We all know those picture of the beautiful and perfectly styled house, of the living room that looks to die for, the bedroom presented in the most perfect manner, the children perfectly dressed and perfect hairstyles. We know the pictures of the perfect dishes, making drool when just only look at them. A perfect world presented in a perfect magazine, in its perfect world where even a stew or porridge looks amazing.
We look at those pictures and of course we wish our world would present itself in such a way too. So we try. We try to style our front yard the way we saw one highlighted in “Better Home & Gardens”, we try to put those candles in the right corners, try to find the right sizes of candles, of candle holders, to make our living room look as dreamy as they one we saw in the latest version of one of the interior design magazines. We try to dress our children the way the kids are dressed in that advertising because they look smart and pretty and just cool. We love the hairstyles the girls in that said ad rock and for sure we can recreate it too. And last but not least: That dish we saw in that fantastic cooking magazine. That dish that made our tummy rumble when we opened the page. We are pretty good cooks so hey, we can do it, right? Because the recipe is pretty straight forward and for sure we can make it look good.
And then we try. Highly motivated we get to the task. If you are just a little bit like me then you will realize that neither the front yard not the living room, nor the bedroom will ever resemble the pictures in the magazine. Of course I can dress my children pretty nicely (thanks to Target and its neat kids cloths) and they do look cool and smart and pretty in it. The hairstyle thought might become an issue if it gets too complicated. So let’s just stick to a ponytail and maybe an easy braid. There is a gap, you know. As much as I try to dress them cool and pretty and sweet, they are still my kids. And they know that all I want for them is to be comfortable. So if they are not happy with something they will let me know.
Just like my daughter a couple of years ago. I remember that I saw this beautiful golden dress in an advertisement and as we were approaching Christmas I thought it would be the perfect dress for her to wear on Christmas Day. So I went out and found it. It was a stunning lace dress. I bought it just a little bit bigger (as I always do because kids grow, you know…), thinking about how much she will love it and for how long she would want to wear it. I swear to you, she tried it on and I believe that was the one and only time she was actually spending more than 5 minutes in it. She hated the feeling of it. It was scratching her arms. So there it was, my beautiful dress seen in a magazine never to be worn on Christmas Day and although we tried again never to be worn at all by my daughter. I actually started wondering how comfortable the kids were when they did the shooting for this advertisement…
Which brings me to my favorite part: Dishes… Now let me ask you: Do the dishes you cook ever look like the ones in the glossy magazines when you present them? I take pride in how my food looks and seriously don’t like it if it looks as if it’s thrown on a plate. But do I ever get it to look like the one in the magazine in which I found the recipe? Nope, I don’t think so. And I think it’s pretty simply: I have one take to plate it and then it needs to be eaten unless people like their food cold. Whereas the dish on the picture was most likely cold by the time people would have been able to eat it if it was meant to be eaten at all. The only purpose that food had was to get presented in the most amazing manner to then be photographed. And there’s that gap between reality and perfection.
The front yard we see in the magazine was most likely styled for the shooting. Most likely by professionals. The living room and bedroom was styled too, put into the right light and photographed by a professional who again knew exactly how to hide the tricky spots.
The children in the advertising were styled for the photo shoot and most likely kept from playing in the cloths they were wearing with a stylist at hand to make sure the hair would be perfect when needed.
And yet we take it as if it’s reality. We chase after recreating this reality because it looks great and of course we want our front yard, our living room, our bedroom, our bathroom, our children and our meals to look great too. So we chase after it and do our best to then realize that we are still so far from the picture of perfection we have in our mind.
And now I think of the house of a friend on mine and how it always feels as if I walk into one of the places in the magazines because she just has the hand for it, the eye for it and she makes it happen. So maybe it’s just me… but you know what, that’s okay too.
I know that I will keep trying to make my house look nice and my children look pretty, smart and cool. Most importantly I want them to know that they are pretty smart and cool. And will keep trying making my food look good when it’s served but most of all I will keep making sure it tastes nice.
Maybe the gap is not between perfection and reality. It’s about what we want it to be. Maybe it’s more about a feeling and taste than looks. Maybe that’s the gap we need to work on…