Consuming

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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23 thoughts on “Consuming

    1. Teri Post author

      I even left out one of my favorite “rules”: If your brows have become white or gray, they are less apparent—and this can throw off the proportions of your face.

      Oh say it ain’t so!

  1. Lizzie

    Funny, I had the same epiphany about women’s magazines and stopped reading them, even the fitness ones, because they did nothing positive for me or my self-image

  2. donnaeve

    I stopped reading all magazines except Writer’s Digest, Poets & Writers and…I still get Runner’s World too, but hardly ever open it up. I just hand it off to my son. Love your translation of the “New Beauty Rules.

    “Rules.” Yep. That’ll make me read it pronto, soon as I’m able to peel myself off the ceiling.

  3. Grief Happens

    UGH! I quit all women’s magazines years ago while I was in treatment for an eating disorder. Recently I bought a few that I thought were safe from a friend’s daughter. I didn’t think much of it but since receiving them, I’m appalled at the horribly unhealthy messages women are ingesting regularly.

    And I’ve had it up to here with the word “Rules.”

    1. Teri Post author

      I wonder if men’s magazines have rules. I’m guessing not, but I’ll have to do some reconnaissance to find out!

  4. Joe Ponepinto

    Wait one more year, Teri, and then you can start receiving AARP Magazine, which is basically More and all those other ridiculous mags for the senior set. They send it whether you want it or not, so I look at the cover, laugh, and chuck it. The vapidity of our mainstream culture never fails to amuse.

    1. Teri Post author

      This is especially funny because my husband receives said magazines and we toss them like a disease that has arrived (and freaked us out) in our mailbox.

  5. lisahgolden

    I just said some very dirty words and then forbade my 15 year old daughter to consume any of this bullshit that’s being provided as “expert advice.”

    Useless, I now, but it made me feel a tiny bit better that I tried.

    1. Teri Post author

      My husband saw “the list” for thanking the boyfriend and couldn’t believe it was real.

      Oh. Yes. It’s real.

  6. joplingirl

    I bought that same magazine in the Phoenix airport last Tuesday. On the way home and out of sorts. Also just finished Roxane’s provocative essays. A reminder—whatever age–integrity never goes out of style.

    1. Teri Post author

      I’m reading the essays again. BAD FEMINIST was my book club pick so there will be 12 50-something white women discussing it in a week or so. I kinda want to film it.

      1. joplingirl

        So funny. And congratulations on your wonderful essay in Manifestation. I’m going to Jenn and Lidia’s writing and the body workshop in Ojai the end of the year. Really looking forward to it. Wish you were coming too.

  7. independentclause

    I used to see those magazines in my therapist’s office. When I’d go in for an appointment, she’d start with “How are you doing?” And sometimes I’d respond, “Pretty good. Or I was until I read the women’s magazines in your waiting room.”

  8. amyg

    hi, my name is amy, and I am an magazine-holic.

    oprah, town & country, real simple, vanity fair. GARDEN & GUN (i gush just thinking of the G&G pics), vogue, more. i know. i should be more enlightened. but the feel of a glossy magazine, the heft a september vogue…it’s also so…enticing to me. i still can’t resist.

    1. Teri Post author

      It’s a good thing, AmyG. Somebody has to keep them all in business!!

      But how about that “thank your boyfriend” list? The first time I saw it, I thought it was a joke. Alas, sadly, no.

      1. amyg

        I know, I know – it’s awful. but, i can’t help imagining some freelance writer or low level, young editor trying to get a byline, pitching this list. the fact is lists & headlines w/ numbers are easy enticers – readers are more likely to move their eyes (either in a supermarket check-out line, or social media newsfeed) to headlines like “Top 10 [insert whatever here…rules, reasons, sexual positions]” As far as the content, it just makes me hope someone is pitching a “Reasons your boyfriend should be thanking you” list – which isn’t necessarily a wide-open improvement, but at least a turn in the opposite direction. of course, all this being said, what burns my ass and what doesn’t all depends on the day/hour/mood i read it. Other possible pitches:
        Reasons To Be Happy You Don’t Have a Boyfriend
        Reasons to thank yourself
        Reasons to stop obsessing about your boyfriend (or, …having one)

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