Friday, December 31, 2010

31 December 1956 “Marilyn Monroe: The Embodiment of the 1950’s? Auld Lang Syne”

Marilyn moved back to CA this year, having lived in NYC since 1954, when her marriage to Jo DiMaggio failed. She moved to the city to enroll in Lee Strasburg’s acting studio. Though close in age, he and his wife and family almost took her up like a daughter. Something which greatly affected their daughter and actress Susan Strasburg who played the younger sister in Picnic in 1955. She would  later reprise the role of Anne Frank on Broadway at the age of 18. Of Marilyn she said, she was like an older sister she loved but of whom she was also greatly jealous.
Marilyn’s time in NYC resulted in her marrying playwright Arthur Miller this year on June 29th 1956. They then moved to England to work on The Prince and the Showgirl. Not one of Monroe’s more well received films.
bustopposter Her reason for returning to Hollywood was her upcoming work on the film Bus Stop. The film was released in August 31st of this year. It was a more dramatic piece for Monroe and better received by film critics.
She does, however, sing one song in the film, “That ole Black Magic” Here it is: (I could only find the version that the talking was dubbed in French, but the song is left in it’s original version of Marilyn’s odd ‘Southern’ accent. I wonder what actual Southerners thought of her ‘accent’)
During the filming of Bus Stop was when Monroe really began abusing sleeping pills and prescription drugs in general. We shall never know if her ultimate end was her own on purpose or by accident. I personally feel it was simply a mixture of Depression and a mistake. One could easily, when popping pills with such abandon and mixing them with alcohol, make themselves unknowingly a deadly cocktail.
In 1961 when she had been released from a psychiatric hospital by then divorced husband Miller, she almost overdosed after singing “Happy Birthday Mr. President” To President Kennedy at Madison Square Garden. She and Miller were then set to remarry on the 8th of August 1962, but Marilyn Died on the 4th of that year.
There is almost something of the 1950’s distilled in Marilyn. Her rise from a simple girl in the late post war 1940’s to a big star. She was basically physically remade with plastic surgery and various lessons during the 1950’s. The curvaceous gold digging  femme fatale ambition of her characters was almost a representation of the 1950’s in America. The sudden rush of wealth and endless new drugs and fun. One didn’t know what to do with it, so we enjoyed it, played and made the world bigger and better in one short 10 year period. But, in many ways, maybe it was too much too fast and too soon. As Marilyn ebbed, so to does the life of plenty we were just beginning to get right. Even her own demise at her hand really is rather a metaphor for us. The power, the nuclear power, the money, the increasing need and greed for oil and all it entails, all of it a very deadly cocktail easily ill-mixed could become a death potion rather than a lovely cocktail.
The 1960’s harbor many changes for us that we still feel today. But, as I have discovered over these past two years, there was a sleeping dragon in the 1950’s which we built upon it’s back our economy and lifestyle. As I understand more and more where we came from those short decades ago, I want to fix what was wrong and restore what was right. But, can we find a base to build a dream on? Can we walk on clouds? I am not sure.
As I approach 1957 and see 1960 in the headlights, I wonder. I do know with our modern technology of the computer we are able, we vintage minded, to seek one another out. Though we may all have different reasons for harkening back to a past many of us were never originally involved in, I know there is a common thread there. And that, that thread, could be the beginning of a great garment in which we are all seamstresses. I hope it is a wonderful quilt of accomplishment and success that we all work on together. I think if we are mindful of our stitches we can succeed. That is enough of that metaphor.
I hope all of you have had a wonderful year, I know 1956 has taught me a lot and I look forward to 1957. Tomorrow, hopefully, I can be more specific about how and what I feel 1957 will be for me and this blog/site.
50snewyearseve2 50snewyearseve1 Happy New Year and as always:
Happy Homemaking!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

