Reading has always been a passion of mine, but I am far from a discriminating bookworm.
I’ve read classics, like Wuthering Heights, All Quiet on the Western Front, and the Grapes of Wrath. But given the choice between Huckleberry Finn and Marie Claire, or the latest Nicholas Sparks book and Harper’s Bazaar, I’m sticking with the one that will tell me all about “16 Berry Lipglosses You Need to Try This Fall!”
You know that old saying? (Probably not, because I made it up just now:) What’s the only thing better than one book? Two books. What’s the only thing better than two books? A shiny new magazine.
Growing up, our local public library had a magazine swap. I never had anything to trade, but every week I would hungrily comb through the pile for women’s magazines. If I was lucky, there was a Seventeen. Once or twice, I found the holy grail - Vogue! - buried beneath a stack of Field & Stream. Once, I innocently brought home a Maxim with Carmen Electra on the cover that was promptly confiscated by my mother.
I would devour magazines whenever I could get my hands on them. I’d sneak copies of Good Housekeeping from my grandma’s closet or fish Southern Living out from beneath my mom’s bed. Smiling middle aged women rating the quality of their Swiffers and sharing their best recipes for potato salad just did it for me.
I’ve ripped pages from magazines at the dentist’s office, folded them, and stashed them in my bra while the hygienist scraped at my gums. (Once or twice I’ve given myself paper cuts in highly inconvenient places.) I’ve even stolen entire copies of US Weekly from the dentists office, smuggling them out under a cardigan.
What do I do with these magazines?
As a kid, it was a mix of really weird things. I’d shred Seventeen to pieces, chopping out pictures of women I wanted to look like. I started a mural on supermodels on the inside of my sliding closet doors - the idea being that if I ate too much for dessert, I would close myself in the closet and stare at this wall of skinny people as punishment. (This proved ineffective for two reasons: 1) I just really love food. 2) Standing in the dark, squinting at tiny pictures of Keira Knightley was more of a strain to my eyes than my willpower.)
Sometimes, if the magazine was in really nice condition or my scissors were downstairs and I was too lazy to go get them, I’d flip through with a Sharpie and christen each model and celebrity with a new name. I’d sign their autograph in the corner of each page, trying loopy handwriting for one and barely legible chicken scratch for the next. The more hyphenated and Russian-sounding their last names were, the better.
As a teenager, I stuck to tearing out wild patterns and vintage fashion photos that I’d use to create collages across my bedroom wall. My first apartment featured a large, incongruent mural dedicated to historic influences on fashion and art, artsy clippings of brick walls and warehouses, and sad photographs of Marilyn Monroe.
Even now, as I realize that constructing large magazine clipping collages on my wall is something best left in my college years, I continue to rifle through those glossy pages and rip out what interests me. Now I stack these loose pages and hoard them for an unknown purpose.
Who knows when I might need a youthful photograph of Natalie Portman wrapped in tulle? What if someday I face a life-or-death situation for which an artsy Marc Jacobs ad is the only solution!?
For now, my towers of magazine clippings fit under my bed. In the future, I envision teetering stacks all over my home that sway dangerously every time one of my many cats brushes against them.