I was brought up in the age of advertising via magazines and newspapers. Paper print was all the rage and if you wanted to know what was fashionable, you consulted a magazine. Of course, if you were sixteen in middle-America, there were magazines that you were not allowed to peruse. I am not
referring to adult magazines of course, just regular-o-magazines that people today barely bat an eye at. Of course, that meant every teenage girl wanted their very own subscription to those magazines. For me, it was Cosmopolitan magazine. I was strictly forbidden to even gaze at the cover while in the check-
out line at the grocery store. However, occasionally I was lucky when going to see the doctor. My mother would wait in the waiting room and I would hope beyond hope that there would be one in the exam room. You see, I loved fashion, and I loved to picture myself in the places the models were in, doing what they were doing, and wearing what they were wearing.
I spent the summer after my sixteenth birthday babysitting in order to purchase THE outfit I saw in Cosmopolitan. I remember it vividly. The advertisement showed a beautiful teenaged girl in very short cargo shorts, fashionable sneakers, a tie up shirt I would have to ask permission to wear, and the best sunglasses. She had a backpack open to reveal the blonde lab puppy she was carrying across a field of wild flowers. Perfect. It was all I could think about and I wanted desperately to recreate that scene. I just knew that it would make me incredibly happy.
So, when the day came and I could buy the outfit, I scoured the mall for all of the pieces. It was exhilarating. I rushed home and put all of it on immediately. Now all I needed was a puppy or a small dog to put in the pack and I could reenact the advertisement. Remembering my neighbors little yappy dog, I hurried to offer my free dog-walking services. With the dog in tow I did not have to go very far in rural Ohio to find a field full of wild flowers. Grinning from ear to ear, I grasped the dog’s leash and we both ventured into the field. I playfully ran, letting my hair bounce like the girl in the advertisement. I could do this. I could be a model. It was a fantasy and it lasted for about five minutes before I saw it.
I stopped in the center of the field to put the dog in my pack, but when I bent over to pick him up I noticed that he felt strange. Then I felt it. First one small stinging bite, and then another and another. The dog was covered in fleas and ticks and OH MY GOODNESS! So was I. I screamed loud enough for the cows to notice as I ran for the car. All I could do was scream and drag that poor dog along behind me because he was too small to keep up. When I reached the road, I looked down to find twice as many fleas and ticks as before. Another very loud scream and the dog started yelping. It was one of those moments in life where all you want is your mother or father or anyone to swoop in and rescue you. It goes without saying that the neighbors never let me walk their dog again and I now have an unfavorable disposition toward fields of wild flowers. However, it never stopped my love of magazines and fashion.
In my twenties, it was the advertisement for mixed-drink sipping twenty-somethings sunbathing poolside in barely there bathing suits and over-sized sunglasses for women that I wanted to emulate. In my thirties, it was the advertisement that showed a fashionably dressed mom in a cute sundress, lacy sandals, and cat eye glasses perched on her head, while she smiled at her two small children enjoying an ice cream cone. In my forties, it was the advertisement for the woman at the ski slopes reinventing herself with a new sport. She was posed at the top of the slope with her sunglasses pulled up toward the top of her head and wearing all of the fashionable gear imaginable.
In my fifties, things are much simpler. I am still a fashionista of sorts, but I am much more comfortable in my own skin. I have learned that fashion is all about what makes you feel good. I prefer to walk and not run. I care about the environment more and about reinventing myself less. Now, I often go out without make-up, and feel better because of it. At sixteen in that field, at twenty-something poolside, at thirty something with my kids in tow, at forty something on the ski slopes, and now in my much calmer fifties, the one fashion item that still fits me perfectly is my sunglasses. I have never given them up. I have purchased better ones; sunglasses that reflect who I am and what I care about now. Today, my sunglasses are Pandas made of bamboo wood. They are eco-friendly, light-
weight, and float in the water. Most importantly though, they are fashionable-just like me.