Ever since I was a teenager I’ve had a love affair with magazines. I love the slick, glossy pages, the smell of the ink and the perfume samples, and the joy of crawling into bed with the newest issues and losing myself in the dreams of wearing those clothes, or visiting those locales. But today I’ve decided to give that up. I’m saying farewell to my magazines.
I still remember the day I read my first issue of Seventeen. It was 1975 and I was in 7th grade. This was the same year I discovered Led Zeppelin. It was a banner year for me, for sure! The issue of the magazine was in the school library, and I picked it up because of the outfit the girl on the cover was wearing. Back then Seventeen was a large magazine. Instead of the 8 x 11 issues we see today, it was a nice big 11 x 17. When you bought it you knew you were getting something good. I remember I sat at the table in the library and was utterly captivated by the clothes these girls in the magazine wore, the way their hair flowed down their backs, the way they applied the blush to their cheeks. After that day I always made sure I had 75 cents each month to buy the new issue.
These days I still buy fashion magazines. I subscribe to three, along with Southern Living because, well, I’m Southern. But I’ve noticed something lately when I read them. Instead of the joy I used to feel, now I get irritated. I mean, seriously annoyed, y’all. It’s not because I compare myself to those models or anything. I never did that. After all, I had unruly, impossible hair, huge glasses, and I was taller than every other girl my age in the known universe. I wasn’t ever going to look like those magazine models and so what? I just took the ideas from their clothes and makeup and tried to make them my own on my limited (read: non-existent) budget. No, it’s not comparisons to airbrushed and now Photoshopped pictures that irritate me. It’s the attitude of the magazines themselves that send my blood pressure rocketing. Take the issue of one I read last night for example.
It’s one of those yearly “Women In Power” issues that all the women’s magazines now seem to have. From the editorial to the back of the magazine, it simultaneously celebrates the women they think are powerful and bemoans the fact that women don’t exclusively rule the world. It’s page after page of cheering, bitching and moaning; cheering, bitching and moaning. But here’s what really annoys me. In between all these articles about “empowered” women are things that marginalize women. Here’s an ad for a designer handbag, but the model holding that bag is nude. Really? I just can’t see any of these “powerful” women marching into work in their birthday suits with their purse held strategically across their crotch. Oh, look—here’s another nude woman, this one selling perfume. Yeah, way to empower women by using the titillation of their naked bodies to sell stuff.
Also in this issue is an interview with an actress. I’ve never been a huge fan of this chick, but I was bored so I read it. The interviewer brought up a statistic that was quoted earlier in the magazine regarding salaries in Hollywood, and asked if the actress thought women in Hollywood “have it bad.” This actress fired back that she thought women in impoverished nations have it bad. She pointed out that having to carry 25 buckets of polluted water from a river to cook with was bad, that genital mutilation was bad, and the fact that the highest paid actress in Hollywood last year only made $20 million per film compared to the highest paid actor’s $80 million wasn’t even in the realm of “having it bad.” I sat up and was cheering this woman on until she stopped and apologized for what she’d just said. She thought it was too harsh. Are you kidding me? And even if she did apologize, why did the magazine feel the need to point it out? It completely took away the power of what she’d said.
I won’t even go into the one-sided politics in these magazines, the navel-gazing pieces written by whiny people wondering why their high-six-figure incomes aren’t satisfying anything “deep” within them, the book reviews of the latest memoirs (more navel-gazing), and celebratory pieces of the latest music that refers to women as whores or trophies, take your pick. Seriously, if I tore out all the pages of these magazines that I find stupid I’d be left with about 20-25 pages of stuff that interests me.
Even Southern Living is letting me down. Now its pages are filled with throw pillows that cost $295, wildflowers in a glass vase that costs $85, bracelets for $1,295 and food it would take a week and Ina Garten assisting to prepare properly (and no Southerner would eat it anyway. Sage and lemon aioli grits, anyone?) Even my first love, Seventeen, has changed (though I’ve not read an issue in decades.)
So I’m done with my magazines. I’m going to let the subscriptions lapse and won’t pick up any from the newsstand. If I want to know what clothing looks to try to copy I’ll log onto Net-A-Porter or Polyvore before I go peruse the clearance racks at Cato and Belk for something similar. For makeup looks and research I’ll stick with Angie at Hot & Flashy on YouTube.
I thought it would be a hard decision to let go of my monthly addiction to slick, glossy paper, but it’s not. Instead, I feel like I’m ending an abusive relationship. And with the money I save by not buying magazines I can buy more pairs of boots! All the better to kick irritating crap to the curb. 🙂
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