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‘Nooo. It’s too…
boring.’

Lucy moved some
clothes aside and sat on my bed. ‘Well what image exactly are you going for?’

I sat next to her.
‘Dunno. That’s why you’re here, style queen.’

Lucy’s been my closest
friend for ages and I really trust her opinion. Not that I don’t trust TJ and
Nesta, I do, but I’ve know Lucy longer - since junior school - and we’ve shared
everything from clothes and CDs to our first day at secondary school. Sometimes
we even know what each other is thinking. Also, she’s great on fashion. She
makes loads of her own clothes and wants to study dress design after secondary school.
That’s why I asked her rather than Nesta or TJ to help me go through my
wardrobe. It’s not that Nesta hasn’t got style, she has. But if she had her
way, she’d dress everyone like her, in girlie clothes, and what suits her
doesn’t necessarily suit everyone. I’m not a girlie type of girl. And TJ’s the
opposite of Nesta. She’s a bit of a tomboy. She does look good in her jeans and
trainers, but she’s not that bothered about clothes really. She’d rather spend
her pocket money on a book than a top.

‘All I know is I need
a change,’ I said. ‘Something more sophisticated, something to make me stand
out. Like, I know I’ll never be drop-dead gorgeous like Nesta…’

‘Rubbish,’ interrupted
Lucy.‘ You have a different look, that’s all, but you’re just as good-looking as
she is.’

Typical Lucy. Always
my champion.

‘Get real,’ I said. ‘I
know where I stand in the beauty stakes, and Nesta is a nine and a half out of
ten… and I’m about a five without any make-up, but can be a seven or eight if I
make a bit of an effort. Fact. Reality.’

‘You’re too critical
of yourself. I’d give you a nine, easy. You’ve got a great figure, fabulous
eyes, lovely hair…’

‘Thank you very much,
Lucy,’ I said, ‘but sorry, I don’t share your view. My bum’s too big for a start
and my nose is too lumpy.’

‘I saw a programme on
telly about model school and one of the first things they teach is about
confidence. The girls have to do an exercise where they go up to mirrors and
tell themselves that they’re beautiful. Makes sense, because if you don’t
believe it, no one else will. If you think you’re a five, Izzie, that’s what
you put out to people. You of all people should know that.’

I got up and stood in
front of the mirror on my bedroom door. ‘You are beautiful. You are beeeoootiful,’
I told myself, then laughed. ‘No, I’m not. I can look interesting, or maybe
attractive, but I know I’ll never be beautiful.’

Lucy threw a pillow at
me.
‘You’re blind, Iz.’
‘Don’t worry,’ I said. ‘I’m not
major freaked about it, I’m being honest, that’s all. I really don’t mind if
you are too. I think we all should be. Us girls, we’re all afraid to say
anything critical. In reality, everyone knows exactly what their assets and
flaws are.’

Lucy sighed. ‘OK,
you’re an ugly old bag.’ ‘I know I’m not that either, but I reckon that if you
want to get noticed, there are three ways - you’re either drop-dead gorgeous to
begin with, like Nesta, who would look fab in a bin bag. Or you develop your
own style — one that stands out from the crowd. You know, wild clothes or
something. Or third, you wear clothes that are provocative. Cool, alluring. The
worst thing is to be boring.’

‘No one could ever say
you’re boring, Iz.’ I chucked a pair of baggy trousers on the ‘bin’ pile. ‘Well,
that’s just it. I seem to go from mad clothes that are definitely different, to
boring clothes that make me look invisible. I want to find a new look, one that
really suits me.’

‘OK then, but it’s not
just clothes,’ said Lucy. ‘Someone can wear the most fab designer labels and
still look crapola. Like Linda Parker in Year Eleven. I saw her at the cinema
the other week and she was showing off in some Dolce and Gabbana number, but a)
just because her stuff was by a posh designer doesn’t mean it suited her, and
b) her posture is crap. That’s the other thing that they teach at model school:
walk tall, don’t slouch. And of course we all know that someone can be
beautiful on the outside, but boring as anything inside.’

I laughed. ‘You sound
like a magazine article.’

‘Actually, TJ asked me
to do one for the school magazine,’ she admitted. ‘She’s been working on ideas
over the holidays for the autumn edition. I’ve been doing top tips for making
the most of yourself, so I’ve been thinking a lot about it. In the end, though,
it’s personality that makes you want to be with people. I hang out with Nesta
because she’s a laugh and big-hearted, not because she looks good.’

‘True,’ I said. ‘But
try telling a gorgeous boy all that stuff about how much personality matters. I
read in one of my mags that boys are ninety-five percent visual. The first
thing they notice is what girls look like - hair, shape, legs and so on. With
girls, looks are important too, but to a lesser degree. You’ve got to make boys
notice you in the first place so that they’ll take the time to get to know your
personality.’

‘Ben seemed to like
you the way you were.’ Ben was my boyfriend until last week. He plays in the
band that I sing with and we’ll still be mates, I hope.

‘Yeah, he liked me the
way I was. But I want to change. Finishing with him was part of it. I mean, we
got on and everything, but it all started to feel too safe, predictable. All we
ever did was band stuff. I feel like I’ve spent the whole of the holidays stuck
in his garage going over songs, and although I know you have to practise if you
want to be good, I want a bit more excitement. It’s like, I dunno, Ben doesn’t
have any edge. Not a great challenge any more.’

‘So you want a new
image to get a new boy?’

‘Not necessarily just
to get a boy. It’s part of it. It’s just that, I dunno… I feel different
lately. I want my clothes to reflect that. I want to do cool, sophisticated, a
bit more grown-up, you know?’

Lucy nodded and picked
out a black T-shirt. ‘Here, try this. Black is good for “sophisticated”,
especially if you wear it with the right accessories.’

