Why I want to be a WAG
There has been much discussion about the best formation – some favour a 2-2-3, others think we should operate with a lone striker. There has also been much debate about the tactics – do we begin slowly or set a blistering pace that the others can’t match? There are already complaints about the climate; it’s well known that our team works best in air-conditioning. Some people say they don’t deserve to be at the World Cup at all. I dismiss this as nonsense. After the first week, it’s clear that we have the best wives and girlfriends (or WAGs as they have become known) capable of going all the way and lifting the most shopping bags in the tournament. As I observe their antics, I can’t help feeling a twinge of envy. My dishwasher is broken at the moment and so I seem to spend every waking moment when I’m not looking after the children, ironing or working with my hands in rubber gloves.
It’s a different world for the WAGs. Theirs is a world dominated by designer shops, minimalist bikinis and lip gloss. The only thing they have to worry about being broken is a nail. They don’t look in despair at the ironing pile that seems to grow overnight or the windows that need washing. They have staff to do that for them. And as for work, forget it. They are far too busy racing to spend their way through their husband’s vast pay packet to think about earning any money themselves. How on earth would they have time to hold a job down while being perfectly turned out and seen in the latest designer kit every time they go out?
Of course we all deplore them. How deeply shallow can you get? Or as one friend of mine put it: “Imagine being famous just for being someone’s girlfriend and being good at shopping. Wouldn’t you just hate it?”
Well, er, no actually. I’d love it. I absolutely relish the thought of waking up, even for just one morning and worrying about nothing less serious than what time Gucci opens or how to out pout Victoria Beckham.
These girls are living the original girlie dream. They get up, they go shopping. They have a manicure, then it’s time for some more shopping. They have lunch, which someone else cooks and pays for. They’re probably exhausted after lunch so they have a little sleep, maybe a massage and a facial. Then it’s time to hit the shops again before a visit to the hairdresser for some hair extensions. What’s not to like?
Compare that with your average wife’s day. Up at the crack of dawn, children shouting at you, trip over dirty laundry, haul yourself into the shower, take kids to school before starting dreaded commute to work, work all day wishing you were somewhere, anywhere else, pick up kids from school, cook everyone dinner, watch your husband watching the football and wonder where the hell you went wrong.
Face it ladies, you may pretend to despise the WAGs but secretly you all want to be one. In fact you’ve always wanted to be one. I don’t know anyone who didn’t play with Barbie dolls as a young girl. And we all wanted to be her, with her perfect figure, long hair and docile well-built boyfriend Ken. The WAGs have achieved this girlie dream. They are real-live Barbie dolls, with their long, flowing locks, thin waists (at least some of them) and high heels.
They are living an ideal life that someone else supports; some of them even have someone else’s breasts, making them a perfect copy of the original role model. And just like Barbie they have all the fun and none of the responsibility. Whoever heard of Barbie going to work? Perish the thought, it would ruin her nails. So it is with the WAGs.
Coleen McLoughlin doesn’t have to face the prospect of letting the whole nation down by missing the goal in the inevitable penalty shoot-out against Germany in the quarter-finals. The worst thing that can happen to her is that her credit card gets rejected, as happened in Madrid recently. She was trying to buy a Chanel belt for more than most of us spend on clothes a year when she suffered the ignominy we have all suffered of her card being rejected. So what did this canny shopper do? Put the belt back? Don’t be ridiculous, life’s not worth living without a Chanel belt. She simply asked her driver to get darling Wayne to come in and pay for it.
When I first read this story my first reaction was; how appalling, how very anti-feminist, what a total waste of (a lot of) space this woman is. But hang on a minute, was my second reaction, wouldn’t we all really like to have a man who just wafts in, waves his credit card and makes it all better again, rather like a fairy godfather? Wayne Rooney may seem an unlikely candidate for a fairy godfather with, as Jilly Cooper puts it, “his dear little convict’s face”, but he has the cash to change a girl’s life. And deep down, there’s no denying it, that’s what every girl dreams of. It’s what fairy tales are based on. Cinderella didn’t leave the hearth at home to go and clean windows at the palace. When Don Giovanni seduces the peasant girl Zerlina in Mozart’s opera he tells her he’ll change her life. This is an irresistible line. Much as much as we all pretend to be feminists and relish the challenge of doing it all ourselves, actually if we’re really honest, we’d rather not. Having it all; career, children, husbands, interesting lives, is hard work. How much better to have it all and let someone else foot the bill, literally.
