Thursday, October 18, 2012

Magazines for ladies- they make me feel weird. And yet…

The other day after work, I stopped at the drug store to buy birthday cards for my mom and sisters.  While I was there I picked up a 75% off three-ring binder (.99 cents! I love October) to help myself organize my novel revisions and because it is physically hard for me to resist school supplies.  At the last second I grabbed the latest issue of Marie Claire because Gwen Stefani is on the cover looking fierce, and I figured it was an excuse to indulge myself in some ladies fashion magazine reading.

After spending a good hour or so reading the magazine when I got home, I decided to try and document the crazy roller coaster ride my brain went on while peeking in to the life of a Marie Claire reader, because text messages to my friend just weren't cutting it. (Her power day this month is the 28th btw. Mine was the 15th.) 

So grab some sort of women's study college staple from your bookshelf for good measure-Gertrude Stein perhaps?  And let's ride some fourth-wave feminism together. 

Side note: I found myself reacting to the experience of reading this magazine both emotionally and then analytically, usually as an assessment of my emotional reaction. All impulse response is in italics.  Thank you for putting up with my crazy.

Once I'm appropriately comfortable on my couch and pajama-clad (I feel like "pajama-clad" is an adjective a Marie Claire writer would use) I decide I'm going to read this magazine right.  No skipping to the impossible-to-find-when-you're-looking-for-it Gwen Stefani article, I'm starting on the metaphorical page one (page 16) and reading the "Marie Claire To-Do List." 

Wow a Katharine Hepburn coffee table book entitled Rebel Chic, and an HBO documentary about the Kennedy dynasty entitled Ethel, after RFK's wife? I'm intrigued! I wish I could dress like Katharine Hepburn every day.  And Ethel Kennedy is beautiful! Remember to wikipedia her later.

Skim the contents…Your Secret Beauty Life, Total Body Makeover, blah blah blah.  Huh, a photograph of a 21 year old jewelry factory worker in China.  Her image is striking and I'm surprised to see that the caption is about a jewelry factory worker and not a jewelry designer.  I also read the headline "Till Death Do Us Part: How A Smart Girl Fell in Love with A Guy on Death Row." This might be more than a silly fashion magazine! Smart girls! Yay! Did you see that Gertrude?  

Next is the letter from the editor Joanna Coles- still reading chronologically.  Resisting the urge to flip, my willpower is on fire!  Coles mentions two articles that sound promising.  One about how Ambien should probably be illegal, and the other about a woman who was raised in a storage space by crazy people.  She references The Glass Castle which I just finished! Synchronicity.

Maybe I should subscribe to Marie Claire! This is so much more fun than reading the internet! I should subscribe to like 20 magazines.  Maybe I should quit the internet.

Moving on, I meticulously read the contributors bios.  Could I be a Marie Claire contributor?

One page dedicated to analyzing Gwen Stefani's style from 1995 to present. Carefully read and study.

Breezing through the ads I stop and open a "Flower Bomb" perfume pocket by Viktor & Rolf and seriously consider going online to buy it.  I haven't bought myself a new perfume in ages! I need to update my scent!  $75 for an ounce? But it lasts forever! Why they list prices in perfume ads?

Page 65 and just reached the magazine masthead.  Magazines are weird.  Keep flipping. Wait, is this an ad or an article?  Open another perfume ad "Poppy Blossom" by coach. I think I need two new signature scents now.  This one is $65 an ounce.

I'm going to skip over a big chunk of me thinking I love Marie Claire! while feeling weird about my beauty routine and overall appearance, mainly thanks to the ads which I'm trying to ignore. I firmly believe that eye cream is a rip off! Don't I?

I stop on the "What I Love About Me" page where they asked women on the streets of Chicago to share what makes them "so uniquely gorgeous." Oh! Positive body image stuff! Oh. Wait.  Most of them are talking about how they dress or makeup.  What does purple eye shadow have to do with loving yourself?

