Monday, January 23, 2006

An Open Letter to Publishers of Women's Magazines Everywhere

Dear Publishers of Women's Magazines,

We believe that you have lost sense of your place in the world. Your mission in life is to publish what we pseudo-literary types call "light fare," i.e., something fluffy and entertaining that we can read as we perch upon our toilets and evacuate our bowels and bladders, or sit waiting for a doctor to shoot radioactive dye through our Fallopian tubes. Anything beyond this is simply overreaching.

In other words, we, your readers, DO NOT want to read analyses, in your pages, of the controversy surrounding James Frey's A Million Little Pieces; there are other publications we turn to for this. What we want from you is articles with titles like "How To Keep Your Eye Shadow From Crumbling Into A Million Little Pieces."

Similarly, under no circumstances do we need to read an article about "Ten Places In The World Where Women Are Raped And Murdered Regularly Due To Oppressive Government Regimes" opposite an ad for Wet 'n Wild Lip Gloss. A more fitting choice of subject matter for your ilk might be, "Ten Places In The World Where Women Can Get A Good Deal on Quality Leather Handbags."

We accept your relationship advice, mostly because we adapt it to suit our own needs. We tolerate your occasional recipes, since you include excerpts from actual decent cookbooks written by chefs in addition to your own calorie-conscious suggestions involving fat-free mayonnaise and packets of Crystal Light.

We are not airheads. We do not need you to educate us. What we do need is for you to ENTERTAIN us. Lecturing us about politics is simply insulting. Even worse is assuming that we all think the same way and can't each make up our own minds, as if there were a direct neural pathway from the thought portion of the brain to the vagina. Stick to lecturing us about scrunchie usage, please.

Arabella and her sisters


Blogger Tink said...

Right on sista!

I hate how many ads are in magazines now. It seems like the first half of most are nothing but. "Quit giving me a complex or showing me products I wont wear or can't afford."

11:08 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

Marie Claire and Jane are the worst offenders on this one. I imagine that some of their reporters are channeling Maya from "Just Shoot Me," desperately trying to have a least one non-fluff piece in each issue so they can go home and sleep at night without thinking they wasted money on a journalism degree.

No one wants to read about oppressive governments when one is waiting to be shot full of contrast dye. I made a point of bringing a book with me to the HSG called Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, just so I wouldn't have to be bothered by problematic deep thought as I waited for the doctor.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

I've taken to reading the copies of Seventeen magazine lying around the doctor's office. At least I KNOW that will be entertaining.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Mrs. H, I hear you about Jane. I love the mag, its design and snarky-ness, but the serious stuff? Sticks out as half-hassed and out of place in the midst of all the pics of $250 jeans and "Make-unders."

12:47 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Oh, and another thing... placing an article on world hunger a couple pages before a layout with emaciated, coke-sniffing models is worse than tacky.

12:49 PM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

Amen, sista!

1:04 PM  
Blogger robey said...

As a highly-credentialed medical professional (chiropractor) I assure you there is a direct neural pathway from the brain's neuro-cortex to the vagina. Science has established this link as the likely reason that men continue to find the sexy, naughty librarian archetype so appealing. (See, Maxim, 4/01/2003, pp. 76-78)

2:38 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

Mmmmm. I gotta disagree with you on that, Arabella. Of course, I don't read "womens' mags" for the very reason that I can figure out the eye shadow thing on my own. Ditto for the handbags. I DO want to read a literary analysis of a book. I want to hear about politics.

Most of the mags aimed at women are incredibly superficial. Similarly, back in the day the newspaper was devoted entirely to the notion that only men could/would read about world/local news, politics, etc. One section (weddings, births, recipes, fashion) was called the Women's Section. I'm stil pissed about it.

There should be a mix of content available for female readers that provides intelligent discussion without sacrificing pop culture stories or news about toe rings. Havent' found it yet.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

That's ok, Wordgirl. We can agree to disagree. Personally, I'd rather infiltrate the spheres traditionally reserved just for men, such as the newspaper. I'm all in favor of heartier content (politics, literary criticism, etc.) written by and geared towards women, but I'd like it separate from my fashion advice, celebrity gossip, and advertising disguised as helpful makeup tips. To me, the status quo is as confusingly jumbled as a segment on geopolitical tensions in the middle of "E! News Live," or an article on Mad Cow Disease in _Country Home_ magazine.

I think that part of the problem is the very expression "women's magazines." I thought of putting it in quotes in my post, and, in retrospect, I should have. It's a given, colloquially, and likely a holdover from days of old, that "women's magazines" are primarily fashion and beauty oriented. I think that some of the reporters and editors inherently resent this and, like Mrs. Harridan suggested, try to insert token non-fluff pieces so that they can take themselves more seriously. In my opinion, if they want to be taken seriously, the answer is for them to write pieces for more "serious" publications.

Robey, do men have this issue in magazines like Maxim? More importantly, do you consider your wife to be a naughty-librarian type? ;)

Tomorrow, when I have my HSG, I plan to bring a copy of Mad Magazine with me to the waiting room.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Oh, and it's ok; I can take criticism just fine, Wordgirl. (Twitches.) I'm not worried you'll think that I'm a shallow, superficial person with a brain more like Jello than my own backside or anything. (Twitches again.) I won't cry into my husband's shoulder that you hate me when he gets home from work. (Reaches for tissues and chocolate.)


6:54 PM  
Blogger Ditsy Chick said...

We're ot supposed to form our opinions about the rest of the world and our society based upon what 'People' magazine says? *scratches head* Huh, I missed the memo for that one...what else did I miss?

1:59 AM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

No, Arabella, I am over here in No-Brain Jello land and I haven't seen you.

How about Oprah's mag? She will on one hand go on about the world's problems and then tell us that our other big problem is that we arent carrying her "new fav" $400 purse.

7:16 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

Speaking of the James Frey incident and Oprah, I'm starting to think Oprah's kind of messed up. Why is she defending him?

Mignon, I can't even read Jane anymore. It's too annoying. Jane the person is too annoying, too.

10:05 AM  
Blogger The Queen Mama said...

It's for reasons such as these that I haven't had a subscription to any women's magazines for the past several years. Although apparently, someone anonymously gifted me a subscription of "Glamour" recently.

Hello, does this person know me at all?

11:18 AM  

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