I Have A Problem With Fantasy

Millennial Mom on the cover of Vogue magazine.
I Have a Problem with Fantasy, 2017, oil on canvas, 121.9 x 91.4 cm, 48 x 36 in

This is I Have a Problem With Fantasy”, one of my favourite paintings, and the title piece in the MM series. I’ve been working on it for a few months now, as the text is very precise and time-consuming, but worth the effort, I think.

I have loved VOGUE magazine for a long time. It has been my book of dreams, full of all the beauty, culture, and sophistication I have always felt drawn to. But, I have had problems keeping this dream-world in perspective. My fantasies about living that glamorous life morphed into wanting that life for real. I’ve had trouble accepting the reality of my middle-class life, as you can see in many of my works — the manual household labour, the not-being-able-to-do-the-fun-things-everyone-else-seems-to-be-doing due to budget constraints, the dreaded minivan, relationship struggles. I soooo wanted to be a VOGUE woman, one who travels the world, lives in style, goes to the best museums, theatre, and restaurants, and most importantly, one whom everyone loves. I wanted extraordinary and I thought I should be able to have it. And when I had to face reality, it was ugly. Disappointment, anger, blame.

I know what you are thinking: how could anyone be so naive, so misguided, so shallow, so entitled, so ungrateful, and who does she think she is? It’s okay, no judgement you lay on me will be one I haven’t heard already, from myself. I know it’s bad, it’s ugly, but… it’s true. So true that it hurts to write this. But it’s a story worth sharing, because I’ve heard it before. I know I’m not the only one.

This painting looks at disillusionment as one first realizes things are not going to be what one thought. Later in the series, I will address what happens next. As for me, things are better now. I’ve learned that my fantasies of a glamorous life were my attempt to numb out feelings of unworthiness. As misguided as I was, I really thought that if I lived that life, I would finally feel good enough. The real problem was that in my attempt to “fix” my shame, I also numbed my joy, love and gratitude for who I really am, and the many blessings in my life.

I don’t blame VOGUE. I still see it as a bright light offering beauty to the world, a beauty that lifts spirits. The danger is only in how that light is received. How wonderful it is, that I can turn those pages and see all the creativity and beauty and amazing things going on in the world!  I am grateful for the existence of such things, without needing to possess them myself. I love so much about my domestic, quiet, small-town life, as is (okay, sometimes I still want more). And I accept I will never be a VOGUE woman, but I love myself as I am, flaws and all. And that is, in essence, the story of  Millennial Mom.


One Comment

  1. Doreen Pippy

    I love this Darlene! Thank you for sharing your your paintings and the story behind them, you are so talented. And I think every woman will relate to Millennial Mom in one way or in many!


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