30 December 1956 “Christmas Gifts”

I know I have been on a sort of sabbatical from posting lately. I think the rush and excitement of Christmas left me not bothering with my computer to much, so I am rather late in sharing some Christmas gifts with you.
christmasmorning56 Here is Christmas morning. We forgot to snap a shot until we had already begun unwrapping. You can see Sophie, our little Italian Greyhound, has already been in her stocking and is happily chewing away on a treat from Santa. I chose, via the suggestions of my vintage magazines, to forgo simple green and red for wrapping. I chose Green and pink as a main theme and punctuated it with blues and browns.
50swrapping1Here is a little nosegay of ribbon flowers I made using the instructions I shared with you. This was for our Christmas swap this year at our family Christmas eve party. I made the vintage tag from an old image and used Hubby’s typewriter to type names on tags.
 50swrapping2 Here I created a Christmas beach scene. It doesn’t look very appealing in this photo, but it was rather darling. I used glitter and glue to simulate sand and waves and made my own little clam shack. 50swrapping3 Here is a close up of the little house. What I did was scan some images I have from a book that reproduces early New England buildings that you cut out and create. They are HO scale if you want to use them in model railroads. What I did was scan it and then change the colors to light and bright colors like you find in these Mica Christmas village houses of the 1950’s.micahouses You can see the fun pastel shades and they are always covered in a clear form of glitter. So that is what I did. Next year, I may make my own village. If I do, I will share the plans with you. If you want to recreate this one, here is the full scale version I colored and is ready for printing.xmasclamhouse Just click on it and save and print. It actually has a little front and rear porch roof and railings and a little entranceway I did not add, but you could. I added glitter before I cut it out and glued it together. Just use Elmer's glue or homemade paste and an exacto knife. It is fairly easy to see how it goes together and put glue where you see the little dots. It all affixed to the lower right image with the yellow wood. Have fun if you make one! Change the colors up if you want. It is no longer HO scale, though, as I made it smaller for my package.
I thought I would share some of my lovely gifts with all of you. Now, much as a lady in 1956 would have done, all my gifts are not from 1956. I think, unless one was super up to date and modern, antiques and old things were just as appreciated in 1956 as today. In fact I have many books on collecting antiques printed in the 1950’s.
xmasgifts2 Rather I was in 1956 or today, I have always loved the 19th and earlier centuries. Here we see a lovely Paris Fashion plate from 1870’s (one of my favorite times for fashion) framed. It is old as is the frame. An actual antique little boy doll. A collection of Sir Walter Scott first printings and a little book by a 19th century Baroness.xmasgifts1 Hubby knows I am trying to brush up my French so I found these lovely French Novels and books in French. My French was always schoolroom French so my reading was much better than my speaking.
xmasgifts3 I was so excited to get this cookie press. I have been coveting one for ages. Now I can make proper Spritz cookies as well as other things. They are also great for making savories for cocktail parties or fun tea sandwich spreads.
Here is a good Spritz Cookie Recipe:
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Sift together the flour and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the egg yolks, almond extract and vanilla extract. Gradually blend in the sifted ingredients. Fill a cookie press with dough and shoot cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. If you like, decorate with sugar or sprinkles at this time.
  3. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven.
xmasgifts4I was surprised to see atop some of my gifts from my Hubby, these darling little vintage pins. They were used in place of bows (he always has been a great wrapper of gifts) Here they are close up. pin1 pin4 pin3 pin2I love wearing pins. They are such a fun Vintage accesory and are usually affordable. You can use it to pin a scar around your neck, decorate a collar or dress, even attach to your handbag to add a little swirl of style.xmasgift6I also received these wonderful vintage earrings in my stocking. They are made from actual shells and rimmed in gold. Aren’t they wonderful. These will look great at Summer parties or boating.stemware As you may know I have a set of vintage champagne goblets that are antique with a platinum ring. Hubby found, at our local church antique shop, a complete set of wine and dessert glasses that match! I was thrilled to say the least.
And you all may know as well that for my Everyday dishes, I collect and use the Temporama form the 1950’s. I have been lusting after the coffee urn for the past two years here in the 1950’s but they are hard to come by and when they appear on eBay are always overpriced.xmasgifts5 I was happy to see that Gussie and Hubby went in on one for me for Christmas, I was excited! And Gussie got me a gravy boat AND the matching plate. I once had the boat, but broke it in our move, but never had the plate. The plate is important for drips. I also received a new butter dish that goes with my salt and pepper and sugar.
xmasgift7I also collect antique bird cages. I have always been fascinated by old ways of keeping pets, and vintage bird cages are wonderful to just display or keep plants in or Victorian stuffed taxidermy birds. Or, in some cases, even a real bird, as this one may be large enough for a canary.
I felt my appreciation of older things validated as being “very 1950’s” when after opening my vintage bird cage, I was thumbing through my 1956 December McCall’s I got for Christmas to find this page. xmasgift8A very similar bamboo bird cage is shown here in a display for home. I loved that is used orange as well, as I like to use orange in my home because of all the warm wood tones.
Well, I have had a wonderful Christmas and I hope all of you have done as well. I am getting excited and a bit nervous for the coming year. I still have not officially ‘launched’ my new 1957 project as yet. We shall see, we shall see…
Happy Homemaking all and Happy Coming New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

