Sunday, June 27, 2010
Putting on a Public Face
I've just finished reading Mika Brzezinski's memoir "All Things At Once" chronicling her journey and struggle as a working mother/wife, a woman who has experienced major ups and downs and ups in her career as a television journalist, and one near-miss tragedy in her personal life. As I read it, I could not help but think about a similar book, Barbara Walters' "Audition". In both books, the authors talked about their issues of trying to do it all, their issues of working in a male-dominated profession, and the realities of having to be a pretty face in addition to an outstanding professional.
In some ways it is a relief to know that even women at the top of the celebrity game have many of the same struggles that we mere mortals have. I know many working moms who feel like they have to work incredibly hard just to prove (to whom?) that they have their minds on the job at all times, yet always feel like they are falling short. These same women work equally hard to be great mothers, to spend meaningful time with their children yet always feel like it's not enough.
On the other hand, it also saddens me to know that these women at the top, Barbara and Mika, also struggle with the image issue as well. Obviously, in television broadcasting, image is so important it can get you hired - or fired, something which is not supposed to be able to happen in a fair workplace. Luckily, that is not the case for most of us, yet we all know that hiring managers cannot help but notice someone's appearance.
It is all coming home for me as I prepare to be profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle. I have worked hard to answer the interviewer's questions in a way that I believe truly expresses my beliefs around the world of art. Yet here I am, the day before the photoshoot for the picture that will accompany the article, angsting about every detail of my appearance - as if that is what I'll be judged on by readers.
The balance between brains and looks, ambition and lifestyle, trying too hard and not having the energy to try hard enough is yet another of version of the 50/50 challenge.