A friend of mine, well-intentioned as he always is, emailed me this song by a band called The Honey Trees. Even before I hear the first needy purr of the synthesizer, before the slickly produced video begins to roll, before the bridge mellows out into the chorus, I know exactly what's coming. It's the same whineysweet tune you've heard a hundred times before, the harmless type that fades nicely into the background, that Volvo will probably feature in an ad sometime in the near-now. The girls all look and dress and laugh like Zooey Deschanel, and the boys...well, the boys look like Zooey Deschanel too. How did this happen?
Have you bought a pair of jeans lately? Did you know they've completely done away with the old system of measurement? Its not enough to just look for a 32 waist any more. There's a skinny 32, an urban skinny 32, a slim 32, a slimmer-than-slim 32, a so-skinny-you're-probably-just-bones 32. And if you ask really nicely, the so-skinny-she's-an-alien shop assistant will fish out a comfortable 32 from the back of the establishment. If it's a busy day, they're yours for free. If it's not crowded, she'll direct you to a little room at the back where the fat people pay for their clothes. Rip off the label with a jackhammer, throw the garment in an anonymous, plain white bag and whisper: "just don't tell anyone you shop here, yeah?"
They're everywhere, these Slim Jims. At work, at the pub, at the cinema. I've even seen a couple at the local take-away or I'd be convinced they're all starving, morally-ambiguous vampires. Some of them are even known to sparkle. They are believed to breathe only through their eyelashes because their noses are in a constant state of being turned up in disgust at the Mainstream. But who or what is this Mainstream? I look around and all I see are clones and clones of clones and clones of skinny people. I see brogues and fedoras and waistcoats and teeshirts with pictures of bands that look and sound and laugh like other bands. I see The Great Depression, or a Truman Show-like screen at the end of the horizon that's actually a cleverly disguised vagina with an extended clitoris that's cleverly disguised to look like a conveyor belt, delivering row after row of Topshop-babies, one after the other, in an unending line.
I'm no more alone in my despair than they are in their indie-kinship of course. I've heard the odd grumble about these beautiful men looking like they're photoshopped, the odd celeb outcry against Size Zero. But these upholders of dignity of the horizontally challenged are all ridiculously fit themselves. Sure they can talk! As a 90s child, this whole thing scores heavily on my injustice-meter. Cable TV and sitcoms have let me down again. What happened to the lovable, overweight losers who get the cute girl? They're hung by their excess skin on a clothesline in Zooey Deschanel's garage, that's what. She's probably waiting for them to loosen up a little to make a holder for her folder full of quirky brain n' bean salad recipes.