I took off the blue
top I was wearing and was just pulling the black T-shirt over my head when the
door opened.

‘Oh hi, Lucy,’ said
Mum, popping her head round the door. ‘I didn’t know you were here. Er, Izzie,
I’m just popping out to the garden cen… What the… ?’

I’d tried to get the
T-shirt over my head and down before she noticed, but it was too late. Old
eagle eyes had seen it.

‘Izzie! Is that a
stud
through your belly button?’

Lucy looked like she
wanted to crawl under the bed.

‘No.’ I pulled my
T-shirt down as far as it would go.

She entered the room.
‘Let me see.’

‘Oh please, Mum, leave
it.’

‘Let. Me. See. It,’
she demanded.

Reluctantly, I lifted
my T-shirt and her face turned to stone.

‘When did you have
that done?’

‘Yesterday.’

‘Where?’

‘Camden.’

‘Did you know about
this, Lucy?’ asked Mum, turning to Lucy who was staring at the floor. Lucy
looked up at me anxiously and I managed to quickly shake my head behind Muni’s
back. I didn’t want her getting in trouble with my mum for something I’d
decided to do. Lucy shook her head.

Mum turned back to me.
She looked furious. ‘Take it out, this instant.’

‘I can’t,’ I said.

‘You can and you
will
.’

‘No, really. You’re
not supposed to take it out for weeks, otherwise the hole will heal over.’

‘You take that stud
out this instant, young lady. No one gave you permission to have it put in. We
never even discussed it.’

‘Only because I knew
you’d say no.’

‘Exactly,’ said Mum.
‘And I’m saying no now.’

‘You should have
knocked,’ I said, suddenly feeling angry. If she’d knocked, I could have got
the T-shirt on and none of this would be happening. ‘You’re always walking in
when I’m doing private things. I want a lock on my door.’

‘Er, got to go,’ said
Lucy, getting up and heading for the door. ‘Um, er, catch you later, Iz.’

And with that, she
fled.

 

Lucy’s Top Tips
for
Making the Most of Yourself

 

·
       
Stand
up straight. Don’t slouch or hunch over. Think Jerry Hall and strut your
stuff.

·
       
Eat
healthy food. Hair and skin glow on a good diet and are dull on a stodgy junk
food diet.

·
       
Have
regular pampering sessions, even if they’re DIY at home. You’ll get the idea
that you’re worth it, then others will pick up on this.

·
       
Pay
attention to detail: nails, hands, feet, eyebrows, skin.

·
       
Keep
hair clean and well cut. It’s Murphy’s Law - the day you put off washing your
hair is the day you’ll bump into someone you fancy.

·
       
Save
up and buy one wonderful item that makes you feel fabulous whenever you put
it on.

·
       
Wear
underwear that fits properly and looks good.

·
       
Think
positively. Of all the things you wear, your expression is the one that
people see first. If you are miserable and feel bored with yourself, others
will pick up on that.

·
       
Invest
in a fab pair of sunglasses for days when you feel tired and not at your
best.

·
       
Ninety
percent of looking good comes from confidence. Believe in yourself. Everyone
has it in them to look wonderful in their own individual way.

·
       
Find
out what suits you as an individual. A designer label doesn’t guarantee it
will look fab on you.

 

 

 

 

 

C h a p t e r
 
4

Mission
Matchmake

 

Contents
-
Prev
/
Next

 

Of course Mum got her
way. I begged, I pleaded, I offered to do the washing up for the next month,
but there’s no arguing with her when she’s got a strop on and this one was
major. After a long lecture about infections, looking cheap, going behind her
back, blah de blah de blah, she made me take out the stud. She even waited
outside the bathroom door while I did it, then demanded that I hand it to her.

‘I’ll put this in the
bin,’ she said, wrapping it in a tissue like it was dog’s doo-doo. ‘And don’t
think we’ve finished, Isobel. You and I are going to sit down later and have
words.’ And with that, she headed down the stairs and out, slamming the front
door behind her.

Words, I thought. Huh.
Well, it’s going to be her saying them all because I’m never going to speak to
her again. Ever.

As soon as I heard the
car engine start up I rang Lucy, but her mobile was off. I dialled Nesta’s
number.

‘Oh, you poor thing,’
she sympathised, after I’d filled her in on the latest. ‘After all you went
through as well.’

‘I know. She’s gone to
the garden centre in a huff. Poor plants, that’s all I can say. You know they
say that they’re sensitive to vibes -well, I bet they all wilt when she walks
in.’

‘What does Angus say
about the stud?’

Angus is my stepdad. I
nicknamed him The Lodger when he and Mum first got together, as it was the only
way I could deal with him and his daughters, Amelia and Claudia. But we get on
OK now, so I call him by his proper name. He tends to stay out of it when Mum
and I aren’t getting on.

‘Dunno. Nothing. He’s
hiding in the greenhouse, feeding geraniums or something equally boring. Is
this what Sundays are about when you get old? Plants? I hope it never happens
to me, Nesta. Anyway, Mum’s being totally unreasonable. Lucy’s parents are
totally cool about her stud. It’s not fair. I mean, it’s not like I’ve got
pregnant or become a drug addict or anything. I mean, what is her problem?’

‘Maybe you should have
told her you
were
pregnant,’ said Nesta. ‘You know, gone in with a
long face and said, Mum I have something to tell you, then come out with this
long list
of really
awful things. All fictitious, of course. Then,
when she was totally freaked, you’d say, No, it’s not true. But, oh… one tiny
thing: I
have
had my belly button pierced. By then, she’d have been so
relieved, she’d probably even have offered to pay for it.’

‘D’er, why didn’t I
think of that?’ I laughed. ‘Look, do you fancy meeting me in Muswell Hill? I’ve
had an idea.’

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