Most people are appalled by their behaviour, but personally I think we’re lucky to have them. Unless you’re truly mad about football there’s not much else to entertain you between the England games. And the WAGs do offer endless entertainment. The newspapers are full of their exploits in Baden-Baden. They seem to be hunting in packs, wearing a strip of hipster jeans and large sunglasses doing what they best, spending money and comparing pierced belly-buttons.
Then there’s the constant question of who is Queen Wag for example. Does Victoria Beckham rule the roost, or is she being slowly ousted by the young pretender Coleen ’68-bags’ McLoughlin? There seems to be rival camps at the luxury hotel they’re staying ineaded by Coleen, Victoria and Carly; the question is who can attract the fittest team members? Perhaps things will get so nasty the matriarch Nancy will have to step in and take charge. Talk about a soap; but it’s nothing as unglamorous as Eastenders, it’s from WAGs to Riches.
No, rather than criticise the WAGs I think we should rejoice in them. Just imagine the support they’re giving the boys as they prepare to meet Trinidad and Tobago this afternoon. How heartening it must be for Wayne nursing his metatarsal bone on the bench to know that Coleen’s feet are safely trotting around in one of a dozen pairs of designer shoes she’s picked up this morning.
I just hope their form improves. It seems to me they suffered the same start to the world cup their men did in their first match. The papers are full of how the girls spent a total of £3,500 between them during an hour-long shopping session. This is scandalous. Only £3,500? They should be ashamed of themselves. No WAG worth her mettle should be satisfied with a bill of less than at least double that amount, each.
Let’s hope that after their day lounging by the pool wearing bikinis that in some cases were smaller than their sunglasses, they’ll be fighting fit for their second round match with the shops tomorrow.
Helena Frith Powell was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Italian father, but grew up mainly in England. She is the author of eleven books, translated into several languages including Chinese and Russian. She wrote the French Mistress column The Sunday Times about life in France for several years. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Tatler Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Helena has been the editor of four magazines, including M Magazine, a supplement for the Abu Dhabi-based National Newspaper and FIVE, a high-end fashion glossy, also published in Abu Dhabi. Helena was also editor-in-chief of 360 Life, a quarterly glossy magazine published with the Sports 360 Newspaper in Dubai, part of the Chalhoub Group.
Helena contributes regularly to UK-based newspapers and magazines and holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. She is working on a thriller set in Sweden as well as a novel about the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield called Sense of an Echo.
In 2022 her short story The Japanese Gardener came second in the Fish Publishing Short Story Prize. One of her stories was also shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize. When she’s not writing, she works as a headhunter for the media and entertainment industry for the Sucherman Group.
Helena, who was educated at Durham University, lives in the Languedoc region of France with her husband Rupert and their three children.
More France Please, we’re British; Gibson Square 2004
Two Lipsticks and a Lover 2005; Gibson Square (hardback)
All You Need to be Impossibly French; (US version of above) Penguin 2006
Two Lipsticks and a Lover; Arrow Books (paperback) 2007
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (hardback) 2006
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (paperback) 2007
So Chic! (French version of Two Lipsticks) Leduc Editions 2008 (also translated into Chinese, Russian and Thai)
More, More France; Gibson Square 2009
To Hell in High Heels; Arrow Books 2009 (also translated into Polish)
The Viva Mayr Diet; Harper Collins 2009
Love in a Warm Climate; Gibson Square 2011
The Ex-Factor; Gibson Square 2013
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles; Gibson Square 2016
The Arnolfini Marriage; Amazon Kindle December 2016
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles (paperback); Gibson Square spring 2018
The Longest Night; Gibson Square spring 2019