photoAbout a decade ago, I stopped reading — flipping through? mindlessly thumbing? — women’s magazines.

I tossed them on the coffee table in the always-growing slippery pile, with a blasé sigh.  The magazines did not make me want to buy pretty shoes and do a better job with my eyeliner; the magazines seemed a waste of my money and of my time (the 15 yr old girls, the makeup, the advice, the endless designer bags and belts and skirts and shoes) that just made me feel, well, bad.

Like I wasn’t doing anything enough or right enough.

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I do, however, get to wondering what the young girls are reading these days and that’s how I discovered this lovely article.  My niece is a freshman in college, and here’s what she listed as a must-read:  48 Things You Should Probably Thank Your Boyfriend For.  Among the gems on this list:

Telling you you’re pretty when you tell him to tell you you’re pretty.

And not giving a shit when you say you don’t feel like being touched.

Because he pays for you, whether that happens often or infrequently.  And because he’s beyond appreciative when you make a big deal and pay for him.

For being nice when your legs aren’t perfectly shaved all of the time. And acknowledging how soft they are when you actually take the time to prune and moisturize.

For having sex with you literally whenever or wherever you want.

For letting you pick which show to watch.

For calling you skinny.

And acting like you’re not insane when you say he’s being “too friendly.”

Opening jars when you’re “just far too weak.”

I recently read Roxane Gay’s essay collection, BAD FEMINIST which opens with:  “The cultural climate is shifting, particularly for women as we contend with the retrenchment of reproductive freedom, the persistence of rape culture, and the flawed if not damaging representations of women we’re consuming in music, movies, and literature.”  Reading the 48 Things above (with my head exploding) I kept thinking of one word in Roxane’s opening sentence: consuming.  The shiny women’s magazines we consume are a blip compared with lists like this.  And, if we are shifting, how very small the shift.

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Even at 49, I am not immune.  Last weekend while stuck at the Phoenix airport — right after a man kept questioning me about being a woman traveling alone with golf clubs and how unusual that was  I broke my own rule and bought More magazine.  $4.99 and 20 minutes of page-flipping.  I did, however, spend some valuable minutes on the main article: “New Beauty Rules at 30, 40, 50 & 60.”

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In Your 30s:  Perfect your application of concealer now and you’ll reap disguise benefits for the rest of your life.

(Translate:  Disguise will benefit you for the rest of your life.)

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In your 40s  (hey, woo hoo!, that’s still me for one year!):  Your skin seems drier or more sensitive, your hair is thinner and less lustrous, and a dab of lipstick and a swipe of mascara don’t do the face-brightening trick they once did.  Your new makeup mantra? Lighten up.

(Translate:  Lighten the fuck up.)

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In Your 50s:  Get your body back (above the neck).

(Translate: Because everything below the neck is a lost cause?)

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In Your 60s:  It’s wise to stay away from black [eyeliner], since the contrast makes too strong a statement.

(Translate:  Well now, you certainly wouldn’t want to make too strong a statement.)

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