Image: Huffington Post, censored!
Now that I’m spending more of my life waiting in hospitals, I always have my Kindle with me. But sometimes I’ve found myself drawn to the magazines I never buy. I’m a woman after all so I must be the audience the editorial team have in mind?? I may not have hair but I like clothes to be colourful, imaginative fun; I admire actors and musicians if their talent contributes to my life; I enjoy eating. But I don’t live just to consume or to make an appearance in the world. And any boy flicking through pages like these would grow up assuming that females are helplessly materialistic and insecure, and pitifully self-absorbed.
No more idle skimming. There’s a limit and I’ve reached it. Why would any female want to expose herself to this toxicity? To this mix of glossily illustrated gossip about the implausibly beautiful, and guidance on how to look more like them or cook like them, or furnish our homes like theirs – in other words, to escape the ordinary imperfection that separates us from the golden, gleaming elite? One cover sums it up: Cindy Crawford on approaching fifty and remaining flawless. Sorry? FLAWLESS? OK, I know I’m bald, which you might consider a fairly obvious imperfection even though I no longer do, but forget me. Isn’t our humanity defined by flaws of all kinds, both visible and secret? And have we no identity of our own, every one of us, as individuals – as flawed as the next but unique all the same? Slavish attempts to attain everything THEY have and we lack can only undermine self-esteem and ensure that we lose track of that inner core that’s ours alone. It’s something Annie Capaldi is beginning to recognise at the start of FLASHBACK AND PURPLE:
Annie Capaldi had read somewhere that when we wake, our unique consciousness is only made possible by the particular physical body that houses it. Which was annoying, because it had taken her decades to cut loose emotionally from that body, and develop an interest in the possibility that she might have a soul.
As C.S. Lewis said, “We have bodies; we are souls.” And women’s magazines don’t feed them. Meanwhile, some mags spin celebrity lives as if the goddesses have no souls themselves, making them victims as well as role models. I read the Big Issue. It credits me with thinking skills, informs me and couldn’t care less about my shoes, (hair) or sofa. It’s a magazine for people living consciously in this world, not absorbed by their own appearance and possessions. I also read the Barefoot Diaries, which remind me of my place in the natural world, and our need to reconnect with self, Nature and each other. Even Facebook, since I have thinking friends, offers enlightenment of a kind unknown to women’s magazines. My sisterly advice, next time you see a glossy title at arm’s reach in the dentist’s or doctor’s surgery, is really a warning. DON’T! We’re bigger than that. And at this point on Earth it’s nurturing, peacemaking female values that can make the difference we all need.