I appeared in a Stellar magazine on the weekend (the popular colour insert that runs in the News Corp newspapers in Sydney and Melbourne; it also ran in Queensland and WA). I agreed to do the interview to be able to talk in more (hopefully useful) detail about walking away from “more” and money and “being caught up” and consumerism, following my decision to close my IQuitSugar.com business. A big part of my making this decision to wind up my business was so I could do just this – shift my energies to a broader discussion of what matters. What truly matters. My anxiety conversation, I hope, will be merely the start of it.
But I have to come clean. Somehow I found myself in an ironic position where I was engaging in exactly what I campaign against. There I am dressed in high fashion. Selling a particular image. An image that exists for the sole aim of having the public buy into, well, a bunch of things. For a double whammy triple-pike moment in irony, the coverline -“It is a recipe for misery”- was said in reference to being caught up in the consumerist cycle, not in relation to fame, fear or fertility (see my Instagram views on this below).
I don’t want to blame anyone for this (and I don’t want to read as ungrateful!). Right now, this is how life works. This is where we are at.
I asked if I could wear my own clothes in the shoot. Understandably, this was declined. This is how life works. Magazines stay afloat off the back of consumerism (enticing others to buy the fashion someone like me coat-hangers). Cool. Could the clothing, then, be locally made and sustainable? Kind attempts were made to attend to this, although I have to own that I realised after the magazine went to print that I’m wearing Victoria Beckham on the cover. A reflection of my cluelessness in most things sartorial. Again, this is how life works right now. Not everyone is on to the how and why of making such choices. I understand.
Ditto any kind of dialogue that questions consumerism. Most people I come across don’t mind – and even sign up for – the diatribe. They talk it. And “like” my posts about plastic waste and the tragedy of takeaway cup use. But the reality of it, the practical living out of less…well, right now it’s not how life works. The system – what we desire, what we value, how we spend our weekends – is bound up in the consumption cycle. To break from it’s loop is to be cast out quite far. We don’t have a picture – sitcoms, heroines, magazine shoots – yet of how this field beyond the loop can work, what it will look like and feel like and how it can make us happy.
There’s a neat poignancy, for instance, in the fact that no one seemed to have noticed – including my friends and peers – the glaring irony/hypocrisy? of the high fashion image used to illustrate my story.
I did. I felt awkward. But I’m going to go easy on myself. I did what I could to steer things, and then had to go with the process in that moment. And with what the team of freelancers had been briefed on and had put their creative care into. I probably could’ve stood my ground. But I didn’t, knowing, possibly, I could always own the situation on this blog here once it played out and that this would possibly be interesting and productive to do so. I was also having a vile day (no sleep) and knew that any firm comms were going to come out cranky and alienating. I lack delicate nuance in such moments. It’s a weak point. That said, if I’m really going to own things…the team also did a very good job. I mean, the colours, the shape, my makeup. I found myself buying into an image of myself that looks more sophisticated (and younger) than I am!
I posted on Instagram, however, an invite to continue a conversation around less. As I say in the magazine article,
[clickToTweet tweet=”I have a responsibility now not to be the sad person who wants more and more.” quote=”I have a responsibility not to be the sad person who wants more and more.”]
I feel I have a responsibility to agitate this conversation that, I believe, we’re all craving. Mostly because I’m ready to. Shall we do it? What shall we chat about?
It’s funny, over the weekend I was reading a bit of Pema Chodron (again). She bangs on in The Wisdom of No Escape about going to your edge (your particular pain) to be able to cut the ties and be less dependent. That is, to grow up (which I’ve been exploring for a while). We want to be less dependent on others’ approval, validation, stuff, fashion, etc, don’t we. This, she says, is the path to waking up. We need to be at our edge. She also talks about starting where you are…
[clickToTweet tweet=”Whatever life you’re in is a vehicle for waking up” quote=”Whatever life you’re in is a vehicle for waking up”]
Whether you’re exhausted from juggling kids and work, whether “you’re alone and you feel lonely and you wish you had a mate, that’s the vehicle for waking up”. We can start this conversation wherever we are.
Even from a space where you find your values are compromised and you’ve been “caught up” in the cycle despite your fired up, committed attempts not to. This can be the vehicle for waking up.
PS, I’ve included a scan of the article, because many of you asked me to if I could, given you live overseas etc.
PPS To tidy some facts in the article: I did not grow up in a hut (??!!), I did not get artificial insemination twice (it was once and was straight insemination), I did not study chemical engineering (the discussion I had was around turning down a scholarship to do so), my bringing was not “poor “(I very carefully pointed out that my family prefer the more nuanced term “broke” for reasons I very much respect) and my knees were knobbly. Not knobby. Hey, I care about these things and how my family is portrayed…