WAG do you want to be when you grow up?

In WAG Boutique, Josefin Skullbacka finds a group of women all-too-willing to define themselves as the wives and girlfriends of footballers

, 29 March 2007

You’d think that the time when women happily identified themselves by the men they married was long gone. But not so for a group of women desperate to partner up with footballers, who not only embrace their WAG tag, but are also happy to exploit it to get on TV.

The WAGs, or Wives and Girlfriends of the World Cup footballers, became more famous than their ball-kicking partners during last year’s match in Germany. Victoria Beckham, formerly known as Posh Spice, is the mother of all WAGs, married as she is to England captain David Beckham. Reducing herself from a star in her own right to Mrs Beckham, Victoria has been the one to show everyone how it should be done; with hair extensions, fake tans, a pout the size of Essex, miniskirts the size of belts, a bulging designer wardrobe and a new handbag every 23 seconds.

Young girls and women look up to the WAGs and aspire to be like them. There’s a whole sea of WAGabees out there desperate to date a footballer

To question the fame and the media frenzy around the WAGs does not seem relevant. After all, these women pulled a footballer and therefore they should grace the covers of every magazine on the newsstand, should they not? Is that not enough of an accomplishment? But now these WAGs have a chance to become famous in their own right by appearing in magazine as style icons and advisers, like Colleen McLaughlin (who we shouldn’t forget is the fiance of Wayne Rooney), or appear on a TV show. Now they can become famous for more than just sharing a bed with someone famous. Or as ukgameshows.com puts it:

We’ve had game shows with perfectly ordinary people in it, game shows with slightly unhinged members of the public in it, shows with people’s pets in it, shows with celebrities in it, shows with not particularly famous people in it. Well, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Shows With People Who are Wives and Girlfriends of Not Particularly Famous People In It.

Welcome to ITV2’s WAGs Boutique. On the show, the WAGS are divided into two teams which set up rival fashion boutiques next to each other in a famous fashion district of London. The aim of the game is to see which clothing shop will be the most successful over a three-month period. Expect tantrums, broken finger nails and lots of bitching, the ad promises.

I tuned in to watch the first episode of the heavily advertised show to see if my fears would be confirmed. Are some women really happy to just be a someone of a somebody? The answer is yes.

The wives and girlfriends of various footballers, whose names I’ve never heard before, introduced themselves as Nicola this and Julie that, followed by an “and I’m the girlfriend/wife of so-and-so”.

I watched on as the glamour models, housewives and Page 3 girls proudly defined themselves as WAGs on national TV. Their claim to fame was being married to somebody mildly famous. And that was just the beginning. As the two teams were presented they were defined by the profession of their other halves and ridiculed by having pictures of their heads superimposed on animated characters on a football pitch.

The young WAG had no idea that a football team had eleven players

As the participants continued to introduce themselves, their ‘famous’ halves joined in. More than one footballer mentioned that he was hoping for the experience to give so-and-so the chance to channel her “passion for fashion”. The embarrassment didn’t end there. If any of the WAGs thought they were going on TV to prove they had more brains than the space allocated for boobs in a Page 3 newspaper they were badly mistaken.

The WAGs went to the London College of Fashion and undertook a quiz in fashion knowledge. The majority of them answered less than four questions out of ten correctly. The teacher looked on in horror as none of them seemed to know who had designed the latest ‘it’ bag. And it got worse. As the teams sat down to discuss names for the two shops, a housewife WAG suggested the name Eleven. Her team mate looked at her with a stupid expression and said that she didn’t understand. It emerged that the young WAG had no idea that a football team had eleven players. I wonder if her particular boyfriend was sitting at home cringing in front of the box.

These pretty side-kicks might be a feast for the eye, if you’re a Page 3 fan, but the sad thing is that young girls and women look up to the WAGs and aspire to be like them. There’s a whole sea of WAGabees out there desperate to date a footballer. My role models growing up were athletes and the odd star that lived such unobtainable fairytale lifestyles that it was impossible to even imagine such a life for oneself. What these WAGs are showing teenage girls is that a life of luxury, shopping and fame can be obtained, as long as one bags a footballer. Sadly, the straw-like hair and the orange tans aren’t the only fake things about the WAGs and their lifestyle.

Josefin Skullbacka has a degree in writing for media arts and works as a writer and editor in London. She grew up in Finland, a country lead by a female president and where young women prioritize education and their own careers.

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