One of the things I like about August, the fact that it is still summer and beach time is my top reason, is toward the end the big fashion magazines come out. There is something that I just love about sitting at the beach, scanning these fat books because the Fall issues are out, sound of the surf and the smell of the ocean.
I could go with the Playboy excuse, I buy them for the articles, but while there are some interesting articles in there I buy them for the centerfolds and every beautiful spread in between each cover. It is a bit of a mystery to some people who know me and totally makes sense to others.
After all I am a proud feminist - the kind that thinks women should have all the same opportunities as men, who gets angry at any mention of gender discrimination, rabidly pro-choice and women empowered to have options for birth control. I am the mother who teaches her sons their responsibilities in life include their behavior with and toward women as well as how to be embrace women who have choices in what they do for work or what they choose to do as work by staying home. I am that feminist - love Gloria Steinem.
So how am I also using my feminist card as a book mark in these magazines? Recently my brilliant, totally looks like a cover model, virtual best friend (virtual only cause distance is not an issue for our friendship) wrote a blog about how thrilled she was when she first saw Cindy Crawford on the cover of Vogue. It took me a minute to see how every girl out there who was not blonde, blue eyed must have felt for so long. I can imagine not seeing your face if you are a woman of color, mixed heritage, or even just brown haired must sort of make you wonder what is beautiful. I have yet to find me on the cover of any magazine. Yes me - you know hair curly and large (with frizz that is battled), bigger boobs but real ones so they are not gravity defying volleyballs, belly not abs, stretch marks from the babies (oh ok and the Hagen Dazs), gummy smile, age spots and freckles and not a size 0 - not even when I decompose will that apply. It took me this summer and a Dove discussion on a tv show to try and embrace my curls - did not chemical them straight like I usually do because I am trying to give the hair a rest (I love blonde, on me, so that is enough process I think at times ) from the pulling, tugging, chemical relaxers that it usually is subject to. All in the name of that Breck swingy hair - so I embraced it, ok I didn't but it was a lot easier to do it this way and products for curly hair are much better, or I learned to live with it but I look wistfully at my pictures of straightened hair and know that is where I have learned to like it better.
Back to the magazines - I shouldn't like them - they are never me - half of the stuff I would have to get the whole spread tailored together to fit on my frame as it is meant for folks who seem to not have the love of food I do. I may be blonde but I am not the blonde on the covers. Yet I love them, look forward to them and have come to make peace with that kind of like with my curls, they are a part of me. I love fashion - for the artistry, the creativity, the daring and even for being so out there that it is only meant for photographs. I love picking up ideas and refreshing my wardrobe or laughing out loud at the audacity to actually show and design something that is frankly ridiculous. I like the models because they found a way to make money off an asset they have - who are we as women to not support them ?? I love being a woman and not being a man .. there is beauty to me in our genders, or our chosen genders these days or is it should have been genders, and being feminine is not weak how could it be when as a feminist I embrace the idea of being female.
We have to become comfortable with ourselves, to see more variety in the covers but to also look at the covers not as reflections of ideal beauty but glossy pages of art that may not translate to reality. We could look at the fashions and demand that they be more considerate of the workforce they use but not that we toss them aside. I will never embrace that idea of drab, grey, boring clothes lines- I left a Soviet bloc nation and their lack of esthetic was one of the things I left behind. Fashion like art is beautiful but it only defines us if we let it. It is ok to want the beautiful things in life it is only when we never see the beauty in what we may already have that it becomes destructive. I see these the same way I see much of life, entertainment and not always a political statement or an apology for liking something, goodness am so over that mantra as it leaves so little time to actually embrace life and make it beautiful for you and others. So yeah if I could I would totally jump into a fashion shoot, spend the rest of the time asking for that photoshop airbrush and then go home and be the feminist I have become - the one who has the choice to make her money to buy the fashions or not. I am ok at my age to be the one who will give you her gummy smile or not and most of all the one who see these magazines are part of my days at the beach, where with my sons I am content, not as an escape from that reality.
Now like Madonna said "everybody Vogue".....