Saturday, August 1, 2015

Magazines and Crying

I thought this was a nifty tool on www.fotor.com You can put your own pictures into pre-set magazine covers and look all glamorous. The only thing is I couldn't figure out what a magazine about me would be like.  Um...cake and corsets? 
      When I was 13 years old, I had one of those "coming of age", "crying bitterly for loss of childhood" moments, and it all started with a dang magazine. My older brother had decided to take all of the younger kids in my family to the swimming pool on a sweltering hot afternoon in July. It was Tuesday night, and the pool had a "family night" thing where you could get your whole family in for $2. Being poor, and wanting more "bang for our buck", we regularly pulled into the entrance gleefully driving our 13 passenger van filled with my parents and the 8 of us kids. This evening, it was only 7 of us, minus the parents, and my brother stopped at Wal-Mart to get some drinks before the "Family Night" time opened up.

     I had been working hard that summer at a blueberry farm, picking buckets of gorgeous, dark clusters of purple-blue-berries and getting paid $3.25 per bucket. I think I've told you all this, but I was the fastest picker they had ever had, and STILL to this day, I hold the record for being able to pick more buckets per hour than anyone who has ever worked there, adult OR child. The buckets are gallon buckets, and you have to fill them to a certain line to make sure you get enough to get paid! Most adults average about 1 gallon per hour. I was picking 3 per hour most days, even at the age of 13. I had a little walkman cassette tape player, and I would make my own mixes of songs off of the radio to  keep me going fast. I remember distinctly a tape where I had lots of Backstreet Boys and Alanis Morrisette!  Ah, those were the days.

     Since I had my own money, and my parents weren't with me to judge my purchases, I went over to the magazine racks! There, in all of their shiny glory was all of the teenager magazines telling me how to be cool!  Glory be!!! I picked out an issue of YM (Young and Modern) and took it up the cash register, subtly trying to hide it from my siblings, as I was afraid of them making fun of me for wanting "tips on how to get a better tan" and "7 ways to make boys go crazy for you".
    The  issue above wasn't the one I had (I scoured the internet and couldn't find the dang thing) but it is close enough. Honestly, an issue with Gwen Stefani would have been better than the one I got, because at least she is genuinely cool. Anyhow, I can remember a lot of what was in the magazine. It was full of the normal ads, aimed at teenagers, and QUIZZES to help me figure out who I was, and TIPS on how to make boys like me, and BEAUTY SECRETS so that I could be beautiful. After swimming, I went home, sneaked  it up to my room, and just DEVOURED IT! I literally remember my heart beating faster as I turned each page, because I was so excited to learn how to be cool. I imagined myself at school, makeup perfect, clothing spot-on, flirting with boys and having no zits! Magic!

    That is..until my mom came up the stairs to tell us to come down and clean the kitchen. She saw the magazine before I could hide it. I KNEW she didn't like those "fluffy" magazines, and I was terrified she would take away my beauty secrets! I knew she thought that I was too young to be thinking seriously about boys and that I should just try and be friends with them, without trying to have serious relationships. Come ON, mom! Geez! ;)

    She asked me if she could look at the magazine, and I handed it over. She actually took it downstairs and read through the whole thing. I sat up in my room, tense with anticipation.  A little while later, she came back up and set the magazine down on my bed.  She said something to the effect of, "Michelle, I know that it's important for you to be unique and kind and courageous. If anything in this magazine makes you feel good about who you are, or if it inspires you to be TRULY the kind of woman you want to grow into, then leave it in the magazine. However, if there is anything that tells you that you are not acceptable, or that you have to follow what other people are doing, or if you have to do something that you normally wouldn't do, I want you to tear out that page. In the end, you'll have a magazine that is right for you." 

     Holy crap, I got to make the decision myself?  Heck yes!  I got right to work after she left.  And DAMMIT, she was right, as always. I looked at each page and really tried to look inside myself. Did this make me feel acceptable? Did this encourage me to be kind to others? Was any of this behavior true to me? I remember specifically the page about how to get a more sexy tan, and I looked down at my pale legs that I KNEW only burned and blistered when I tried to tan.What was I DOING?  I started bawling my eyes out and ripping out the pages. One by one, they got torn out, wadded up, and thrown into the trash. 

     "How to tell if he's lying to you?"  Trash. "Super Cute Fall Fashion." Trash (It was all clothing that was wrong for my bosomy, hourglassy body.)  In the end, I was left with about 4 pages. Granted, I may have gone overboard in my hormonal teenage angst brain, but there you have it. 
      I still struggle with this as an adult. I look at the glossy magazines, glamorous media images, pinterest pages, and instagram feeds.  It's MORE prevalent than it was when I was a teenager. I still want VERY BADLY to be cool, popular, gorgeous, thin, clever, and fashionable.  Yet, my mind goes back to this story from my life constantly. Back then I had to rely on my Mom's wisdom and courage, as she helped me to be the person I wanted to be. Now, it's me, every dang day. What is important to ME? Do I REALLY want to BE the person that these things are telling me to be? Does that person think of others? Is that person kind and compassionate?  Is that person HAPPY? 

      I have to constantly remind myself that if we were truly ALL the image that the world wants us to be, then the belligerent, hell-raising non-conformists like myself would turn it right around and then it would be desirable to be NOT perfectly thin with ginormous breasts and NOT perfectly dressed with a "perfect life".  It's all about "wanting something we can't have" anyhow. I truly think that lots of Big Brand companies think that they have to make us feel bad and inadequate to sell us things. After all, if we feel good about ourselves for one second, we won't have to buy something to "patch ourselves up." 

        I truly hope that the message that my company sends out is that we want to shower our current bodies with praise, gratitude, and a little corseting. We proud of where we've come to, and we're excited for where we are going!   My favorite part of my job is meeting all of the VASTLY different brands of women that all wear corsets. It just makes me giddy. I genuinely think all of my customers are so beautiful. Their varying personalities, voices, styles, laughs, senses of humor.....I just love all of them. 

      I realize this meandered a little bit, but I just want to convey to you a message of joy in the magnificence of who you are. We live in such a rough world that I need these kind of messages every single day. It's not enough to read some little chipper meme and then to go onto my day feeling  like a rock star. I have to constantly shove it down my mental maw. I would like to say that I'm  happy to report that I discontinued ever reading any "ladies magazines" again. I'm not saying that everyone should do this, but I know that for my own brain, I would get magazines like Vogue, and I think that on a subconscious level, I was constantly getting the message of "You HAVE to be thinner and more fashionable to be successful."  We cannot possibly calculate what the lower layers of our brain are picking up, but suffice it to say, we have all jacked ourselves up a bit. 

     So, what does your OWN magazine cover look like? What would your magazine be about? What is important to you? What message do you want to send out to the world? 

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely agree and adore this blog! I don't succeed all the time but I try my best to make the world a better place whenever I have an opportunity. LOVE IT!