29 December 1956 “Hungarian Revolt”

In October and November of this year was a revolt in Hungary. I have wanted to discuss it for some time, but it is so involved and also so embedded into the framework of where we are now, that I have started again and again, only to find it all so embroiling I could do it little justice.
Suffice it to say, I shall simply show this video of the time. It shows how those in Hungary tried for freedom and the Communism then present in Russia stopped it. Russia was our ally in WWII and little was sad of this whole matter. Yet, at this time in the 1950’s we claimed, as a country, to be appalled by the outrage that was Communism. This went on with no help from us or other parts of Europe, today we are endepted to and continue to participate with one of the largest and most powerful Communist country in the world, China. Have we learned anything or were we simply only taking it what was told us even then, in 1956.
To all those who fell trying to gain freedom and right I salute you, here at the end of 1956. I can do little to write anything poignant to represent you and little was done to help you physically then. To that, I am sorry.
The new year approaches, new resolutions and hopes swim in our view. The light at the end of a tunnel or a light blazing to blind us to the truths of our current world, I don’t know.
Here is a quick synopsis of the revolt:
The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 (Hungarian: 1956-os forradalom) was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the government of the People's Republic of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956.
The revolt began as a student demonstration which attracted thousands as it marched through central Budapest to the Parliament building. A student delegation entering the radio building in an attempt to broadcast its demands was detained. When the delegation's release was demanded by the demonstrators outside, they were fired upon by the State Security Police (ÁVH) from within the building. The news spread quickly and disorder and violence erupted throughout the capital.
The revolt spread quickly across Hungary, and the government fell. Thousands organized into militias, battling the State Security Police (ÁVH) and Soviet troops. Pro-Soviet communists and ÁVH members were often executed or imprisoned, as former prisoners were released and armed. Impromptu councils wrested municipal control from the ruling Hungarian Working People's Party and demanded political changes. The new government formally disbanded the ÁVH, declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections. By the end of October, fighting had almost stopped and a sense of normality began to return.
After announcing a willingness to negotiate a withdrawal of Soviet forces, the Politburo changed its mind and moved to crush the revolution. On 4 November, a large Soviet force invaded Budapest and other regions of the country. Hungarian resistance continued until 10 November. Over 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were killed in the conflict, and 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees. Mass arrests and denunciations continued for months thereafter. By January 1957, the new Soviet-installed government had suppressed all public opposition. These Soviet actions alienated many Western Marxists, yet strengthened Soviet control over Central Europe.
Public discussion about this revolution was suppressed in Hungary for over 30 years, but since the thaw of the 1980s it has been a subject of intense study and debate. At the inauguration of the Third Hungarian Republic in 1989, October 23 was declared a national holiday.
I worry sometimes of our future, perhaps that is why the past is such a safe place to live. Where are we going, any of us, as a country and a planet? Are we now living in a time when future people will look at us and wonder, “Could they not see it coming?”

