This post started in my head as a rant about the expectation that cancer patients be good role models to other cancer patients, or people with “lesser struggles”. You know, that inspiration-porn thing in which a disabled or ill person does something inspiring like run a race or whatever, so a slogan of the what’s-your-excuse type can be attached to it. As the rant churned around in my head it morphed into my usual kicking against all the little boxes cancer patients are put into: if not a role model, how about rebel? Except I don’t wanna be a rebel–rebels need rules as much as the role-model good cancer citizens do! I just wanna be! Why can’t I just be?! Why there gotta be so many rules to follow and boxes to occupy in this effen CancerLand?
I know what you’re thinking: you see a picture of Joan Lunden in a post and think this is another celeb-with-cancer bashing piece. Not exactly. I’m certainly no fan of Lunden or any of these celebs sharing their “inspirational stories”–and in my opinion Lunden IS one of the worst of them. But this picture is only partly her fault. Let me explain.
You see, this is an ad for People magazine. That issue of the magazine, that cover, is old. Yet the ad containing the cover picture, with the little items around the magazine cover, yeah, it’s new. I tore it out of my most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly. I’ve been seeing the ad in a few other magazines this weekend–I was, um, sifting through a huge backlog of magazines to clear some out. Yes, I still read actual magazines, sometimes for recipes (glossy, colorful pictures motivate me better). And man, I’ve been behind in reading-‘n’-recipe-reviewing, so this weekend was all about reducing my backlog!
OK defensive digression over.
So in short, I saw this ad a few times and as I reached the last magazine in my pile I yanked out this page and took a good long look at it. As I did so, I understood why it turned my stomach more than the usual celebs-with-cancer stuff I see. Have you seen this ad? Have you really looked at it, thought about it? (I kinda hope you have seen this ad, since I am no picture/computer wiz–and this scanned copy of the ad is not very clear and probably too small, but if you click it, it should get bigger.)