I was watching the Today Show last week while getting ready for work when I caught a piece the show is doing as part of a series called “Love Your Selfie.” In the segment I caught, mannequins were being revealed after having been modeled on non-stereotypical body types: a woman in a wheelchair, a female basketball player, an amputee, a little person and a plus-size woman. Despite my hectic morning (I have a toddler, remember), I found myself drawn in.
Later that morning, I checked my email and found a message in my inbox from my Aunt Jacky (Jacalyn O’Shaughnessy) saying she was part of a piece in the “Love Your Selfie” series (she has earned international recognition as a 62-year-old American Apparel model), so I found myself watching again. To see both of these clips, click here.
I’ve been very proud of my aunt’s work to help shatter the idea that beauty has an age limit. And this Today Show piece expands that concept in all directions. It helps give us the reminder that beauty is about much more than what we look like. It’s about who we are and how we conduct ourselves in the world. But it’s about how we see ourselves, too.
I’ve always admired my aunt’s inner strength and beauty. She never let obstacles or disappointment keep her from following her dreams. And she never stopped believing that she would make her mark. So, when her big break came not at age 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 but at age 60, she was ready for it. She hadn’t given up or written herself off. Her time had come, and she embraced it.
Stories like Jacky’s inspire me. They are the types of stories that as a journalist I found the most compelling. Reporters who could capture the human spirit through such stories have a gift. I’ve had the privilege of knowing quite a few.
And when real life starts mirroring, well, real life, that’s always a happy synergy. After all, diversity is what makes life interesting, imho.
That’s one of the things I love about the types of books WMG publishes. The characters in our books are diverse—and often far from stereotypical.
We have black detectives solving crimes in the late ’60s (Smokey Dalton series), a loner woman commanding a corporation and fighting an empire in the far future (Diving series), and an elderly couple fighting for the galaxy even as their real bodies fail them (Earth Protection League series).
We have worlds with such richly developed alien cultures that sometimes it’s hard to decide what right and wrong truly are (Retrieval Artist series). And we have worlds in which poker players have superpowers and Lady Luck is not just a myth (Poker Boy series).
Then, there’s our Fiction River anthology series, where we have stories that take you from the here and now to the past and future, from American life to foreign cultures to worlds you couldn’t imagine existed before these talented authors created them for you on the page—often in the same volume.
Life is rich. It is diverse. And it should be celebrated—in fiction and in fact.
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.