News of the Ordinary
A New York Times article a couple of months ago has stuck in my mind. It was about women who spend a couple of thousand dollars a month (or was it a week?) on beauty-enhancements. That covers hair styling, color, cosmetic surgery, skin treatments, and who knows what else. You see this kind of thing in the paper all the time.
Since these articles are in a "news"-paper, you figure they must be about a trend--something that's getting to be the norm. But then, if you simply leave your house and take a walk, you will see lots and lots of people who obviously aren't worrying about their every little flaw. The people I know do a bit of this and that, but for the most part they do their best to look good and move on.
What I would love to see is an article that reports on ordinary women. It would go like this: X does this and that, and it's not that much, but she can't be bothered with doing more, because she's got other things on her mind, and in fact her husband thinks she's wonderful as she is. That's the truth, I think, for a large majority of women.
The failure of newspapers to provide any news of the ordinary has much more serious consequences than causing undo anxiety in women. There's no news of the ordinary about Africa. Every story that comes out of that continent has to do with war, AIDS, poverty, drought, animal poaching...always something awful. Every story about Thailand seems to be about sex tourism and sex slaves. Stories about India are about ethnic violence.
As much as we do need to know about problems in far away places, wouldn't it be nice to know what these places are actually like--in a day to day sense? I think if we did it would help us care about the people there. We wouldn't feel so fatigued by the stories about problems that (of course) need to be told as well.
Oh but wait a minute. That story about the huge beauty budgets of very rich and self-absorbed women stuck in my mind. It was actually pretty amusing. It was fun! News of the ordinary would be ever so revealing and informative, but (sad to say) who would want to read it?