The controversy this past week about the Magic Under Glass cover got me thinking. I'm not going to focus on the race issue because there are plenty of posts on that already and what do I know about it anyway. I'm going to take out my Mom Hat for this one, because I'm not just a reader, I'm a Mom too.
I've read the comments popping up on the related posts here and there and one comment really struck a nerve. A young bi-racial woman said she wouldn't have read Magic Under Glass with a darker girl on the cover because she'd assume the book was about 'issues'. This gave me pause. I wouldn't get upset with this girl; she's just giving her honest opinion. But how have we gotten here? How is it that when a young woman looks at a cover with a person of colour (someone who looks more like herself) she assumes the book is about issues? (Same could be said for a heavier girl too.) Not just a book about an average girl with average problems.
Then we have Heidi Montag who landed on the cover of People magazine. Why? No, she didn't save a busload of nuns from a fiery death. She wasn't the first woman on Mars. She hasn't cured cancer. She had 10 procedures that have made her look closer to a Barbie doll. That is how she got on the cover of People magazine.
I don't have a problem with plastic surgery. If I could afford it, I'd have a few things done. If it makes you happy, why not? But Heidi Montag is 23 years old! What could possibly be wrong with her that she needed 10 procedures after already having surgery a few years ago? Why does she want to look so artificial? It makes me very sad. What makes me even sadder is this is how she made it onto a magazine cover. How messed up is that?
No wonder girls think the way they do when this is the kind of crap they see everyday. Publishers say that this is what people want to see on the covers of books and magazines. That's a chicken and egg argument. Is it what people want to see? Or do people think they want to see that because they have been programmed to think it is? Maybe if girls saw some diversity on those covers, they wouldn't be running out to get those surgeries. They'd see that it's okay look like yourself. That there is nothing wrong with you if you don't have the perfect nose or long blond hair. Being an individual and not just another wannabe is who you should be. Afterall Barbie is a plastic doll manufactured in a plant, not an actual person.
I haven't read Uglies yet but maybe Scott Westerfeld has something there. I predict that in the future there will be no cover controversies because everyone will look the same anyway.