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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Exit Strategy

Yesterday, while sitting in a meeting where a new section in the magazine was being tossed around (not by me), my mind screamed, "get me out of here!" This was the first truly desperate thought I've had in the two years I've worked as the editor/associate publisher. I've always managed to fend off the money-driven sales managers who want to prostitute the content just to make a sale (which usually doesn't happen in the magnitude they predict). Not this time, I guess. I offered a suggestion which would make it a little less shallow. But, the change still feels like a direct hit to the authentic voice I've tried to maintain.

"They" want a special section devoted entirely to stroking the egos of cosmetic surgery doctors and beauty peddlers. I don't want to put my name on it. Women need to feel they are enough without the assistance of a scalpel, injection or tuck. Now, I'm not so self-righteous to be completely opposed to an occasional treatment or service to stay looking your best. I've often gazed longingly at other women's flat tummies and longed to have one for myself. But, I'd rather not promote every procedure under a cosmetic doctor's flaw-seeking eye. 

I came into this job knowing I'd have battles to fight. Several battles have been won — temporarily. I'd like to think I've made a difference in some woman's life from something I've written or had written in the magazine under my charge. But, lately the thought, "what's the use?" has entered my psyche.  Do you ever feel that the battle really isn't worth fighting anymore?

All the fight in me has drained out — at least for this job. I strive to have purpose and passion drive my decisions of what I do in life. My drive to stay now is mostly for sustaining my family. I barely feel as though I'm lifting and inspiring women. I feel more like a glorified order taker. I should just be happy to have a job which allows me the freedom of schedule, right? Well, call me an optimist, but I think something else out there might be just as permissive or more with my schedule as a mom (with it's own set of problems, of course) and not be so limiting in its vision. Is this a case of "the grass is always greener?"

5 comments:

  1. I've noticed how many ads for cosmetic procedures of all sorts there are in almost any local publication I receive, be it magazines or coupon mailers. Changing our bodies with the help of surgery or procedures is a big preoccupation in our culture. I find it both sad and strangely tantalizing at the same time. I so sympathize with your desire to fight the message that we need to change ourselves using those means. For these reasons, I really appreciated the article "The Booby Trap" in the last issue of the magazine. I always hope the craze will die down, but I have my doubts. I have many friends and associates who have chosen to have procedures. I appreciate their right to choose for themselves, and often fully sympathize with their choices. I just wish the pressure to live up to more and more unrealistic standards would go away.

    I don't really know what to tell you about the larger issue of finding satisfaction with your work as well as having work that allows you to maintain home/life balance too. Maybe you should hang on a bit with all the changes that are happening and see what emerges on the other side in the next few months. If you feel like you've lost your voice at that point, maybe you'll have to explore other options.

    In any case, best wishes!

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  2. I think there comes a time, with every job- or life in general, that you have to recognize that there are some things you cannot change. No, you cannot completely control everything in the magazine- even when you are the editor =), and honestly... that stuff is everywhere, even if it weren't included here. Your role is to create the balance. With every opportunity, inspire us. Remind us of the important things about being a woman and what we can do to tap into that inner power that IS womanhood. It won't be easy, but it will definitely make you stronger and who knows who else it will impact.

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  3. I see two issues here: the content being published and your changing response to your career. As far as the content, it is everywhere, but I think it's so nice to be able to provide a voice that says: You have the option to accept yourself as you ARE. When reputable magazines feature these types of solutions for personal discontent, I think it feeds into and on the insecurity of women in our country. Don't like your boobs? Get bigger ones! Rarely do we hear the message that boobs don't matter. I have friends who have had procedures done and I respect their right to do that, but part of me has been sad for them (and identified with them--if I had the money I would likely have considered such options more seriously) for the insecure thoughts about themselves that led them to surgery to improve their self-image. Maybe there are some sour grapes in there, as I haven't had the option to do something like that. I have had plenty of negative thoughts about myself over the years, but I feel like living in my imperfect body has taught me an acceptance and understanding of myself as I am--a valuable lesson, indeed! That said, I have also felt less than because my boobs were too small, my thighs to thick, my stomach too flabby, my eyes too wrinkled...the list could go on and on. I spent much of my younger years (and still today to a lesser extent) comparing myself to the American ideal of a woman and disliking myself for not being it. Seeing an article in a magazine promoting a diet pill, celebrity boot-camp, or surgical procedure left me feeling that all of the answers to my problems were external. It took me a long time to figure out that the solutions were internal.

    As for losing your "fight," I suspect that happens when you're trying to do the right thing and constantly facing people with other agendas. The bottom line is money, and that's an ugly factor when you're trying to make an impact on people's lives. As a teacher I see this all of the time. While we're not fighting corporate battles, money matters and often leaes us in situations where we KNOW we're not doing what's best for kids. It is draining and discouraging, and I have had to lighten up on the fight myself, just to stay sane.

    I think the person who posted above is on to something with her comment about balance. If you can balance the message of surgically changing your body with messages of self-acceptance and healthy changes in choices (diet and exercise), then women may REALLY see a true choice in how to love themselves. In your professional life too, if you can strike a balance between fighting for purposeful work and meeting the needs of the financers, perhaps you will find an equilibrium between work and home. Maybe the balance is askew and a shift needs to occur.

    These are just some of my thoughts, but the bottom line really is about you. What makes you happy, Pam? Where are you at your best, doing work that challenges you but is still rewarding? What is worth fighting for?

    These are just the thoughts that have run through my head as I read...please, take what you like and leave the rest. xx Stacy

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  4. There have been several times throughout my career when I was 'done', and desperately wanted to quit. For example, I wanted to leave Merrill Lynch on and off for at least two years before I eventually did.

    I knew that it was the right decision, but some would argue, including myself, on occasion, that it was hasty, when I examine the financial implications of that decision.

    Bottom line: No matter how riddled with difficulty, you currently have a great platform. From this vantage point, explore, meet people you want to meet, continue putting food on the table, seek advice from those that love you, and when the time is right, you will know.

    Whitney

    P.S. Congratulations on the Triathlon yesterday.

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  5. I've struggled in the past as I tried to make sure that the radio or tv work I do reflects my personal "footprint", while balancing the station's larger goals. It is a balance and sometimes you may see the scale tilt too much to one side or the other. But, what is beautiful is that you are there...expressing your ideas, opinions, and concerns. When you speak up, you influence and that is power in itself. By the way, I've so enjoyed everyone's comments on your post. They are all so incredibly intelligent, compassionate, and thought-provoking. xo-Rebecca

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