Thursday, November 02, 2006

Culture Shock

Magazines are a treat I allow myself during long days of airline travel. This past Monday I flew home from Prague and anxiously anticipated the magazine store in the Newark airport. "Hmmm, only choose two. Pace yourself," I said.

Marie Claire and Oprah prevailed. Marie Claire has not been in my travel purchase top spot for over a year now. In the past there was a monthly international women's issue feature that justified the acquisition. This month my reason included knowing someone who was going to be featured in the magazine.

Flipping through the pages looking for my friend, which I never found, created an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Headlines including, "20 Things to Get Before 40" and "What $100 is Worth Across the Globe" covered the pages. Apparently, in Hong Kong a pair of Levi's costs $100. That same $100 will buy rent for seven hours in a one-bedroom condo in Manhattan. It was never mentioned that, according to the World Bank, 1.2 billion people are estimated to live on less than $1 per day.1

My comments are intended for observation, not judgment. After all, I am the one who purchased two magazines that cost me seven times the amount that many live on in one day. But why does our country seem to be so beauty and finances obsessed? What are we missing that we think can be purchased or created in a look? Page 113 suggests that the number one thing I should get before I'm 40 is a YSL tux for women. Well, now that seems like a fabulous idea! What on earth would I do with a $3,560 tux? Unless it walks over to me on the body of the yet to be discovered man of my dreams, I don't think I'm interested.

There was a glimmer of hope when I turned to the article titled, "What I Love About Me." 15 women were asked for a beauty statement and described what they liked about themselves. Shari said, "I had my lips tattooed, but I'd never do my brows. As your face ages, you never know where they'd end up!" Ky's statement, "I have my father's black eyes but I bought these gray contacts and think it's a more interesting look." No! Why cover up what is uniquely you?

Maybe my rantings are a result of reverse culture shock. It's pretty typical for me after being away from our consumer driven economy. Maybe by next month I will have adjusted and placed the tux on my Christmas list. It might be the most elegant and amazing look created.

Regardless, next time I'm buying Budget Travel.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

reading magazines like those definately warp my mind at times. It is startling to realize that is our culture. Lately I've felt I put too much energy into criticizing such ideology and not enough into responding positively. It's pretty impossible to fully get away from such rampant headlines, but I want so surround myself in other ways ot thinking and meaningful types of activity instead. And I'm definately in search of magazines/publications that delve into more valuable conversations that feed my soul.


12:17 PM  

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