Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Perfect House

Like many of my friends, I am on Pinterest daily.  I really enjoy the ideas, especially for recipes, though I fully vet each one before I re-pin it (I now avoid all recipes that include boxed cake or brownie mix because they are not easier than scratch baking and they taste horrible to me).  I like the ideas it gives me for decorating and fashion and the occasional craft, as well as the purely voyeuristic entertainment of seeing what all my friends are posting.

I also subscribe to one magazine, and one magazine only (Better Homes & Gardens), and that is only because the one-year subscription was free with a cookbook I bought for my brother.  I figured he didn’t want the subscription, so now I ogle photos of paint palettes, backyard makeovers, and kitchen renovations.

I had one of those dumb epiphanies the other day (oxymoron much?): all these photos of beautiful rooms in beautiful houses aren’t real.  Not only not real, but blatantly false.  Staged.  Faked.

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 My living room, with the coffee table pushed out of the way to better facilitate running and jumping on the couch

Oh, maybe you’ve known this forever, but I postulate that our internalization of these images of “perfect” rooms and “perfect” houses is a lot like our internalization of the “perfect” female body.  I will NEVER weigh 120 lbs, have D-cup breasts, or boast tiny hips.  There is but one body type presented in the media, and it is “skinny but curvy.”  Okay, maybe there are two, and the other one is “not skinny, but proportionate and curvy,”  because even the so-called “plus-size” models one occasionally sees are proportionate, with hips no wider than their shoulders and breasts that balance those hips.  In the real world there are an awful lot of women who have wide hips and narrow shoulders, thin legs and a round tummy, large breasts and slender hips, a large butt and small breasts.  What is often so discouraging to us as women is that we know, we truly know, that we will never look like models or movie stars without major surgery, and maybe not even then.  And, as a friend in high school once noted, the big problem is that these stereotypes of “perfect” bodies are not just what we, as women, see and try to live up to, they are what men see and come to want.

You cannot have a “perfect” body and live your life.  You start out “imperfect” and then get more so.  You get old, you have children, you get injured, you work…  Were I to be given a choice between a model’s body and the one that has borne children, climbed mountains, and danced on bars, I would not hesitate to choose the body I have now.

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The body that did this

Houses are the same.  If you live in them, they can never look like the magazine spreads or the Pinterest pins.  Children have toys.  Dogs have fur.  Food gets spilled.  The mail has to be put somewhere to be sorted.  I use many pots and pans and cutting boards when I cook.  We have coats and shoes at the front door.

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The front door and the coat/shoe closet

I know it’s not glamorous and maybe would be tough on photographers to frame or pose or whatever, but I do wish that magazines would show normal, lived-in, loved-in houses every once in awhile.  I want things to look nice, too, but I can’t see a world in which we don’t have too much stuff for a too-small house, toys and kid stuff strewn everywhere, and a buildup of junk on the countertops.

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The basement, home of dog blankets, the television, and play-doh
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The other side of the basement, our “office” space

I know I can’t change the magazines.  I can’t make them show a comfortable, cluttered, loved house any more than I can convince them to use models who are a size 10 with a baby pooch and the post-30 upper-arm wings.  But I can show you, and maybe you can feel better about how loved and lived in your house is.

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My kitchen, and the island that is only ever clear when the housekeeper pushes everything into a pile to clean the countertop.

And isn’t my house beautiful?  People live here.  Meals are made and eaten here.  Little boys and dogs play here.  A family loves here.


Kym Kelly said...

great post and ohhhh so true!

Julia said...

Your house looks pretty perfect to me! And your maternity picture is absolutely stunning. How beautiful!

Leland said...

Your house is a mess.

Lauri Lauritsen said...

Oh my goodness...I feel so much better about my disaster!