LAUREN BRAVO Being a woman

I AM about to make a sweeping generalisation.

Women have lots of stuff. We thrive on “things”. Not necessarily from an innate inclination to hoard, but because the simple act of being a woman in our society requires equipment.

Some of us see it as battle armour, some like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag full of magical tricks, while more of us are just continually baffled by the sheer amount of indispensable gubbins we’ve managed to accumulate.

In accordance, our bags have evolved from little velveteen pouches for love notes, snuff boxes and other trinkets, to holdalls you can cart a child round in. We’ve become pack ponies, hauling around our collected life’s purchases just so that if anyone happens to have a funny tummy twinge, we can be eternally poised with a Gaviscon.

So here, for the uninitiated, is my cheat’s sheet to the paraphernalia of womanhood:

1. Kirby grips – Women have a special place to keep kirby grips, and that is the floor. Despite buying approximately eight million of the little metal things in our lifetimes, we will only ever have about four on the go at once – and all of these we will procure when needed from our bedroom carpets. Despite all attempts to tame them, to keep them in little purses and designated boxes, the truth is kirby grips just need to roam free.

2. Lip balm – In the interests of thorough journalism, I have googled ‘Do women’s lips get dryer than men’s?’ but it hasn’t returned any results. So we must venture on uninformed, to learn about the female attachment to lip balm. It’s a particular trademark of my generation, I think, the need to be in a state of permanent lip lubrication. When we were 14, my pals and I carried around so many tubes of sparkly, cake-flavoured goop in our pencil cases that we could line them up the entire length of the desk during English lessons. Meanwhile, in adulthood, we favour balms that make our lips tingle to the point of pain, signifying that they’re “doing us good”. We have them littered about our rooms, our desks and our person in case of a sandpaper attack.

3. Safety pins – In every woman’s life, there will be at least five occasions where her clothes will fail her. Straps will break, seams will rip, garments will cease to perform their proper function and leave her indecently exposed. This is when the surprise presence of a safety pin is so glorious we could cry.

But be warned: they do not always remain where we put them. Safety pins are fickle creatures and love to disappear just when we need them most.

4. Tampons – It’s the obvious one, and despite all the men going spontaneously blind and shaky right now, it must be covered. They are the ultimate womanly accoutrement. We are fiercely loyal to brand and style – if you want to cause a proper ruckus in a group of women, simply ask “applicator or non-applicator?” and wait for the feathers to fly.