My college (and early work life) ex who remains a good friend once used to find it funny and amusing that I wanted to be a journalist...but only for happy news. We used to joke that, in the event I became a broadcaster, my segment would start like this:
"And now, for the good news..."
Little did I know then that I would eventually work as a beauty editor—a job which was as close as I could get to being a bearer of sparkly-happy updates. What better way can one be positively entertained and willingly distracted than by perusing beautiful baubles of perfume bottles or marvelous palettes of face paint?
While working in a magazine was stressful especially during tight, back-to-back deadlines—and when it comes to the nitty-gritty, an editor’s life isn’t as 100% glamorous as it seems (fashion editors are expert plantsadoras behind the scenes)—it was a unique career path. For many years, I had a hard time explaining what exactly I did because it was a bit challenging to discuss the minute details of what goes on behind the pages, and not to mention incredibly boring once you get past the sparkle (we got used to disappointed interns).
But overall, I did get what I wanted: I had a HAPPY job. I reckoned, my way of being charitable, helping people, and contributing to the common good was by providing readers with a beautiful, glossy escape. I did tackle (and still do) some not so peppy subjects in my beauty pages and articles like "Breakup Makeup" or "How to Look Pretty After You've Cried Your Eyes Out."
On a drive back from out of town with my cousin-in-law, a neurosurgeon, he and I talked about our work. My memory of the whole conversation is hazy, but I most probably regaled him with stories about how I lugged shampoo bottles to and from shoots, interviewed dermatologists, decoded complicated ‘breakthrough’ ingredients of new skincare products, etc.
But what I do remember is this: at some point, he said, "I understand now that what you do isn't necessarily 'less' than what a doctor or engineer does. Same goes for janitors and other blue collar employees. Each one has to do their job, because all these jobs contribute to the whole of society.”
Not verbatim, but in essence: “When one does a good job, it propels everyone forward.”
Mariel Chua is the former beauty editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine Philippines. Visit her personal blog at http://nyminutenow.com.