This morning I was in at Dyn-O-Mite Auto Detailing getting some much-needed work done on the body and interior of my Hyundai Accent. The owner of Dyn-O-Mite, Brian Edwards, was very cheerful and happily gave me an overview of everything that he was doing. During my time spent sitting in the waiting room, however, I consumed two large cups of Tim Horton’s coffee and skimmed through a whole pile of health and lifestyle magazines.
Everyone knows the dangers of our cultural fascination with perfection. Not just physical perfection – though that does feature prominently in the highly-visual platform of magazines. We are also obsessed with being perfect parents, stimulating friends, well-rounded citizens, and innovative thinkers. Each page of these glossy, beautiful magazines portrayed another shining example of humanity. Each article held a warning – of a possible disease, a pending financial breakdown, an avoidable weight gain.
Fueled by inactivity and a slight caffeine high, I felt my gut twisting into itself. What am I doing? I thought anxiously. Sitting here, letting life pass me by. I’m probably accruing bad karma, killing the environment, and gaining weight purely through my present state of stasis. My stress levels rose until my hands were shaking. Thankfully, I happened across an article on how to reduce stress at that very moment. Jotting down the ’12-steps to stress-free living’ in my portable notebook, I tried to commit these handy tips to memory. Then it occurred to me that this was only exacerbating my existing feelings of anxiety.
As I see it, magazines are a dangerous cycle to cultivate on a regular basis in your life. They twist the knife of your own personal insecurities or failures deeper into your psyche. You are more likely to take the articles at face value because they’re presented by experts – often without background context or any acknowledgement of long-term issues.
Magazines are also a business, and I’m sure that they are sometimes reaching to churn out fresh content every month. However, suggestions like stabbing your sex partner with a fork (Cosmo) and sniffing olive oil to lose weight (Prevention) seem ridiculous and would be hard for me to remember, besides. These ideas are trivial, obsessive, and cultivate the same in readers.
What was my solution to the tension created by these magazine articles? I got into my car and drove off with cheerful tunes grooving, and when I got home I flipped to another station and made up a silly dance in the living room. It was simple, not a 12-step program, and it eased the weight of pressure in my chest. Music therapy may be the technical term for this experience, but I just think of it as my quick hit of happy.
How do you manage the pressure to be perfect in your daily life? Please comment below to share or Tweet me @legault_maria!