Wednesday, February 22, 2012

House of Cards

I don't usually have much to say about pop culture. We own a TV, technically, but it's not hooked up to cable, and I can't remember the last album I bought. I don't even have an ipod.

Even when the other seventh grade girls were wallpapering their rooms with posters from Teen Magazine (I honestly couldn't even tell you who they were posters of), I was vaguely oblivious. It's not that I am above it all or just too mature to stoop to that level, I just forget to spend my time keeping up. Perhaps is just an innate lack of coolness, or perhaps my inner self is really 90 years old.

And it's fitting that I am writing about Whitney Houston about a week late, long after all the hype has died down... but I've been thinking: We just never learn. We are fascinated with royal weddings, who's wearing what on the red carpet, who's engaged to whom now, and every golden celebrity's opinion on love, sex, and finding themselves. And I'm completely guilty, too. Even though I might be terrible at following it, I can't help but scan the magazine rack (or the Pinterest feed), secretly comparing myself to everyone on the cover. And-- come on, be honest-- who hasn't imagined their acceptance speech while holding an Oscar?

And yet, is one single celebrity out there happy? Do any of them feel secure in who they are, loved, known, content? What is the last celebrity marriage that lasted longer than 20yrs? Everyone is heart broken over the loss of Whitney, but it wasn't that long ago that we were exalting in the chance to criticize her would-be come back & drug use.

I don't say that to criticize Hollywood. More than anything, I am asking myself, What exactly am I attaining to? I confess, I am insecure about my weight, my body. I look in the mirror and see my flaws magnified. I worry about what to wear, and what others think about me. I wish I didn't-- I wish I was more of the confident, collected person I pretend to be, but in all honesty, I really just wish I looked like Rachel McAdams.

Even though I know they're all airbrushed & half-starved, I feel like I should look like all those bronzed, toned beauties, as though they represent a standard, rather than an exception. But even if I was-- even if I magically woke up tomorrow looking like a runway model, would that change anything? We watch celebrities, one after another, die of drug overdoses, check into rehab, settle for divorce and even get sent to jail. They are lonely; they are empty. They deserve my compassion, not my envy.

I hope someday that I can convince myself, deep down, that it is better to be a deeply loved, intimately known, content & authentic person with a few blemishes than an unhappy, addicted, hungry goddess, alone on my pedestal.

What's interesting is that I'm told it's all a house of cards. From what I hear, Cameron Diaz has terrible skin & needs special lighting to hide her acne. Editors go over film second by second to remove bald spots & wrinkles. Photoshop erases so many blemishes that I could very easily look just as good as Adele did in her last photo shoot (okay, maybe not quite, but, you know, close). I wonder what it feels like for Reese Witherspoon to compare herself to her own image on a magazine or in a movie. How sad to be unable to live up to yourself.

The moments when I seem to have the best perspective is when I am connected-- really connected-- with a few other people. It is completely freeing to sit in your sweats with someone and feel at home, unselfconscious, known. I never seem to worry in those moments about the surface. May I put more of an effort cultivating those moments & relationships than anything of less importance.

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