A few months ago, I tried to give my mom one of my magazines so she could read an article. She abruptly declined, saying, "Why do I want to sit around reading something that makes me feel terrible about myself?" She pointed out that every magazine these days have three topics on the cover: how to organize your home better, how to lose weight, and how to improve your marriage and/or children. In other words, the message is loud and clear: "YOU ARE INADEQUATE JUST THE WAY YOU ARE."
Since that day, I am stunned that I never picked up on this sooner. Notice that men's magazines are filled with pleasurable, mindless information. Beautiful pictures of beautiful women, the newest gadgets, and bizarre factoids, fill the pages, creating an entertaining respite. On the flip side, it is impossible for women sit in a waiting room or take a bathroom break without blatantly being told how to plan their next closet clean out.
Let's start with the organization trend. The pictures of "inspiring" work areas and craft tables make Martha Stuart look like a freaking slob. I'm referring to the teeny-tiny, fabric lined containers labeled "paper clips" in calligraphy, paisley folders that read "child #1's after school permission forms", all of that nonsense. Maybe some people like doing these projects, but I like engaging in life, thank you very much. The organizers argue that you'll ultimately save time when everything has a home. Ah, the guilt of not providing my paper clips with an appropriate home. Kill me now. I have two junk drawers and a few pen holders, so it takes me about 14 seconds to locate a paper clip in my house. I have yet to lose sleep about this.
Then there's the "Lose weight! Lose inches! Lose love handles, lose fat, lose stretch marks, lose your mind eating celery!" message. In some form it's on every cover on every women's magazine. The might as well scream, "All of your bodies suck, you lazy women! Get off your lazy asses!" Never mind what men think when they see that silly business.
Finally, the "miscellaneous" category, which is always a variety of: how to save your marriage, communicate better, save more money, be eco-friendly, raise better children, etc, etc. It all echos that same message of inadequacy, or more succinctly, "there are areas of your life that need fixing, and you, lady, are responsible for fixing all of them." Crap, crap, crap. I propose that a magazine truthfully advertises their content next time. Something like, "If you want to be an insane control freak who never has a minute to herself, develops anxiety, depression, and obsessive disorders, with some eating and sex issues thrown in, pick me up and read me."
Ahhh... now that's what I want to sit down and read the next time I have a minute to myself.