Written by Hannah Dunleavy

In The News

Dear John (Lewis)…

Sick of not being able to write and draw efficiently because you just don’t have the proper girl tools? Fear not, a department store has come to the rescue. Hannah Dunleavy writes a heartfelt Dear John…

Photo by @BettyCS91.

Photo by @BettyCS91.

Dear John Lewis,

Thanks so much for the new range of pencils designed especially for women on sale in your Cambridge branch. I haven’t had the opportunity to purchase any as I feel I should seek my husband’s approval first and unfortunately I’ve yet to meet him. I only hope there are some left when I do, as their wonderful pinkness is bound to attract every single female who comes into your store.

Consequently, I’m having to type this letter on a mannish keyboard, which I find quite tiresome. I’ve already broken three fingernails and started a small fire. My previous attempt to use a pen was foiled when words failed to appear and the confounded thing simply scored marks on the paper. I think it may be out of ink, but rest assured I will check with my father when I next see him.

But how glad I am that, a whole two years after Bridget Christie’s comedy show A Bic for Her proclaimed that pens did not need to be designed for women, you continue to see the importance of producing stationery for people like me.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have struggled with a non-gender-specific pencil and thought, “If only this were pink,” or, “If only this had something written on the side of it to remind me of my priorities as a woman.”

Take the pencil that says ‘Girl Boss’, for example. For years women have been searching for the perfect way to assert their status in the office, not only as senior members of staff but as members of the fairer sex. This pencil will, I believe, be a godsend and save so many working women from having to bare their breasts while shouting, “Do some work you ’orrible lot!”

Yes indeed, if you are heading to an important meeting, nothing says ‘respect me’ more than a pink pencil with the words Girl Boss on. I only hope no one makes the mistake of taking the ‘Buy The Shoes!’ pencil into a meeting and has to leave to go shopping. Can you imagine!

But seriously, women love shoes, don’t they? And glitter and bling and smelling roses. It’s a wonder we get anything done at all.

My only slight concern is the slogan ‘La Vie En Rose’, which does bring to mind that most unladylike of women, Edith Piaf. Perhaps you might want to consider swapping this with a new slogan. ‘Fluffy Kittens’ maybe. Or ‘Gratefully Oppressed’. I’m sure one of the men in your office can think of something.

Yours knowingly undersold,
Hannah Dunleavy

Bridget Christie’s latest show, A Book For Her, starts its run at Leicester Square Theatre, London, tonight. Until Wednesday 2 December.


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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.