At the supermarket, we face the same dilemma a thousand times: Do I get the healthy
version or go for taste? Being skilled in self-deception, I go for taste. "One
cheesecake won't kill me." Times a thousand.
I arrived at the checkout stand with $200 worth of bad decisions and got
in back of the herd. Ralph's has a policy to open a register only in the
event of bodily threats. Standing in line, of course, there is but one thing
to do: stare at all the perfect people.
"Brittany Spears: Are They Really Real?"
"The Rock Explains How to Get Hard."
I don't know when it happened, but the checkout stand has become a genitalia
pageant. Makes you wonder what kind of rack they mean by "magazine rack." Every
month the covers dare a little more, testing the elasticity of decorum.
I took some notes while standing - aging -- in line. Up top, a supermodel
sported a bikini, or was that a tire chain? In the middle rack, a he-man
wore Speedos, and I for one think his parents should have gone with circumcision.
Two teenagers were losing their virginity below.
It's hard to tell when a person is naked anymore.
I think we crossed the threshold when Demi Moore posed for Vanity Fair dressed
only in body paint. The illusion of clothing kept her covered. America tried
to process the image and, when the data jammed its system, shrugged and said, "I
guess that's okay."
Flipping through today's best-selling rags, I realized that America needs
to get a life. Glamour, Soap Digest, National Inquirer. Is this the best
we can do with our brains? Seventeen Magazine showed a girl wearing a bedspread
alongside the caption, "Becky Comes of Age." I guess she had her
Aside from the sex on a stick, magazines are depressing. As if I wasn't
already troubled with my diet, now I had to confront beauty ideals that for
99% of the population are 100% out of reach.
"Is that what I'm supposed to look like? Man, I need a drink."
My question is, Why do we do this to ourselves -- bang our heads on the
genetic barrier? So long as we evaluate ourselves in magazine terms, we guarantee
one giant, upside-down smile. In fact, I don't know why we even call them
beauty magazines when they make us feel so damn ugly.
I saw a cover that juxtaposed Good Oprah with Bad Oprah and suggested that
we kill Bad Oprah before she gets any fatter. The neighboring magazine advertised
a woman who was so skinny they had to snap her photos quickly before she
"Ah, for crying out loud. We lost Kelly again. Can somebody give her
a rice cake or something?"
According to Psychological Dimensions of the Self, magazines are largely
responsible for our self-loathing:
"A large-scale survey revealed that 27% of women compared themselves
to models in magazines very often or always, resulting in widespread body
Twenty-seven percent of women who might have otherwise had a good day.
Men are no different; we just don't let on. Don't think a man can pass a
picture of Vin Diesel without glancing at his own squishy stomach and wondering
if his woman is doing the same. I wake up with nightmares that Brad Pitt
likes my wife. So it goes.
Standing by People Magazine with my cart full of lard, I wondered if I shouldn't
be at the gym. Then I considered how long it would take to undo 20 years
of beer and pizza. Even if I were to fast for, say, autumn, I still wouldn't
turn out 6'2" tall. The cover may as well read, "You Will Never
Mercifully, the line forged ahead and I moved past the Self-Conscious Zone.
As I placed my groceries on the conveyer, a sign caught my eye and a brand
new battle began: Two King-Sized Snickers for a Dollar...