January 19, 2012

Falling into the glossy marketing trap

“No! Those are Mommy’s, honey. Don’t look at those.”

Anna was poking through the magazines piled up next to my desk. From my reaction, you’d imagine she’d found some trashy porn (as opposed to the classy kind). Instead, she’d gotten her hands on the latest copy of SELF magazine.

I have a little, teensy weensy problem. I’m a magazine addict. I love them, I buy them off the rack all the time, everything from health to cooking and home. It’s totally unintentional when I pick them up, I often don’t realize I've done it until I get that little rush at the checkout when they put it in the special bag away from the raw chicken. So considerate.

I don't have any subscriptions, either, except for SELF since it automatically renews annually before I can intervene. I couldn't begin to tell you how long that's been going on, just enough time to make me feel like it's not my fault. A subscription would be admitting I NEED the fix. Of course, that also means I end up paying at least twice as much for each issue.

The worst part, or the second to worst part, is that each and every one of them is a near exact duplicate to the previous issue and the one before that and the one from the same time last year. Aside from the essays and articles, there’s not a new thought among the lot. I do read the essays, of course, but guess what? Nearly all of them are available online.

The actual worst part is the reason I lunged forward to pull that magazine from Anna’s hands. The cover model was wearing a tight midriff shirt and shorts. All the headlines were about weight loss, getting skinny to be sexy, how to firm up those flabby arms, finally lose that belly in 2 weeks. Exactly all the messages we’re constantly trying to keep my girls from focusing on. But hey, if mommy’s buying into it, why shouldn’t they?

It’s not just the mixed messaging, though. There are the stacks of cooking magazines (most of which have weight loss headlines, too). I don’t like to cook, as I’ve mentioned before. I make a mean muffin and a pretty good quiche and in general get some sort of dinner on the table most nights. But it’s not my thing. So why all the bazillion recipes? Am I trying to inspire myself or just make Kurt think there’s hope? It makes no sense. In the past year I have used maybe three of the recipes. THREE.

After the incident with Anna, I had a burst of motivation and gathered up all the magazines in the house. The stack was considerable. After adding up the cover prices, I came to a fairly staggering figure (I’m not gonna say except that it did, in fact, cross into the 3-digit arena). I then flipped through briefly, intending to pull out any recipes or workout cards or articles that caught my eye. Guess what? Nothing did, not a single flippin’ paragraph.

Into a bag they went and off to the library donation center. Buh-bye. If I don’t want my daughter reading all that hype, why should I ingest it myself? As for the cooking ones well... nothing was getting ingested there anyway. There are better ways to spend my time, better examples to set for my daughters and definitely better places to put my money. I suppose it’ll be a hard habit to break, turning away from all those mind-numbingly shiny covers promising miracles and solutions within their pages, but in the interest of living intentionally, I’m gonna give it my best effort.

What magazines do you read? Is it worth it?


Robin said...

Oh it's so hard to resist....Borders/B&N and other small places with wonderful Magazine selections...it's like a candy store! And yet....and yet....I never have time to read them all...and they're *heavy* and I continue to lug them around the world with me..."I'll have time to read them soon!" Soon!

grandmem said...

I subscribe to Archaeology and Biblical Archaeology Review and enjoy reading them cover to cover, but am usually three to six months behind. They are great for long plane trips. I also do either Smithsonian or National Geographic - but never subscribe to both at once. Yep, you guessed it, I have no idea in the world what your blog is talking about. Sorry.