A LIFE’S JOURNEY THROUGH MAGAZINES
As I get older and older, I have noticed my change in habits when it comes to magazines.
Of course in my teens, like most girls of my era my age, I was partial to “Seventeen Magazine”. I wanted to look just like Christie Brinkley, and I thought that if that wish could magically be fulfilled, I would be happy, get straight A’s in school, and would be married to the captain of the football team by the time I was twenty-one. It didn’t seem to matter in my fantasy world that I looked nothing at all like Ms. Brinkley. I failed to see that I was 5’3”, had curly brown hair, brown eyes, short knees, and a curvaceous figure, which would not be reduced to model dimensions. No matter what I did, I would never look like Ms. Brinkley. Furthermore, I would never have straight A’s, and I didn’t even like football. Who was I kidding? So I gave up “Seventeen”.
In my twenties, I was partial to “Cosmopolitan”. I saw myself as the quintessential “single girl”. Helen Gurley Brown was my guru. I figured, “Okay. I’ll never be Christie Brinkley, but I’m a modern, liberated, young woman.” So I read and filled out all the questionnaires with True/False statements such as, “I am good at getting what I want in bed” (or something like that). “Yes!” I declared. “I am good at that!” Well, no. Not really. And while I also dutifully read “Time” and “Newsweek” as part of my liberated woman program, after a while (around when I hit my thirties) I began to ask myself if this was all I wanted to do – Turn myself into some kind of a she-male sexual predator in order to snag some poor unsuspecting man. (After all, we must remember that Helen Gurley-Brown started out as Helen Gurley). “No, that’s not quite me”, I concluded. So I stopped reading Cosmo.
In my early thirties, I went back to graduate school. I got about a ten-year hiatus from all but professional journals. I saw myself as a “serious” woman striving to create a “meaningful career” in the helping professions. I liked seeing myself that way. In fact, I was largely successful in that role for a time, and it was very refreshing to focus on somebody other than myself.
In my late thirties I met and married Art. Soon I had decided that I needed to go back to writing music, so for another ten years or so, magazines were not on my short list. Even bridal magazines were out, since this was not a first marriage for either of us, and it just seemed weird to think of myself as a “young bride”.
In my forties I began to see myself, perhaps for the first time, as mortal. I began to understand in my heart that I was “middle aged”, meaning that I was roughly halfway through this life. So I began perusing “Prevention” magazine. “Yes”, thought I, “I may be middle-aged, but I’m a YOUNG middle-aged woman. I think young. I act young. I eat and sleep young. And with the help of a couple dozen supplements, by God, I’ll STAY YOUNG!”
Now in my fifties, I have to say that I am in transition. I still take the supplements and I try to stay active. My antennae go up every time a health guru gets on television with the latest news on “anti-aging”. But I can feel a shift. Now when I’m in the grocery store and my eyes wander over to the magazine rack next to the cash register, they only glance at “Prevention”. Then I tell myself, “I’ve seen it all before. ‘Eat sensibly, exercise, and don’t smoke’”. That pretty much sums it up. Then I notice my gaze drifting to “Country Cottage” or “Real Simple” or perhaps even “Woman’s Day”. I am drawn to articles about organizing the home, getting the most for my money in the supermarket, or twelve healthy meals you can whip up in no time. Even “Consumer Reports” beckons. Who am I now?
Maybe you can’t really define a person by their magazine of choice, but it says a lot about us – especially about our stage of life. (AARP Magazine is now a staple in our home)! Next time you’re visiting someone for the first time, check out the selection on the coffee table. You’ll get the picture.
© 2005, Robin Munson