Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Comment On Bitch Magazine's Article, "Eat, Pray, Spend"

The following is the comment I posted on the website in response to Bitch Magazine's article "Eat, Pray, Spend." I strongly recommend reading this article at the following website:

This article comments on the self-help genre, what the article refers to more as "priv-lit." Here is the comment I posted, and of course I would love to recieve comments on my comment and opinions about the article itself. Enjoy!

I Wish Everyone Would Read This Article - Here's Why:

I loved this article so much! I partly loved it because it reaffirmed a lot of what I already felt, but I loved it also because it was so informative.

I would like to add an example that I feel proves that this article has much truth. I have a copy of the March 2010 issue of O: The Oprah Magazine, the cover of which displays the headline “De-Clutter Your Life!” As you can imagine, this issue claims to offer organization or de-cluttering solutions, and if these claims were true I could have benefitted from them greatly. Naturally, I turned to page 155 to read the page entitled, “Organize Everything!” The ideas on this page come from experts in certain areas, like Craig Kallman, chairman and the CEO of Atlantic Records. The advice given to us based on his idea to store music records and CDs is as follows, and I quote the magazine directly:

“To house the hundreds of thousands of vinyl records and CDs in his collection, Kallman is turning a three-room Manhattan apartment adjacent to his own into a music library.”

Wow ... I never thought of that! I should just buy a second home to store what I don’t have room for in my own! Thanks Oprah. Where would I be without your expert advice and creative solutions?

Another reason this article spoke to me is that I have a sister – who is a psychologist, ironically – who buys into the whole “self-help” genre and doctrine discussed in this article. For me, this means that I cannot be free from the doctrine by simply refusing to read the material, because I have a sibling who does, and seems to believe it as if converted into some kind of religion. This would be fine if she kept her beliefs personal and accepted that I am free to believe otherwise, but this religion of “self help” seems to have an elitist effect: the converted believe themselves superior to the non-converted, they too begin to presuppose that there is something deeply flawed and inherently wrong with the non-converted, and then endeavour to convert them under the guise of “helping” them. In my experience, when the help is refused, the non-believer is then looked down upon as stupid and irresponsible. It is just like you said, “it’s the wolf of the mean-spirited makeover show or the vicious high-school clique in the sheep’s clothing of wellness.”

Though my own use of money for self-improvement is not necessarily anything to be proud of, I value the more inexpensive paths to wellness, or at least the paths that are more realistic for my needs. I try to focus not on how I appear to be, but on how I actually am (unfortunately another topic for criticism from my appearance-obsessed sister). I find that attempting new hobbies, learning new skills, and taking classes I otherwise would not consider gives me a sense of accomplishment, growth, and a realization that I am more capable than I otherwise thought. I also keep a binder of various magazine and internet articles that I find appropriate for my own personal “self-help” needs.

I find it very reassuring when Bitch Magazine has an article like this that makes me feel that my own feelings and instincts about things like the “self-help” genre are not just illogical or silly, but grounded in fact. It makes me feel that my instincts about things are more accurate than some would like me to believe, and that I should just trust my own judgment more often.

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