For this assignment, I interviewed my mom. Some background, Laura was born in Seattle in 1953 and both my grammy and grandpa were fairly reasonable when it came to television growing up. They emphasized reading and allowed their children to watch television if all other commitments were done. Her first recollection of media was the Flintstones. Similar the “Hannah Montana” article that states (referring to postwar families), “much media use was family centered”, my Mom and her two siblings would take naps during they day as little children so that they could watch the 8 o’clock showing of the Flintstones together. This, she says, was something that the family waited for all week.
Along with the Flinstones, my mom also spoke to her love of the Nancy Drew series as a young child. Like many of the other women mentioned in the “Hannah Montana” article, my mom found herself happily lost in the mystery and adventure of the novels. Although she says her passion for reading these books was due to the excitement she felt with each of Nancy Drew’s new adventures, she admits that unconsciously these tales could have been an escape from the masculine focus of the media at this time. Nancy gave her an example of a woman who was courageous and someone we might describe as the “aggressive female”. Nancy’s persona was a model of a girl with depth and a purpose, who didn’t take the back seat to man’s decisions. I don’t think her life’s focus was to be Nancy Drew but my mom is certainly under our category of this aggressive female.
“As I got older,” my mom claims, ” my favorite shows were ‘I love Lucy’ and ‘Marcus Welby, MD’.” Most of her time was not spent watching television during her teen years. Rather, the predominate media focus for her during this time was in music and magazines. She recalls loving the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Monkeys. She recalls having a having a huge crush on Davy Jones (one of the Monkeys) and laughed and agreed with the women in the “Hannah Montana” article who claimed that stars (like Jones) reminded them that their boyfriends weren’t that attractive. She also added, that “in a somewhat ironic twist, I wound up selling him (Davey Jones) and his wife Linda, a home in Santa Barbara in 1981. He was nowhere near as handsome as I’d remembered him and he was 3 inches shorter than me – didn’t look like it on TV”.
This made me smile because I have always been upset about how girls obsess over actors like Tom Cruise who are 5’5″ and are not the men they are made out to be in the movies they star in (Top Gun is still top 5 favorites).
In terms of magazines my Mom points to two that had the most profound impact, Seventeen and Golf Digest. She also mentioned reading Time as a way of keeping up with the news. Seventeen, from the interview, seemed like it had the biggest impact on her life. She recalls one account that highlights the impact of Seventeen:
If I saw an outfit or “look” that I liked in Seventeen, I would save money for it or try to replicate the look. In fact, in the early 1970’s the “shag” haircut was in and featured over and over again in Seventeen. I was so eager to “get the look”, that I impulsively went to a terrible stylist (really just a very bad haircutter) while we were on vacation in Arizona. It wasn’t the look I was going for and didn’t even sort of resemble the look in the magazine. One of my Mom’s friends who was always known for speaking her mind was overheard (by me) to say, “why would that pretty girl ever have wanted such a bad cut”.
I was surprised at the longevity of Seventeen and its impact on teenage girls because I recall many girls in middle school reading trying out new looks that they had most likely drawn from Seventeen specifically.
Like Drew, Another Nancy had a big impact on my Mom’s early years. Nancy Lopez was a great golfer and my mom claims that her “aggressive golf style and demeanor” influenced her in many ways.
Upon receiving her monthly issue of Golf Digest, she would eagerly flip through the pages in search on news on the golfer. My family has always been into golf and my mom takes a lot of pride in how much she practices and the time that she puts into the sport and her golf club. It is interesting to see my mom have golf heroes so far back because I do not think of this as an era where women sports figures were prominent.
Overall, I think my mom would agree with the statement from “Tori”: “We didn’t have any Hannah Montanas. We weren’t as clothes-conscious as they are today.Which in my mind is a good thing. We stayed young. We stayed teenagers instead of growing up before our years”.
Aside from her Seventeen incident with the “shag”, my mom’s interaction with the media was not a primary source of inspiration on how to be. Instead of tuning into the media concerned with portraying the female as the model of femininity, my mom used media to find heroes like her two Nancy’s that showed her the depth and potential of women.