LIKE PROPER PRINCESSES, SUPPLE AS BALLERINAS

 Me, inventing the selfie with a disposable camera in 1995

Me, inventing the selfie with a disposable camera in 1995

I am an intermittent Instagram user.  And when I say user I do mean it in that drug addict kind of way.  And when I say intermittent that is because I've learned I can't actually handle having it loaded on my phone all the time; because it is addictive, it steals time from me, distracts me from my real work and many times it does not leave me feeling good.  And I know I'm not alone.

But lest we think this is a totally modern problem, please enjoy this little vignette from Sylvia Plath, the writer of perfect sentences, from her short story "Day of Success".  Even though now the orange-flower tea has been replaced by green juice and home-made nut mylks, maybe as we read this piece (that was written around 70 years ago) we will recognize ourselves and even more than that, feel a little less alone in our true responses to "social media".

"Thumbing through the smart fashion magazines in the doctor's office that afternoon, waiting for Jill's regular check-up, Ellen mused darkly on the gulf separating her from the self-posessed fur-feather- and jewel-bedecked models who gazed back at her from the pages with astoundingly large, limpid eyes.

Do they ever start the day on the wrong foot? she wondered.  With a headache... or a heartache?  And she tried to imagine the fairytale world where these women woke dewy-eyed and pink-cheeked, yawning daintily as a cat does, their hair, even at daybreak, a miraculously intact turret of gold, russet, blue-black or perhaps lavender-tinted silver.  They would rise, supple as ballerinas, to prepare an exotic breakfast for the man-of-their-heart - mushrooms and creamy scrambled eggs, say, or crabmeat on toast - trailing about a sparkling American kitchen in a foamy negligee, satin ribbons fluttering like triumphal banners.

No, Ellen readjusted her picture.  They would, of course, have breakfast brought to them in bed, like proper princesses, on a sumptuous tray:  crisp toast, the milky luster of frail china, water just off the boil for orange-flower tea..."

Be good to yourself, don't fall for too many digital smoke and mirrors.  All of that aspirational stuff out there might not feel how you think it feels.

JESSICA SNOWComment