Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Write Stuff

AS PART of my ongoing quest to prove that I am still an individual in my own right and not solely the mammy of a slightly insane 14-month-old, I found myself purchasing a copy of Cosmopolitan magazine this week.

In my early and even mid 20s (as I have realised I am now officially in the late 20s category), Cosmopolitan was a staple part of my monthly reading diet.
Plonk me on a sofa, stick a glass of wine and a king-size Galaxy within easy reach and hand me a copy of Cosmo and I was happy as the proverbial pig in poop. Yes, I was the classic Bridget Jones wannabe; the advertiser's dream.
I would spend many an hour fantasising about the latest designer looks that would suit neither by budget or my girth. I lived vicariously through the stories of women who worked hard and partied even harder and yes, well I suppose, I found myself following the feminist hard-line the magazine is famous for.
I was, after all, a career woman. I was from the generation who played it straight, going from school to uni to post-graduate education and straight into employment determined that, with the help of my monthly magazine, we could collectively break that glass ceiling and be seen on a par with our colleagues.
And then I got pregnant. And Cosmopolitan suddenly lost it's relevance. While it claims to represent young women the world over, I have to say I find very little in it's glossy shiny pages that represent me and my life.
Cosmopolitan makes certain assumptions about it's readers. Apparently we are all a size 12 (on a fat day), frequent trendy cocktails bars after work every day, are single or in a passionate relationship with a trendy young buck who lives to serve our every whim and have bucketloads of money to spend on the latest designer looks. We don't have children. They are too messy and unpredictable.
The reality of my life is that the last time I was a size 12, my age actually corresponded precisely with my size. Trendy bars are no more a feature of my life (unless you count The Del for a chicken toastie and Diet Coke on a Wednesday lunchtime). Forget the passionate young buck.... himself is five years old than me and saves his passion for the golf course.
My "bucketloads" of money (not that I ever really had more than a thimble-full) have evaporated into an unending debit of nappies, clothes for the wee (but ever growing) man and Vanish Stain Remover (which despite it's best promises and my best attempts still does not seem to have the power to remove squashed banana). And as for the children aspect, well, just read above about squashed banana to know my stance on that one.
"Tik a Brik"
So, it had become the norm that I left the glossy magazines on the shelf (with the exception of Practical Parenting, which let's face it, I buy solely to give the appearance of being a good mother) and opted instead for such high brow reads as Take A Break (Tik a Brik as pronounced in Derry) and That's Life. Instead of fantasising about the life I longed for, I instead took to reading tales of utter misery surrounding 16-year-olds who had three wains, another on the way and whose mother was brutally murdered by said 16- year-old's former partner.
It made me feel good that at least, even if the latest make-up and fancy shoes were beyond my reach I didn't have have a son called Skywalker and a prison record the length of my (heavily tattooed) left arm.
But the thing with That's Life and Tik A Brik is that they are hardly uplifting reads. They convince me that we are all ultimately doomed to either be murdered at the hands of a jealous lover or develop some tragic illness just when we think we are turning a corner in our sad existences.
They don't give me anything to aspire too. The women featured in their pages, while brave in their own ways, are not filled with the same hopes, dreams and fears as me.
They are not, generally speaking, juggling to break through that glass ceiling at work while trying to squeeze their post pregnancy feet (now I know where that saying "plates of meat" comes from) into dainty pointy shoes and simultaneously trying to make sure their children are raised to be respectful, successful adults who wear sensible shoes to match their sensible names.
So I'm stuck between two magazines, neither of which seem suitable for me any more. Maybe it is characteristic of the stage of life I'm at. Yes, I'm a bona-fide adult with mortgage, baby, car and an increasing number of wrinkles, but I'm still not ready for the beige tights, rollers and Cliff Richard CDs just yet. I still like looking at the pretty new fashions and fantasising about having a couple of hundred pounds just to spend on lip gloss and eye shadow.
I can still see the glass ceiling and it's still a wee bit beyond my reach, but I no longer have faith that the Cosmo girls with their obsessions with about the in-places to party and the latest gadgets to make your love life buzz back into action are the ones to help me get there.
So I'm, proposing that magazine publishers out there take note. Can we find a middle ground that suits the ordinary working mother? Enough of extremes on either side, I want to read about someone who knows exactly what I'm going through (And if you want to pay me a wee fortune to head it up for you, I'm open to offers!).

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