Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why I ditched the "lady mags"

I was noticing this weekend the lack of “lady mags” in my house. Since I got my first Tiger Beat, I’ve been an obsessive devotee of glossy magazines. My childhood bedroom used to be littered with them. Oh, how I loved that really thick September issue of Seventeen! As I grew older, I began reading titles like Glamour and Mademoiselle (RIP). And I spent years and years devouring every women’s title on the rack. Literally. I often would stop by a corner newsstand mid-month and leave disappointed because I had already read nearly everything there, save the sports, car and porn titles.

Now, I look around my living room and there is just a small stack of magazines in a wicker backet—the latest issue of Bitch, some foodie pubs, Rolling Stone, Q and a few genealogy journals—all of which I subscribe to. There is an issue of Essence I bought at the drug store. And I subscribe to Nation and The Atlantic on my Kindle. Completely absent, though, are the women’s magazines like Self, Allure, Marie Claire and Vogue, which used to make up the bulk of my reading in my 20s.

What happened?

I tired of being sold to.

I know that advertising keeps magazines afloat, but many women’s magazines feel like page after page of ads with the thinnest of useful content. And too often, even that “useful content” is merely advertising in disguise. Here, according to our editors, are the five best veggie burgers… jeans… long-wearing lipsticks…
This is particularly true of fashion and beauty-centered magazines. They are relentlessly about buying something to make yourself better. Speaking of…

I don’t believe there is anything wrong with me.

This is not to say that I am perfect. I’m not. But there is a fine line between striving to better yourself and believing in your inherent “wrongness” in every given situation. Our society constantly tells women that they need to be “fixed” and women’s magazines reinforce this idea like nothing else. It’s always about how your hair could be shinier; how your diet could be better; how you’re not doing the right 10 things in bed to please your man.

Of course, this fits the consumerist nature of modern magazines. There is no money in telling people they are good enough as they are. If, for instance, I believe that my natural kinks are beautiful, I might not buy all the stuff magazine advertiser’s peddle to straighten them. But it seems to me that women’s magazines sell things in a particular way that leverages self-doubt and negative messages.

A men’s magazine like Esquire tells its readers: Dude, you’re so fucking money, you don’t even know! Hey, check out this home stereo system that will make you an even more awesome. The tone of women’s magazines is more: You’re right to wonder if those jeans make your ass look fat…cause…yeah… Good news, though. That mean lady from The Biggest Loser has a new book out. Here’s a sample diet, so you can start working on your beach body. Oh, and here are some $200 jeans guaranteed to help disguise even the fattest of asses. See--here’s a photo of a six-foot, skinny, 16-year-old model wearing them. Doesn’t her ass look great?

The older I get, the more comfortable I am in my skin and the less interested I am in being made over.


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