J.Crew is my lover.

I have a feminist streak. I get upset when I'm told that women are bad drivers. I refuse to believe that I can't live in a city by myself. I'm disgusted by the number of crude terms given to female body parts. I get a little bit offended when men (well, certain men) open doors for me. Or call me "cute". It's demeaning.

But. And this is a big "but" that deserves its own sentence... But I am the complete female stereotype.

I like to feel domestic. I like the idea of having a little garden at our home with a white picket fence around it. I like knitting in small doses. I like the color pink, and look cute with bows in my hair. When I go to the beach, I try to emphasize my female attributes. I enjoy baking cookies and the thought of having babies doesn't totally repulse me. Like many girls, I am more interested in literature than math. I can talk to my best friends for hours on end. I like boys. And I love to shop for clothes.

I first developed this love on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when every crazed American throws caution to the wind and hits the mall looking for sales. It's stupid, really. That's why it's fun.

So there I was, standing in front of The Limited, Too, dreaming of the preteen that I could be if I wore their clothes. My grandmother, in the subconscious biological desire to pass on this stereotypical female love of shopping, bought me my first "stylish" pair of shorts. They were white with a little blue smiley face on them. At ten, they were the epitome of cool. Or so I thought.

There it was: my first bite of the apple, and I was hooked. In middle school, I wore uniforms (much to my shame). Before every dress-down-day, I would go to the mall looking for the perfect outfit. The week preceding my entrance into a public high school, I went shopping with my sister and cried when I found out how expensive designer clothes were. Thus, I got a job to feed my habit. Every paycheck came with the promise of new Abercrombie jeans or a Hollister dress.

Now that I'm in college, I've learned to budget a little more reasonably. I put necessities first (bills, my sponsor child, cost of living) and generally put clothes on about the same level as food. When I make a purchase, I think about it first. I go to the store in the pursuit of something specific, rather than buying everything I see.

But. There's that "but" again. But I have to make one exception: J.Crew. If I don't have any money, I can't go within a few miles of J.Crew. It's a beautiful, magical place with clothes that fit me like a glove and coincide with my lifestyle. Laid-back-professional, I like to call it, with a dash of classy-casual on the side.

When you walk past a J.Crew advertisement, you're seeing more than just the gorgeous model who promises that you, too, will look great in these clothes. You're seeing a lifestyle. A carefree, independent woman who knows how to dress while doing a "man's" job. She is more than sex appeal. She is an ideal. She is how you see yourself in 10 years. She is success in one clean, featherweight cotton package.

This girl doesn't need a man to open the door for her.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love I guy who understands how to treat a woman well, as long as he's not thinking she needs him to survive. I think J.Crew knows that, and creates clothing that makes a woman feel confident, strong and sexy, too. J.Crew is the perfect juxtaposition of feminism and the female stereotype. This is how I justify buying clothes there today.

Also, their return policy can't be beat.

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