When an article on how a two-week stint in the mental ward resulted in nothing but better hair landed on my computer screen, I almost felt compelled to immediately write a response entry. But I wasn’t quite sure what it was that I wanted to say – did I want to tear it apart or compliment the author, Cat Marnell? It’s a mixed bag of feelings; on one hand there is the appreciation in being able to confront a “heavy” topic without focusing too much on the miserable experience itself, and on the other, there is a certain trivialization in the matter, what with a second post reinforcing the point, that focuses on the promotion of beauty products, so as to fulfill some kind of criteria for the online magazine.
Admittedly, I’ll often tell friends in a joking manner about the “interesting” bunch that I met during my ten-hour stint at the ward. And while it may seem similar in terms of tone to Marnell’s story, I find it to be completely different. From her writing, it almost seems as though that the entry encircles the product, as opposed to the product being a punchline to her story. In other words, the product is the main focus, and the “heavy” material simply supports its placement as a means of detracting from promotion and advertising.
For those that contend my point by saying that product placement can be inadvertently done, I point those readers to the entry on STREEKERS, in which Marnell discusses the product for a lengthy half of her entry. She could simply have ended at the name of the product, but instead continues on to describe to us the trend and price point – completely unnecessary if the intention was to convey to the reader a humourous story.
It’s a shame, really. The earnest and candid voice that Marnell seems to possess can be used to advocate so much more than hair products. I commend her for even considering bringing up the subject of these experiences. Subsequently, I would follow the commendation with an admonition, but in this circumstance, can I? There has been conversation sparked in the comments section, with readers recalling and expressing their own stories. But even with that goal of creating gab achieved, the features, as a whole, are a wasted opportunity – to have the chance to speak so frankly with such a strong following and engagement ready to advocate and converse, but instead opt to sideline the serious and highlight what could otherwise be deemed a “paid editorial” (even if it weren’t, it certainly feels like one).
Image courtesy of XOJane.com