03 December 2009

Life, Only Prettier

David La Chapelle's House at the End of The World courtesy antimonide.com

I started this blog with a nebulous goal. My Master's program in writing had ended, leaving me in need of a project to make me feel like a writer. As a new mom, staying at home, I wanted a way to keep my brain sharp. A blog seemed as good a place as any for thoughts not related to, or covered by, spit up.

I wanted my blog to be topical, interesting and well-conceived, but I didn't really have a focus for it. All too aware of my tendencies toward entropy, I forged blindly ahead anyway. I'll figure it out as I go, I thought. Eventually, a theme will present itself.

Good thing I went ahead anyway, because six months on I still am not entirely sure what this blog is supposed to be about. Style, not limited to fashion. Design, not limited to decorating. Beauty and food and - this is where it gets muddy - ideas.

If pressed, I'd have to say the blog is a reflection of what goes on in my mind. Not a diary - though I've kept one since I was 15 - because I'm too private for that. I'm distinctly uncomfortable publicly airing the anxieties, insecurities, heartaches and whining that have filled those pages since my sophomore year English teacher assigned a daily journal for homework (Thank you, Mr. Mallen!) Instead, I wanted to make a concerted effort to write about the things that elevate me, make me happy, make me feel good about myself and my place in the world and offer proof that I am living the life, being the person I've long wanted.

In short, I needed to project an idealized image of myself; not necessarily so other people would buy it, but so that I would.

I needed that because, at the risk of being Captain Obvious, becoming a mom is a radical metamorphosis. It begins with the colonization of one's body at gestation, and I'd be surprised if it ever ends. From the moment I knew I was pregnant, my view of myself, of this package I've existed in the last 34 years - changed drastically. Ever since, I have been moving away from object decorated for visual consumption and oriented towards self-gratification to vessel and workhorse in service of Someone Else. As the same time, I went from college instructor to housewife/mom, from wage-earner to coupon collector, from discussions of race and ethnicity to multiple rounds of Itsy Bitsy Spider. That's enough of an 180 degree revolution to inflict whiplash. Is it any wonder I wanted to write my own version of who I was?

It has been brought to my attention, however, that in omitting my hardships, I'm alienating a certain number of readers. People like blogs that invite the reader into their intimate world, especially when warts and all are included. Or so I've been told. I can believe that. I know all too well how painful it is to peer longingly into a vision of someone's life that seems so much prettier than my own, and what an enormous relief it is to discover they, too, suffer from the same afflictions mere mortals do.

Which brings me to this article in today's NY Times. Valerie Boyer is my latest hero for proposing legislation in France that would force photoshopped, retouched images to be labeled as such. Her two teen-aged daughter's struggle to live up to the impossible beauty ideals splayed across billboards and inside magazines goaded her to action. I am 100% behind ending the oppressive practice of telling women they should look like something that it is physically impossible to be.

And yet, isn't this blog retouched? Is it not a softer, back-lit, idealized image of my own life? Yes, reader. Yes it is.

Consider this post my disclaimer.


  1. Blogs are so many things, and I enjoy this one very much. I have had a shocking number of people ask me if I eventually want a book deal out of my blog, and I think book deal for what? For eating other peoples' food and commenting on it? I love that the lack of focus my blog has means that I can write about whatever the hades I want. It's a means unto itself.

  2. I love it too. I just love where your mind wanders and enjoys and I don't need you to go on about the nit and grit of it all. However, I have noticed that my 'drama' posts get the most hits. Harumph.

    btw I gave you an awardee thing over at my blog. Come by and check it yo!