the plastic age

} So I had this experience recently.

I was at the drugstore filling a prescription, and at the check-out, inevitably, were racks of magazines. I was at the end of a long line, so I got a view of all these magazine covers from a distance, right, I could get a sort of gestalt view.

I saw one body, over and over: small, thin, with ample cleavage, tumbling boob-length hair, and a flat abdomen, light beige skin, skin-tight clothes.

And I saw words: sex orgasm men crazy wild secret fat dress baby now belly …

I’m not a consumer of mainstream culture in general, and lately I’ve been NUTSY busy at work (as you can tell by the infrequency of my posts in the last few weeks), so I’ve hardly seen any media at all. So standing in this line and looking at all this stuff just felt like I’d walked into some kind of foreign culture that had nothing to do with me or my life.

But I’ve been so nutsy busy at work because I’ve been so invested, this semester, in paying attention to the students’ experiences of their environment. And this CVS is part of that environment – there were actually students ahead of me in line – and I kept thinking, “What are these pictures and these words doing to the brains of these young women?”

With this point of view of an outsider, an alien, I felt like I was standing at a check-out in an alternative reality that worshiped some kind of bizarre plastic goddess, and all the women were expected to be in training to become that creature, this plastic, orgasming, make-up wearing, hair-curling, taught-abdomened thing that vaguely resembled a human female.

And I looked away from the magazines and at the bodies in front of me in line. They were all different shapes and sizes. Their hair was all different colors, all different lengths, most of it in a state of dishevelment. Their clothes bagged in places, created lumps in others.

And all around the magazine were… drugs. Chemicals that create radical changes in human biochemistry: high fructose corn syrup and nicotine. Candy. And cigarettes. Are they chemistry-altering drugs to help you BECOME the plastic goddess? Or are they to manage the inevitable, uncomfortable dissonance between the tidy plastic goddess you’re supposed to be and the dirty, sticky mess of a human being you actually are?

Standing there in the CVS, I couldn’t help feeling that something somewhere had gone very, very wrong.

I’ve decided to write a book this summer, for realz. It’s time. It’ll be about consent, satisfaction, confidence, and joy. I want it to be an antidote to the check-out counter at drugstores and grocery stores everywhere. If you have thoughts about what questions you’d love to see answered or what kinds of problems people experience or what kinds of amazing solutions people generate to those problems, let me know. The benefit of having the blog is that anything I write ends up being collaborative, so you can bet your bippy the stuff folks say on the blog will inform what I write.