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August 08 [Wed], 2012, 10:50
My 13-year-old daughter lives like a catwalk model.She walks around all day with a litre bottle of water, demands I buy her vegetarian sushi from M&S, and keeps sashaying around in 'avant-garde' outfits put together from TK Maxx and Primark. Sometimes it all fitflops on sale gets a little too experimental and she looks like she's been dressed by Leigh Bowery at gunpoint in a pitch-black room, but there are other times when I think she looks great, she's got a real sense of style, she really could be a model. All she needs is an eating disorder and a 55-year-old boyfriend and she'll be away.It is difficult living with a style icon, especially one who flies into Naomi-rages every morning trying to 'work' her school uniform. Any hair or skin product I buy is instantly spirited away to the murky underworld that is her bedroom, to reappear three weeks later, all gunked up, with the lid missing. Every so often I hear her clomping about in the locked bathroom trying to walk in my highest shoes. It sounds like some beautiful but terrible beast is in there - Kate Moss meets the Gruffalo. The bottles fitflop of water are a real problem.Clearly she has read somewhere that she must 'flush out her system'. She endlessly refills Highland Spring bottles from the kitchen tap, takes a sip or two, and then leaves them three-quarters full all over the house, where they are booted over by the toddler, and we all end up squelching and paddling about like workers in a rice field in Communist China.I have to remember that at my daughter's age, I wasn't anywhere near as pretty, but then at 13 I wasn't as pretty as Harry Dean Stanton. In many ways, I actually admire her - it takes forward planning and optimism to apply all these 'lifestyle' rules to her bog-standard schoolgirl existence, especially when she has a mean mum who won't give her a proper 'allowance' like Paris Hilton gets.And no one could deny she has thought it all through thoroughly. Hardly a day goes by without a discussion about my height and her dad's height, and a calculation of whether she'll grow much more. I always show her my stomach - that will definitely grow much more. I've also pointed out fit flop that she might end up 'petite'. There's nothing wrong with that, but she receives this news as solemnly as if I had said she was genetically predisposed to some terrible disease. It makes you wonder whether one day all girls will be medically screened for the Not-Model gene, with counselling provided for the devastated 'short-arses' afterwards.The odd thing is, I don't think my daughter really thinks she's going to be a model, or even particularly wants to be one. It's a generational thing. Modelling has been covered so endlessly in the media, it has started to look like a perfectly average career choice, if not the only option available. Young girls don't dream of becoming models any more; they merely expect it as their right. It has become the norm - with each passing day looking more real, achievable and normal than any regular job. It must be seriously weird to state a desire to become a lawyer or a teacher these days. You wonder if there are young girls out there being ridiculed for wanting to become accountants or doctors. These are not jobs endlessly covered by Elle Girl, Cosmo Girl, or Fleece-your-parents Girl, so basically they don't exist. Or they do, but other people do them, short-sighted fools who don't get the fact that the key to a successful life is walking around with bottles of water, eating vegetarian sushi and talking to your friends on your mobile under the duvet at night.Of course, I try to counteract it all by explaining there are other kinds of fulfilling careers out there, ones where you don't even have to date Colin Farrell (not for that long anyway) and we have come to the compromise that she will be a lawyer-actress-model-presenter 'thingie'with quite a lot of time off so she can (here's the killer) 'marry well'- thus doing away with the tiresome business of independence, being in charge of your destiny, and all the other dull stuff women never really cared about. And with that, Daughter Dearest goes back to poring over magazines ('She's pretty . Fitflops Pietra Pewter Slippers.. She"s not pretty').I know it's a phase,I know she will come back to me, but there are times when I truly believe her to be an alien; that I didn't give birth to her at all, but found her under a spaceship and raised her as my own. One day her real parents - Karl Lagerfeld and Coleen McCloughlin? - will come forward, all suckers and designer labels, to claim her, and there will be nothing I can do. I suppose I'd better enjoy her while I still can.barbara.ellen@observer

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