness just as your backyard borders on a virginal forest preserve. When asked your thoughts on any subject you retreat to an adjoining room moodily wearing too many scarves. “Years from now,” acquaintances whisper of you, “people will say we knew her.”
* Never be in a picture with a man, ever. You roam alone, from room to room, lit golden by the chandeliers in your lacy nightgown. Your wallpaper is peeling at the corners near the ceiling. You like the culture it creates. Another living being would upset the balance, put the brightly colored throws in disarray.
Kara VanderBijl is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Chicago. She last wrote in these pages about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. You can find her website here.
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