Cardboard Cutouts

Jon Favreau, director of Speech writing for the White House, posed with this cardboard cutout of Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton at a party.  Aside from his misunderstanding of basic anatomy, (he’s not quite on target as her breast is lower and a titch that way), he needs to learn a little respect.  Perhaps we all need to learn a little more respect.

I’m not a fan-girl.  There is no actor, artist, or public figure that I follow with avid obsession.  Except for a brief admiration of Brad Pitt in my teen years, I can’t think of anyone that I squee at the thought of.  I can’t even enjoy the Red Carpet coverage at the major award shows.  Popular gossip columns are an uncomfortable read.  The media’s portrayal of celebrities as one-dimensional cardboard cutouts is a growing trend as our access to the news broadens.  I don’t want to see pictures of Brittany’s breakdown.  John Travolta and Kelly Preston should be able to mourn the loss of their son in privacy.  Apparently, LiLo has rekindled her romance with Sam Ronson.  What’s your opinion?  Take the poll at OMG!

It’s hard enough to navigate love, loss, and pressures without the arena of celebrity where daily choices and struggles are reduced to the most basic of explanations.  Simple cardboard cutouts for the world to pick apart.

Even as an average citizen, we are not immune from this over-simplification.  Facebook, twitter, and other forms of social media with our pictures and snippets fo thought, give us a one-dimensional personality.  We’ve turned ourselves into cardboard cutouts, withholding from the world the depths of what we are.  On my Facebook, I try to keep a happy face with a sunny personality and perky personality.  To put it simple, I like to make people smile.

It has been my downfall in several instances.

By leaving out all sides of my personality – the dark days of depression, the angry rages, the self-pitying – I’ve become a cardboard cutout of the sunny blond girl next door who has no real feelings.  While most of my friends know better, and those who don’t really don’t give it much thought, there are some who have filled in the gaps with projections.  Because they had their own gaps to fill. 

It was as if I advertised: “Single young woman in need of romance”. 

Not strong, independent woman happy with life, despite some recent setbacks,  who doesn’t like being put on the spot. 

“Single woman in need of saving.”

No mention that I’ve been horrified at needing help.  It offends my basic nature.

“Single woman…be gentle.”

Obviously, I can’t handle the truth because I’m weak and might not be able to pick myself off the ground if you tell me the truth.  The truth?  You can’t handle the truth.

The truth is that we, as humans, are complex creatures. I like how Jason Mraz is able to illustrate this in his song, “Beautiful Mess”.

Nothing is as simple as it seems, much less human beings and our endless stream of contradictions.  We want love but don’t want to give up our freedom.  We demand honesty, but don’t always give it. We’re constantly dancing and changing to try to find our way in the waltz.  But our steps always seem somehow off.  Not just ourselves, but the people around us.  They have the same struggles.  As easy as it is to listen to a person, collect their data, and store it as basic facts, it’s not a fair assumption of who they are. 

I had a boyfriend once who gathered the fact that I liked Milky Way chocolate bars.  He bought them for me three times a week.  When I didn’t eat them quickly, because I liked them, he was hurt and upset.

We are not one-dimensional, cardboard cutouts.  And neither are our characters.  They have contradictions themselves.  Sometimes, they do things that contradict with everything they believe. That’s what make them real.

I’ll continue being Ms. Sunshine on Facebook because I am happy and I like making other people happy.  For those that read more into it, that’s going to have to be their problem.  I won’t change who I am for them.

And now, I’m going to eat chocolate chip cookie dough.  Even though I don’t like sweets. Though I did decide not to be blond anymore.  I reserve the right to change who I am at any given time.  That’s the wonder of being human.


About author A. Lynn

A. Lynn has enjoyed the craft of writing since she finished the songs in Barry Manilow's songs as a five year old, prancing around her grandparents rural farm. Her style has changed as she's grown up. In the past ten years, she's experimented until finding her style and voice. Now, she's ready to take an effort to share her stories with the world. View all posts by author A. Lynn

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