I've been thinking about money quite a bit lately, especially because I just got a royalty check. Money for writing. It's still kind of a thrill after all these years, to get money for my words, but I enjoy getting those checks because I can really use the money for things I need, like books, food, books, clothes, gas for my chugga chugga mobile, books, etc.
You get the idea. Coincidentally, I saw an article on Yahoo.com with the compelling headline, "Did Sex and the City Ruin You, Too?" I'm not a big fan of the show, although I did watch some episodes occasionally; however, any headline with the word "ruin" in it usually captures my interest. What got ruined? How did it get ruined? Was Lady GaGa or Justin Bieber or a crazed wolverine involved? Or all three? Is BP at it again?
So I read the article...and laughed. The entire piece is devoted to promoting books (very subtly) about women and debt, mainly due to shopping and living beyond their means, and how this may have been related to the TV show Sex and the City (SATC) and its main characters' predilections for, well, shopping and living beyond their means (although most of this happens off camera, like murders in cozy mysteries, so that we aren't exposed to the actual carnage).
You may think I am making fun of people who watched the show and bought into the idea that a woman has to own $400 designer shoes to enjoy being a girl, and you'd be right. However, I am not making fun of the show's fans who, like me, did enjoy some of what I watched. When the banter was fun and the show capitalized on the absurdities of life we all face as women (and men), I laughed, as did my husband.
No, I'm making fun of people who really felt the show's message was that, as the article states, "women have to look a certain way to be successful" and bought into it by maxing out credit cards, skipping rent, and making other ill-advised financial decisions thinking they would somehow be magically purported to the social status of Carrie and friends. I am also making fun of people who write articles about such people, although I'd do it in a heartbeat if I got the chance...for the money, of course. lol
I guess this caught my attention because I do believe that women have to look a certain way to be successful, and that's well groomed. In my world, which is usually based in reality, being well-groomed doesn't require trendy clothes, insanely expensive shoes, or a handbag that when sold on the black market could feed a family of fifteen in a third world country for a month. It requires self-confidence, clean undies, and a hairbrush whose bristles don't fall out in one's hair right before a big dance.
I also identified with the main character, Carrie, who is a writer in New York City who produces a column about relationships. Our similarities end at the writer part, though. Carrie is the opposite of a nudist like me, indulging in designer duds as if they're required to get into Heaven or something.
Because I dance, I love a nice cocktail dress. Over the years, I've become extremely skilled at finding the most bang for my buck, dress-wise, and I wear them more than once, regardless of what's in style. The worst that can happen is people think I'm shooting for the retro look, which is always in anyway. The message SATC sent was that being out of style is sooooo yesterday, and spending beyond your means to stay in style is a God-given right of the new feministic, empowered female population.
At least one of the women quoted in the article, herself a writer just like Carrie, said that even as she spent her way into debt, she didn't understand how the character on the show could afford such pricey attire on a regular basis, that it wasn't realistic. Well, no! It wasn't realistic. I actually thought Carrie's clothing and shoe addiction was like her smoking, a habit she fought with that kind of made her human. It was a flaw, not a way of life one should aspire to.
But some women did, and that's what the article is about--how SATC ruined their lives. Maybe. The people interviewed who wrote the books don't directly blame the show, but list it as a "factor" in their financial demises. They hint that without the show telling them--in voices that probably sounded an awful lot like their irresponsible best friends--that over-spending is the way to success, they wouldn't have faced their financial crises.
Anyway, I guess this all comes down to, when I read an article like this, that I am fascinated by the players in this little skit--all the world's a stage, you know--and I immediately think character. Given some of my new insights, will a character people love to love or love to hate evolve? Will I build a heroine who's a clothes horse like Carrie? A vamp like Samantha? A romantic like Charlotte? A lawyer like Miranda? Or will it just be a girl like me who seeks the most dependable hairbrush ever created (for under $5)?
And with that, I'm off to shop for books.