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Women of the Mall

I’m sitting here at Southcentre Mall’s food court here in Calgary, absorbing the sites and sounds.  It’s a lovely spring afternoon during the Easter long weekend, and the mall is somewhat busier than you’d expect.  The smell of various food vendors hangs in the air, and people sit individually and in small groups, chatting and eating.

A few minutes ago, a couple of girls around the age of 12 ate lunch at the table beside me. Young faces with extremely tight clothing, very thick makeup and hair that looked ready for MTV.  One had hoop earrings so large that they looked as thought they might fit around the diameter of her neck. These girls were trying to impress.

There are also a few Filipino women wandering the food court.  Quietly, in uniform, they remove the garbage and clear the tables.  I doubted that impressing the Canadian patrons was on their minds, but certainly supporting their families by doing their work must have been. Their inherent character impresses me.

There is also a young Asian family at the next table, with a baby who looks about a year old.  Mom and dad are eating quietly, as the baby sits well-behaved in her stroller beside, looking wide-eyed at the world.  Mom has little make-up on, and her hair pulled into a practical ponytail out of the way.  I expect she does impress, with her brains and hard work, and doesn’t need makeup to prove it.

There are also a few older women here.  In my immediate vicinity, I see two who are either in their 60’s or 70’s.  Both are well dressed, made-up and with dyed hair, one blonde, one red.  I wondered when women in their 60’s stopped being allowed to have grey hair.  Seems they are still trying to impress.

And here I sit.  A business-woman type I suppose- I’m here with a laptop tapping away, trying to work on a weekend.  My brown hair is strategically dyed to match its natural colour, in order to hide the incoming grey.  I am slim and still moderately attractive, but the creases in my brow show the strain that comes from raising teenagers, and years of self-employment.   I am working to impress, but the converse sneakers I’m wearing say I’d rather be out having fun.

From the gigantic windows beside my table, I see outside the mall in the parking lot,  a very sloppily dressed, overweight woman.  She stands outside wearing shredded jeans, smoking a cigarette.    I wondered if she once had been a young, made-up girl, had a labourer’s  job, or was a businesswoman…and then decided it was no longer worth the effort of trying to impress.  Her attitude impresses me nonetheless, since there are many days I wish I could get away with being just like her.

So here we are, women of the mall.  I can see where I’ve been.  I can see where I’m going.  I can see where I’ve been luckier than most. You all impress me in many ways.

To all of you – have a lovely Easter weekend.  May the young girls not bother with makeup, may the working women get a chance to rest, and may the Moms get and elderly get some extra hugs from their kids and grandkids, who will love them for all they do.  And if you don’t care about impressing others in the least, then smile simply for that reason.  Life ain’t easy ladies, but we’re in it together.

Jacqueline Drew


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About the Author - Jacqueline Drew
Jacqueline M. Drew, BComm, MBA is founder and CEO of Tenato Strategy Inc., a marketing research and strategy firm with bases in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. With over 25 years' experience in all facets of marketing strategy, she is a business consultant, trainer and speaker who loves to use her superpowers "to help the good guys win."

One thought on “Women of the Mall

  1. I think “people watching” is the best fun of all, sitting there surrounded by stories.

    Grey hair? For a lot of Boomers of the female persuasion, “going off the bottle” ie)ceasing to colour, will be a conscious decision. We who ‘came of age before computers’, whose classrooms just had blackboards and chalk, should realize how much more freedom-to-decide we had compared to our Moms’ generation.

    To work or not to work, to marry or not, to stay married or not, to have children or not…they had no real choice in those matters. However, they did have the choice to dye their hair or wear a wig, and my Mom did.

    I think sitting in the mall and meditating on the women and their work, their friends, their children and their vices is soul satisfying.

    By the way, the FORZANI MOTHERS DAY WALK flows out from that parking lot just below you at Chinook Centre on May 13.

    There’ll be lots of ‘people-walking’

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