Oh good, a Chinese ballerina.  I stop at the piece profiling 15 different Chinese women from "multimillionaires to rice farmers."  These images are dramatic.  How cool are these little profiles? I love that they're profiling manual laborers and a lesbian couple. I'm not sure if it's necessary to have two different kinds of sex workers profiled (a sex worker and a high class mistress) is a piece about 15 women, but both stories are interesting, so I guess it's okay.  China is fascinating!

Next is the living in a storage space memoir piece, "Out of the Box," which I want to read, but not yet.   I skip it, and skip the Ambien article and skip the death row love story article- ooh it's about Damien Echols from the West Memphis Three!  I saw that Paradise Lost documentary!  Finally Gwennie on page 209.  Thank God, I finally found you!

Awww she's so cute! And she's talking about how being a mom and wife is really challenging but so worth it.  She's like a real person and an angel rolled into one! What?! This article is only 2 pages?!?! WTF!

Generously skip a bunch of pages and then stop at the article called "Portion Control" about how the only way to keep your body in shape as you get older is to eat way less. Minor panic attack ensues.  

At least I'm only 30! But I just had pizza for dinner and I never established an exercise routine in my 20s! I'm doomed.  Oh this woman in her 40s only eats one meal a day...I guess I could do that...What?!? You're going crazy! You love food! Who cares if you don't look like Gwen Stefani! You are still awesome and have an amazing life! Yeah, Marie Claire! Sheesh!  This article is aging me worse than that pizza that I just ate for dinner. Okay, I'm definitely not subscribing to this magazine.  I feel weird.

Before putting it down all together, I flip back to an article that I missed called "Total Body Make Over- Your Anti-ageing Guide to Keeping Up Appearances From Your Teeth to Your Toes." Maybe there will be something good in this article.  I go straight to the "Tummy/Tush/Thighs section, of course.  

Wait a minute… the only advice is plastic surgery.  A tummy tuck is only $5,300? Maybe I could get that some day if I needed it.  Wait, I hate plastic surgery and am against women using it to "anti-age."  Hold on, every tip in this article is to get plastic surgery!!!

I take one more delicious sniff of those glossy pages and throw it aside.  Am I sweating? Is my heart beating faster? Something feels out of whack.

I'll probably read those three articles I skipped on the subway in the morning and the 30 something woman on her way to work sitting next to me, the one who forgot her copy of The New Yorker or her Kindle, will be looking over my shoulder, and reading right along with me. I just know it.


  1. Such a waste of time-not your blog entry, but these fashion magazines as a whole. They recycle the same old stuff every year.

  2. "She's like a real person and an angel rolled into one!" That's my new favorite description of Gwen Stefani.

  3. I read this earlier today and it got my day started off right! - Thanks for the unique and fun post.

    - tianna :)

  4. I have a love-hate relationship with women's magazines, too. Sometimes nothing can beat curling up with a magazine, but sometimes I flip through them thinking, "Trash, trash, trash..." My current favourites are Red and Psychologies (the UK editions), both of which are pretty intelligent and assume that their readers are, too.

  5. YES. Magazines make me want lots of things I don't need. Including a new and different body and lifestyle. I can't really deal with them.

  6. You are such a great writer. Your take on reading through Marie Claire made me smile but also makes me realize how much people are not aware of while they're reading magazines like this...

    1. Aww thanks Nancy! Your comment made my day! Xo

  7. I just went through a whole pile of old magazines before putting them in the yard-sale box, and was amazed how little relevant content was in them. The worst bit was re-reading an article on how much better it is for your body and weight management to eat when you're hungry and not deny yourself little foody pleasures and then turning the page to find an ad for a diet pill. Double standards, much?!

  8. Well Sarah I have become addicted to those glossy women's fashion magazines as I crave for the aroma and feel of those sweet scented gorgeous pages.

  9. Well Sarah I have become addicted to those glossy women's fashion magazines as I crave for the aroma and feel of those sweet scented gorgeous pages.