Marie Claire (South Africa) - - ED'S LETTER -

In Ar­gentina, I’m told, ev­ery­one has one.They visit them weekly, slot­ting them into their sched­ules like a trip to the su­per­mar­ket or the bath­room. The Ar­gen­tini­ans view the visit as a mun­dane ne­ces­sity, as cru­cial to their well­be­ing as a bowel move­ment.And frankly, like con­sti­pa­tion, an emo­tional block­age can lead to more than a lit­tle dis­com­fort. As a re­sult, Ar­gentina ap­par­ently has more psy­chol­o­gists per capita than any other na­tion in the world.

Lord knows Ar­gentina has had a lot of psy­chic dam­age to con­tend with, what with Andrew Lloyd Web­ber and the ever-present miss­ing people, so I can to­tally see the point of a weekly men­tal cleans­ing. But, be­ing South African, I am deeply in­flu­enced by our own stripe of pe­cu­liar Calvin­ist and Zulu mag­i­cal think­ing. In our case it is a ques­tion of, ‘If we don’t talk about it, it isn’t there.’ Con­se­quently, it be­comes in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to move about with all the ele­phants lin­ger­ing in ev­ery­one’s rooms. Never mind the ver­i­ta­ble troops of ele­phants stomp­ing about on the na­tional stage.

Which is why, of the mil­lions upon mil­lions of words spewed out and chewed over for the du­ra­tion of the tragic Os­car Pis­to­rius sideshow, a show with an un­prece­dented abil­ity to tap into our na­tional psy­che, one ob­ser­va­tion struck me most. It was writ­ten by Dr Leonard Carr, who hap­pens to be my shrink. Un­like the Ar­gen­tinian shrink-vis­it­ing pop­u­la­tion, I only visit Leonard ev­ery few years for about a minute at a time.Which is prob­a­bly not ideal. Trust me, I could do with a lit­tle sys­temic flush­ing much more fre­quently. But I am lazy that way, and sincerely averse to self-anal­y­sis.

Any­way, what Leonard, who is one of those preter­nat­u­rally sage types with a huge brood of chil­dren and is thus em­i­nently prac­ti­cal and free with ad­vice (in­ci­den­tally, a chief rea­son why I like him so much), said was some­thing like this: Os­car had three psy­cho­log­i­cal crutches that propped up his per­son­al­ity – his blades, his pros­thetic legs and his gun. When he put on his pros­the­sis it was like putting on his heroic per­son­al­ity – he lit­er­ally be­came his story. He in­stantly be­came his ver­sion of his best self. When he cocked his gun he took on the man­tle of South African man­hood.

Prob­a­bly one of the most trau­matic mo­ments in his aw­ful un­rav­el­ling and fall from grace was when he stood bare on his stumps, in shorts and a T-shirt, un­manned and with­out his pros­the­sis. He was sud­denly a lit­tle boy. A vul­ner­a­ble lit­tle boy plagued by big black bo­gey­men and an ab­sent fa­ther who sits in eter­nal judge­ment. His ma­cho, gun-sling­ing vibe, which once wrapped his per­sona in a safety net of cow­boy high jinks and gang­ster ‘I can do any­thing’ cool, masked this empty place. A dev­as­tat­ing place where a young woman was sac­ri­ficed to the ele­phant in the Os­car room.

We all have our crutches.The tal­is­manic ob­jects, guises and dis­guises that al­low us to feel safe in the per­son­al­ity we project to the world. For me it is my heels, my clothes and my brain. I feel safe and con­tained when I am sport­ing a cute new out­fit while pro­ject­ing smarts and light­ness of be­ing. See what I did there, Leonard? Ma­jor self-anal­y­sis.

Our crutches work. Un­til they don’t. Per­haps that is why all those New York hip­sters have de­cided to forgo fash­ion and dress like Jerry Se­in­feld. Be­cause, hey, it is su­per-tire­some and pre­ten­tious to look like a pea­cock. Look­ing like a neb­bish is prefer­able. One of those ter­ri­bly smart New York trend agencies coined the term #norm­core to de­scribe the aw­ful ten­dency to don a Birken­stock. What­ever. I, for one, am to­tally rec­on­ciled to my crutches. I will take a heel over a Birkie ev­ery time. But per­haps the les­son in all this grubby aw­ful­ness and bit­ter tragedy is that it is best to make like the Ar­gen­tini­ans and do some soulsearch­ing be­fore you find yourself stand­ing in your bed­room at three in the morn­ing, won­der­ing what the hell hap­pened.

DENIM UP­DATED Denim de­lights abound – is there any­thing more mar­vel­lous than a good pair of jeans? Ob­vi­ously not Jerry Se­in­feld’s jeans. Our mag­nif­i­cent fash­ion team gives you many non #norm­core al­ter­na­tives. GAME ON We have been play­ing games with you on Face­book. (We hope you’ve no­ticed.) We ask you to give us your best shot at word­play, so go wild with words – there’s a prize to be won.This month’s cap­tion win­ner gets a fab­u­lous per­fume. Witty, and you smell nice too. SUB­SCRIBE NOW We are very keen on com­mu­ni­ca­tion here at MC. So we’ve started news­let­ters: go to to sub­scribe to our beauty, fash­ion or gen­eral news­let­ters and you’ll re­ceive fun stuff di­rectly in your in­box. We might even throw in a prize… #justsay­ing.

As­pa­sia with MC's Ver­meiren

fash­ion di­rec­tor Sharon and Janez

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