What did you want to be when you were little? An air hostess?
I wanted to be Tracy Thackery. She lived on our street, this Shirley Temple clone who was everything I wasn’t; petite and pretty, with dark ringlets, wide blue eyes, dimples - and an only child.
She was allowed chocolate biscuits for breakfast and owned the clothes, the shoes and the toys I silently yearned for. My parents had three kids and a tight budget to manage. Impractical white, square-toed Clark’s T-bar sandals and the latest from Ladybird were out of the question.
I was tall and lanky, with stringy blonde hair, NHS glasses and a brace. I was the girl in the BHS faux kilt forever pulling up slightly grey socks as I trailed in Tracy’s Daz-bright, Lux-scented wake.
My aura was of Vozene shampoo and Wright’s coal tar soap, its sensible, medicated practicality denoting just how different our worlds were, but four doors apart. I used to go to sleep wishing I could wake up as Tracy, the perfect girl.
It strikes me now, having read a new E-fit for the perfect Sheffield woman, composed after a location-based dating app quizzed 2,000 men, just how stereotypical my worship of Tracy was. Though you can forgive me: I was nine. It’s today’s men who need to be given a wake-up call.
Their ideal female is Tracy all grown up; she’s a 5’6, 9stone, blue-eyed brunette and essentially feminine (prerequisite: nurse, white wine-drinker, slim, no tatts, average height with 34D boobs) but very in touch with her male side. (Desired interests: football, rock music, meat, roast dinners and watching Star Wars).
You can see their thinking; such a woman will happily fall in with her bloke’s hobbies. No arguments, ever. Meanwhile, she is allowed her passions, too; Coronation Street. And a Mini Cooper, presumably so she can drive him home from the pub in something suitably ladish.
Clearly I’m still as far off stereotypical perfection as I ever was. I’m a brunette only at the roots. I’m too tall, a 36A and I haven’t been 9 stone since I was 17. I hate football. I couldn’t ever be a nurse; I find illness in others irritating. All I’ve got that fits the bill is a Northern accent, blue eyes and a Corrie addiction. But as Valentine’s Day approaches, I’m happy with me. And the fact that one man loves me just as I am. Tracy, wherever you are, I hope you are, too. And that you hate footie and Star Wars, drink malt and have turned vegan.