Sunday, December 26, 2010

26 December “Happy Christmas”

D 53 I have not posted for a few days. It has been a flurry of activity around here and literally did not have my usual afternoon spot of computer time. In some ways, being away from the computer for a few days in a row can be very addictive. I shall not, however, make it a habit in the coming year and will endeavor to post daily.
How funny that here, at the end of 1956, I should be embracing more the vintage things rather than longing for the modern. I love my computer, don’t get me wrong. It allows me to post and write and also more and more do art and create. Yet, as a tool it is fine, but as an eater of time it can be immense. So, when I found myself a few days without it, I did not miss it. But, I would miss all of you and what the blog has come to mean to me.
I wanted to share some photos of gifts today, but our camera has gone missing. I shall then do that tomorrow. But, these past busy days were fun and well, busy. On Thursday, I went to my nieces and helped her prepare for our family Christmas eve party. It is here turn to host, so I was there to help. We have a theme each year and it has spanned from 1950’s to Dickens Victorian. One year we did a black and white ball and all had to dress in black and white (easy for the boys in tux of course). This year the theme was a pajama party! It was fun. We served up breakfast foods, had stockings on the mantle and Christmas parlor games. What fun!
For food there was crab and dill quiche, vegetable quiche, Quiche Lorraine, French toast bake, home fries, and lashings and lashings of bacon and sausage! And, of course, mimosa’s poured heavily and were much imbibed.
And yesterday, Christmas day, we had our family Christmas of hubby and Gussie and I. Then around 4 off to my MIL for dinner and more presents and a fire and relaxing.
So, here I am the day after the holiday and unable to locate my camera. I will today and then post my gifts, and other photos. I am finding it more and more difficult to remind myself to document my life with pictures. When I started, back in 1955, it was more about the project. My life was focused on the minutiae of the day, what to wear, how to cook, what to serve, what I would have watched. This year has lead more to my growth  in these areas and also an increased practice of, oddly enough, computer skills in my little endeavors to make a site and forum.
Now, however, I find those things most likely worth documenting so normal and part of my life I don’t think of them as unique. Then I find myself thinking, “Oh, the guys and gals on the site would have liked to have seen that.”
To me a girdle hanging to drip dry, the fastening of stockings, laying the breakfast table with vintage dishes and a big spread of food, hat, gloves, and heels. All of these things have become such a normal part of my life, I just have sort of moved on as far as thinking them unique. And, in so doing, in many ways this blog has become more about my day than the uniqueness of the 1950’s. Yet, in my daily normalcy, it is very 1950’s so it is still, in many ways a vintage blog. One can get rather mixed up in time when one becomes a time traveler.
I realized yesterday morning how it was all so normal, yet how unique we were truly living. Hubby, in his vintage Pajamas and dressing gown reading his copy of a 1956 book Gussie had found for him. I, reading my 1956 December McCall's from my stocking, also from Gussie and she in her pajama’s trying on the nice vintage kid gloves  and hat I bought for her. I began discussing the articles I was reading in my magazine, admiring my new coffee urn that matches my Temporama dishes and thought, ‘If someone were to suddenly drop down in our home at this moment they might (if they didn’t look out the window at any modern cars) think they were truly in 1956. Our house is old, much older than 1956, vintage clothes, magazines, dishes. Even our topic of conversation was casually about the article I was reading about the the little prince and princess of England Charles and Anne. Yet, we still are very modern in many ways. It seems, without my conscience effort any longer, we have seamlessly meshed the past and present.
It leaves me realizing how the coming year will still find me reporting from the past (most likely 1957) yet still just living my ‘normal’ life and sharing that with you. And normal for me is rather a mix of the old and new. But, in many ways, I have always been rather comfortable with the past. There was a time when I mostly read books:history, novels, philosphy, etc from the 19th century and earlier. If it was published after 1930 I had little interest in it. I felt a kinship for the old, a look back and what was. Of course college in the 1990’s was hardly an inspiring decade. A sea of torn jeans and flannel shirts, grunge was des rigueur. Even the art world was rather bland, the expressionism and pop art having faded to a bland or shocking move towards performance and process. So, in many ways, my life was probably always on a course towards the past, yet for me in some ways I have come more into the future. The 1950’s were really a new modern world. Of course, prior to my trip to 1955, I had sort of taken on the malaise of the modern urban dweller. Jeans and Uggs. Shopping and materialism. Yet, in my own art, I always found myself portraying or considering the 19th century. As if my true life was simply waiting to be born after being cocooned in the modern for a decade or so.
Now, with  the approaching year I do find myself wanting to look more specifically to art. To the expression in pictures and words. In many ways I consider the past two years almost as a performance piece as well as my life. Now, with 1950’s being such a normal aspect to me, I feel like I can actually express something I should care about in an ‘artful’ way.
Now, of course you all know I consider the art of the Home to be, in fact, an Art form. Running and planning a home, the preparation of meals and the making of clothes, even cleaning all are true art forms. Ones in which I still am a student, yet consider it is a lifetime classroom. But, I have of late come to want to express myself artfully in a more specific representational way. In pictures and words. A children’s book, paintings, drawings these sorts of things. And I think they shall play a major role in my coming year.
My site, a year long attempt that, right now, I am rather disappointed in, needs to be simplified and streamlined so that I might focus more on my creating and then simply sharing with you. More time to discuss the art world and also the art forms of the home as well. I think a good homemaker can talk Rembrandt and Redecorating and Cleaning, don’t you?
So, here comes the new year and I hope all are getting ready to face it with new challenges and new excitement in improvement and joy in the Home and family. Happy Homemaking.
I will close with this song, “He’ll be coming down the chimney” which was the official Christmas seal song of this year, 1956, sung by Rosemary Clooney. rosemaryclooneyxmasI could not find her version of it, so here is Guy Lombardo’s version.
And here is a  wonderful Home Movie from 1956 Christmas. From my Vintage Heart to all of you, Happy Christmas and A Wonderful Holiday!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

