I am vexed.
Vexed because yesterday I was looking at glossy women's magazines in a waiting room and I realised, not for the first time, that they all pretty much have the same effect of making you feel miserable about yourself. Insidious little words and phrases put together like perfect weapons of mass esteem destruction. Yesterday I felt miserable, not because I felt insecure but because I saw this one cover and my immediate thought was that it must have been written by an actual stupid person and if that actual stupid person was a woman (I did not check but I presume it was), then she should be ashamed of herself.
It's headline was 'Incredible Women' followed by a list entirely made up of beautiful, thin, models, actresses and fashion designers, all of whom seemed to be incredible through the seemingly effortless task of being beautiful and/or thin. I don't know about you but I don't think that there is anything incredible about a woman who looks pretty. Incredible to me is someone who has achieved something against the odds, cared for someone, fought a something bigger than themselves, figured something difficult out, taught important lessons, lost someone and carried on. Incredible is a big word to be bandied about in the name of looking pretty.
I do not find this kind of shit acceptable. I have a daughter. I want her to think an incredible woman is one who gets up every day and loves her life, does her best, works hard to learn about the world, is interested in others, want to achieve her dreams even if it means fitting them in around a full-time job and/or motherhood. I want her to think that all women are beautiful not just those who fit the warped industry-defined norm of beauty, I want her to look deeper than a person's skin to know the nature of their soul. I want her to laugh in the face of photo-shopped images, botoxed skin, bouffant hair and fake boobs. I want her to feel like all she needs to do to have a beach body is have a body and go to the beach.
I have thus decided in the face of this media buffoonery that I am going to tell Elizabeth from an early age that magazines aimed at women are designed to make you hate yourself enough to buy all the crap they flog. I'm going to tell her not to believe a word she reads until she finds out who wrote those words and who paid them to do it. I'm going to start a list of my own. A list of incredible and inspirational women for her to read about, learn about and love. Yeah, some of them might be thin and all of them will be beautiful but these women will be inspirational for reasons other than how they look and that is the story I want to tell.