put your money where your mouth is
It is ten o’clock on a Friday night, an hour before Gelson’s in West Hollywood is about to close. I find myself holding a basket with overpriced goods because Trader Joes has already closed for the night. I am eyeing disaster in the form of large red font underlining someone else’s life. Headlines accompanying the distraught look of a celebrity mishap marriage or rehab gone wrong, tug at the archway of a collective unconscious. A trademark smile turned inside out into tears. It becomes easy to mimic their look, and even easier to deconstruct them. We put them up on pedestals made of glass, shaken by what it takes to survive with the world’s third eye, condemning and glaring.
I shift my ashamed gaze into my basket. The price of my Smart Water (a love affair I had to give up once I read the only reason we had managed to forge such a strong bond, was to be found in the synthesized sugar it contains) is of course, almost double than in any other store. The milk is $6, and the oranges I bought for breakfast, are an even $4 a piece. Yes, organic and hormone free have a price. I am a firm believer in doing my best to try to consume not out of the sheer mass created need for gluttony in America, but to maintain a healthy homeostasis within my body. A daily battle to keep additives, preservatives, and hormones at bay. The European Union will not import American produce because it will not meet their standards for what they would place in their grocery stores. When you have hungry mouths to feed, organic greens at three times the price of a Happy Meal may not be an option.
Steadily, in accepted silence, we watch the prices of everything on the grocery lists begin an upward climb. Forty cents more for the bottle of Pellegrino, toilet paper is $2 dollars more per package, eggs almost $5 a carton (cage free and grain fed). It all adds up in what could appear to be small increments until the total bill reminds you is was probably $50 less a few months ago. If we throw in a three dollar magazine to tell us what to eat, how to reach a faster and more pleasurable orgasm, and compare our own lives to those of fallen media stars, maybe things don’t look so bad. Perhaps the neighbor’s son is not really dying in Iraq, and the families he’s left displaced or dead don’t exist because we can’t trace their outlines on glossy pages. A new dark shade of purple is the color of the season, and teenage pop stars tell us how glorious it is to be young and free in America, and without a clue.
I meet my magazine nightmares in my doctor’s office too.? Waiting to find out if my pap smear this year is still cancer free, stacks of magazines purr a different set of worries. Am I using the right face wash? How can I match the looks on these differently rated celebrities? Do I have all the right accessories to match my personality? What does my handbag reveal about me? What restaurant should I been seen dining at? Will my boyfriend still find me attractive if I make more money than he does?
Across from me, a middle-aged man is vibrating in the message chair as he disappears in years, behind the pages of Spots Illustrated. Next to me, a young woman catches up to speed on the life and times of Angelina and Brad. Above both our heads, rest matted posters illuminating the heaven on earth feel of microdermabrasion and collagen.? After all, this is a doctor’s office in Santa Monica, where if your check up turned out well, you might as well consider more pertinent issues on your way out.
I have been coming to the same doctor’s office since I moved here from New York five years ago. My insurance goes over well. I love my doctor because I feel at ease with her, no matter the issue. We talk about blood pressure, reoccurring headaches, a vaccine against cervical cancer (one I am told I should consider soon, as insurance companies won’t pay for after I turn 27). Perhaps someday, the fears of aging will crawl ride down beside me, and I too may seek soothing in the form of laser surgery. Never once have I been told my skin seems too pale, too red, too real. The nurse likes to give me samples of their own skin care line. They come wrapped in bright pink tissue, cascading out of a shinny black bag. A going away present, a thank you for coming in and a reminder of what is really important. The inside credits of ELLE may one day belong to this skin regime, and together they will conquer our worst fear: not being as beautiful as a Photoshop illusion.
We will eat a righteous diet on behalf of ourselves, the local farmers, and a need to feel like we are making educated and conscious decisions with our money. Our choices speak for us without having to say a word. Put your money where your mouth is. At the grocery store you choose to shop at. Look at the advertisers in you magazine. Become educated about your healthcare policy, if you are lucky enough to have one. In small ways, we each empower the companies in power. Don’t buy into something because of scare tactics, become a supporter because you believe their mission statement is more than just words.