21 December 1956 “Wrapping Gifts: Another Homemaker’s Art”

womanwrapping I think the presentation of gifts once had as much import as what the package contained. Be it the higher cost of things, the almost non-existent use of credit or simply the time allowed the homemaker, gift wrapping was an art.
This shows another aspect of the homemaker that is something I have come to hold dear: time. Many today might say, ‘Well, the little dear, she just had all the time in the world. And nothing to challenge her mind, so no wonder she spent so much time on making gift decoration”. Yet, consider giving less, taking more time in the wrapping and having the time at home to enjoy that process. Even if one were a working woman, wouldn’t you rather be at home, humming along happily to some Bing Crosby while snipping bows and fastening toilet paper rolls into little soldiers than out rushing through the mall, swiping that card over and over? I know I would.
womanhelpingsoldierwrapHere we see a woman helping a wounded soldier with his wrapping.(Image from HERE) It is of interest to note that though scotch/cello tape was available, many suggestions show that glue as well as string were also used to hold paper on packages. In some cases, we are told in lieu of paper (think of during the war when there was little paper and little to give, one had to decorate as best they could and make the package as nice as the gift)to decorate the plain box with what was on hand.wrapping8 Here we see plastic spoons on plain boxes and even cutting out images from other paper to make a theatre mask.
The idea that the package can be as fun or as important as the gift is shown wonderfully here.penguinpackageThis Penguin would do lovely over a bottle of wine or even, for the cook, some fine quality first press olive oil. I know I am always appreciative of fine cooking supplies and you might get a chance at a fine meal in return for your thoughtfulness to the chef.
funwrappingThis darling and kookie little guy is going to show up under our tree this year. How adorable and what a great way to make use of paper toweling rolls, toilet roll tubes or simply making a tube with scrap paper. We always save mis-printed or mistake computer paper. Sometimes that printer doesn’t want to behave or there it gets jammed, don’t throw that out. Not only can you cut it and staple it to make a fine grocery list notebook, it can go with the crafts for just such times as this, wrapping fun!
wrapping7These three examples are fun ways to decorate that package. The last is ingenious and very green. They have taken a wishbone from a chicken or turkey (why throw it out!) and decorated it with sequins. Then, on Christmas day, the recipient and a partner can make a wish, ingenious.
I also love this idea where one takes one item and arranges it to look like another.wrappingdishclothsHere it is dishtowels/tea towels arranged to look like baby clothes. Wouldn’t this be a lovely idea for a baby shower? You could fold cloth diapers to resemble this little outfit. Or men’s handkerchiefs could be used and see Father’s eyes when he looks to mother with that questioning look “Mother? Is the stork coming?”
These remaining images show some fun ways to make bows. What is interesting is the color range of Christmas paper, it isn’t all red and green. I have decided to do some pink and green this year, as I rather like it together and it makes me think of Spring. I found some plain green paper and pink ribbon.
wrapping1  Following these images are the ‘How-to’ for these bows.wrapping2wrapping3wrapping4wrapping5Here are the instructions. All images are clickable to become larger.
    ribbon1 ribbon2
roseribbon2I adore these roses and here are the step by step guides. I might have to make a pretty pink nose gay atop my green packages.roseribbon1 roseribbon3  wrapping6    I like this idea as well, because the little seed packages atop a gardener’s gift (a book or garden gloves or little metal row markers) would be much appreciated. Especially since I will be starting seeds in January, it makes a Gardner’s heart beat quickly to get thinking about getting back to that soil.
So, I hope these ideas are not too late (many may have all their wrapping done) but they certainly could be added to gifts already wrapped. Enjoy and Happy Homemaking.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

