Better Homes and Gardens. I should have been warned by the magazine's title. It is not, after all, Contented Home and Gardens or Make Do Home and Gardens or Thrifty Home and Gardens or even Happy Home and Gardens. Better, being the key word. As if this is what we should all be striving to attain, as if what we have is not good enough, but in constant need of improvement. An attitude I regrettably already find myself possessing.
It really peeved me off as I flipped through January's skinny little issue. (Why do January editions of magazines have to be so flimsy, btw?) Sometimes I like the January magazines because they focus on getting organized. An obnoxious goal, but one I can't seem to let go of. But in this issue, the home decor articles featured people who somehow at the dubious age of mid-30 had neatly arrived at their brand new or newly remodeled dream home. And the "organization tips" seemed to be mostly centered around homes with lots of square footage, modern layouts, brand spanking new furniture, expensive remodels and built-in cabinetry - the sort of things I've seen in a multi-million dollar Parade of Homes tour. They give us average Janes something to dream about, but they're not obtainable in middle class homes or budgets.
These are all lovely things. Lovely. Really. For those who can afford them. And I don't knock those people or dislike them just because they can afford built-in custom storage. But let's get real here. It's the want of this crap, the expectation of it, the ache for it, that's bankrupted and impoverished many a middle-class American. (Rant alert!) And seeing it posited in a magazine as the "better home" we should be modeling our home after only feeds this problem.
As I fumed and thumbed through the magazine, the word that came to mind was "aspirational". And the truth is that most magazines (and many blogs for that matter) are aspirational. Fashion magazines want you to aspire to their trendy clothes and accessories. Health magazines want you to aspire to their skinny "role models". And so on, and so on. But I just seem to tune it out most of the time. Probably because I"m in a hypnotic state myself as I read them.
But gosh darn it I snapped awake this week and just got annoyed. It's lovely to dream from time to time of waking up in a Parade of Homes home. But if it starts to dwell inside of us as some kind of standard to aspire to, some kind of standard of perfectly organized, gorgeous lifestyle we should all be living, then it can eat you or your bank account alive. And that's not living. That's disease.
Guess it's time to cancel my subscription.