19 December 1956 “Q & A Sunday: Am I Beautiful”

This month I have tried toying with little bits of the modern world to see how I feel. Dipping my toe into the pond, if you will. Checking the water and seeing if I want to dive in. I also often get questions about how I feel the modern world is in regards to a woman’s image compared to the 1950’s. Many see the 1950’s as a very oppressive time for women. In the kitchen in the apron at their husband’s beck and call or given bad role models in schools and university. I am finding that what we have today on a very subtle level for women’s body image is actually dangerous, even to the point of death for some.
One of the things I have done this month to test out the modern world was watch this Documentary HERE. (You will have to sign into HULU as it says it deals with adult content. However, I found it interesting that there was not really any nudity and no language. It was almost as if they didn’t want young people to see what it is they are being exposed to so that they could still BE exposed to it.) Please, if you have some time, watch it. I think it is rather well done and it deals with beauty image and worth watching. If you have a daughter, perhaps watch it with her. I think it is really eye opening.
It, however, made me repel a bit. Just as my flipping through some modern magazines at the store the other day or a foray through racks of clothes while out Christmas shopping. I am rather timid about the modern world and rightly so.

47voguecoverspring This is a 1947 cover of Vogue. Certainly the model is thin, yet she seems a real person. 1940vogue Now go back to this 1940 Vogue image. This model is beautiful, but i can tell you today there are many Photoshop areas that would happen. The little bit of arm flap on her raised arm would be removed. The little curve of skin under her forearm would be gone. The rippling on her neck and the slightest little line on her throat would all be gone. That mark above her eyebrow would disappear.
These lovely ladies in the 1940’s are very healthy looking. But today they could not be high fashion models.40sswimsuitmodel1 40sswimsuitmodel2 These girls legs would be considered too fat and not toned.40sswimsuitmodel3 The girl on the right, a healthy weight, would feel bad about her little tummy and the extra ‘fat’ on her upper arm. Why wouldn’t she if she lived in today’s world, where even if she was not looking at high fashion magazine’s but simply shopping for swimsuits on a site she would encounter this.swimsuitmodern This is not even a high fashion shoot. It is an ad from a site where you can purchase this suit. This girl’s thinness, with her ribs fairly easy to see, is built like a 5 year old thin boy. modernsuitmodel Her high fashion counterpart is no only very thin but obviously so because she is most likely 12-14 and has not hit puberty full on. Boyish hips and skeletal legs. This seems very familiar to me.childindarfur Fashion shot? No, child starving in Darfur. Is it beautiful? Is it the ideal?
And, if we think this warped body image is only affecting teens, take a look at this runway show.childmodelCompared to this 1950’s Life photo shoot of little girls on the beach.50sgirls bathing suits One say’s let’s play and have fun and the other, well I don’t like to say what it says, particularly when it is being applied to a girl under 10.
This is amazing to me because this element of being ‘plugged’ into the media of the modern world doesn’t only work on your physical feelings. As I almost exclusively look at magazines printed no later than 1959, I have, in the past few years, become less enamored with things. A flip through a modern magazine makes me feel not only bad about my body, but covetous of things. A woman’s magazine or an architecture magazine today is an instrument of covetousness. Not that the old magazines weren’t selling you things, but in the 1950’s ladies magazines there are countless ways to make and create your own idea and ideal of the perfect home. It isn’t all stainless steel and granite kitchens full of high end restaurant appliances despite the fact that most families only use their microwave, or oven to heat up prepared foods.
In a way, these past two years have been an almost psychological cleansing for me. By simply depriving myself of any modern advertising and tv, it is amazing how over time my idea of happiness and my desires have changed drastically. Yet, give me a modern magazine for a few minutes and those old feelings come rushing back. I think we honestly do not know how much power all the modern media we are plugged into have on us. Even simple tv shows we might watch are full of subtle hints at what we SHOULD want and that pursuit of some happiness or ideal that is just out of reach. If we stop looking or striving for that happiness, we would stop buying and start looking around and living. We would enjoy what we have and who we have around us. We would even think, what of those who have less than I? And community might begin to reform.
In so many ways it is just easy to live in the modern world. We can just plug in and watch and covet. It can be harder to break free, yet once we do we begin to see how much easier it actually is to live outside of it. I mean to say, it is easy to go and buy prepared food, sit and just veg rather than read or play games together or plant a garden, but once you begin to the those things and try to go back to the other, you find them empty and vapid. It is as if the ‘hard work’ we think is involved in really living is actually easier work that is more inviting and engaging in being alive.
I know for me the more I disconnect from the modern world via media the more I feel connected to myself and those I know. Although in so many ways, when I am out and about I do feel a disconnect from those around me in shops or generally, in that I cannot understand them anymore. The impetus that compels them, though once my own, now seems so alien as to seem as if I have actually travelled here from another time.
So, back to the point of our body image: It is obviously distorted. What was once considered beautiful would now be considered chubby. And what once appeared in magazines would no be air-brushed into a way that is not possible. Why is it that we do value looks more than brains? Why is it that it is mainly on the women than the men that such advertising is based? We women certainly seem to be the sex which wishes to please and so find ourselves, without rhyme or reason, buying into whatever body image is presented to us. We might scoff at our corset wearing Victorian ancestors and then go continue to obsessively read about how to lose weight, how to eat to get thinner. And the irony in the entire situation is that we are all more fat than before. Our models were once a bit thinner than the average, but overall similar in size, now they are anorexic and we, as a nation, are dangerously overweight?
You see the more we are feed an image to strive for, very very thin and then advertised to fatty and unhealthy foods to eat because they are easy, we are on an endless cycle that will GUARNTEE consumers. If we keep finding ourselves heavier than the ideal, then we will buy more products to get thinner, we will also drastically change weight, needing to purchase more clothes and as clothes are so cheap we will buy things smaller in the ‘hope’ that we will wear them. The modern world of consuming is specifically set up to make us unhappy, because that makes a better consumer. We want more and then we need the shopping to feel good as well.
All I can say is if I had a daughter today I don’t know what I would do. How could one shield her from the very world? Where can one go that is NOT plugged into the world? Wifi and TV is even in some of the most remote areas now. If you have watched the documentary you will see the results of body image in one generation to the native people. Their ideal of a heavier woman, such a normal cultural part of their ideals, changed when tv was introduced and the next generation of native girls were throwing up to be thin. It is a powerful tool and when we think it is okay for our children to simply be allowed to be plugged in all the time and then wonder why they do what they do, it is almost a blind naiveté, yet what can one do? We are IN the modern world surrounded by technology. But, ask yourselves why? Why did you let it in? Why, when it knocked at the door did you say, “Come on in, have a seat, of course we all need cell phones, hand held computer devices, tv’s in every room, video games piled to the ceiling, movies at the drop of a hat”.
If we look around our home and our lives and really stop and consider, how much is media and modern outside sources affecting my and my families life? Now consider the 1940 family. The radio is there, the first outside intrusion into the privacy of the family, but no tv and in many cases not always a phone. How did they live? Were they Neanderthals clubbing one another on the head going about in loin cloths? When is it enough? Will we always need just one more device, just one more way to be entertained or aided, “I can’t drive without a machine telling me when to turn right or left”. When? I think, as we approach the day that in our country has become the most consumerist day of the year, it is worth thinking upon. And to ask ourselves not only are we ‘un-happy’ with our bodies, but are we happy with our lives? Do all the things we have make us happier or more well adjusted? Are we better off than our grandparents generation because of all we have? Are we more connected with our children or each other?
Let me know what you think. If you can prove me wrong, I will be very happy. I would love to find a way to return to the modern world in some way, but fear to give up the calm and connection I have found by simply unplugging myself. I know that sounds odd as I am typing this on my computer, but this is a machine I use to set down my thoughts and make creative objects as I would a typewriter, an encyclopedia or a canvas and paint. It is not my window into the world. But, is it realistic to think that we, as a people, could ever live that way en masse? Or is it simply to easy to just sit back, plug in, buy and ignore ourselves and those around us and continue being covetous and simply gratifying it with a click of the mouse and Paypal? I don’t know. Watch the Documentary and let me know how you feel about it.
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