I don’t buy fashion magazines. You may well gasp. I stopped a long time ago after reading on the front cover of Cleo that I could get a man to cook me dinner if I gave him fellatio. I’ll let that speak for itself.
But let’s look at the anatomy of a magazine for a moment.
- The advertising. Impossibly expensive items characterised by impossibly airbrushed people. Either you can afford said item and you buy it, discover you don’t become that airbrushed person or you feel like you’re some part of secret club because so few people can afford said item (when really, any bogan with a credit card can get it – and do). Or you can’t afford it, and spend your life either aspiring to it and never quite feeling good about it, sending yourself broke for it and feeling like a big broke fraud, or you buy cheaper copies that just isn’t the same but make you feel like you fit into the secret club above for about ten minutes until the next piece of advertising comes along. No thanks.
- The spreads. Women with the bodies of a gay mans wet dream with vacant searching looks dressed in outfits you’re supposed to copy, and do. Every time I go shopping I see some poor girl squeezing herself into a ‘look’ that doesn’t suit her, because she wore it in a fashion magazine, and at the gentle suggestion of her boyfriend/mother/sister/best friend whines “but it’s in fashion!” She then leaves the store with items, wears it a few times before seeing a photo of herself on Facebook at which point she consigns it to her wardrobe full of other ‘in fashion’ purchases. And then cries with real desperation that she has nothing to wear. Which is half true. She has nothing to wear that she feels good in.
- The articles. I admit to buying an Australian Vogue for a free bag that made perfect carry on luggage back in January. There was a three page article about how bad it was to have a broken heart and be alone. Empowering no? The Vogue Forum essentially bans any intelligent discussion on political issues. For all their rhetoric about ‘savvy’, ‘market conscious’ women, they like their readers dumb. Dumb people buy clothes that look awful on them because they’re so desperate to fit in.
- The inevitable “What’s Hot”, “What’s Not” page. Sure to destroy any sense of personal style the reader may have.
- The inevitable ‘how to wear makeup/hair/clothes” articles. Magazines have not changed since I bought my first one as a teenager. That’s 16 years people.
- Being out of date by the time you get it. Why bother when you have style.com?
However, you can read these things without being a complete idiot right? Because you’re genuinely interested in fashion, because it’s nice to have a magazine, because you don’t buy into media messages, because you genuinely are bright. All true, and I don’t dispute anyones choice to buy them. I do however, believe that the contempt shown for the readers by the magazine is staggering.
Truth is, all that aside, there’s two reasons I don’t buy them. One is that I can’t afford anything in them, and have no desire to spend my life aspiring to them and in feeling in some way like I’m missing out because I can’t have that Gucci bag. Go to Cambodia. No electricity or clean water or access to healthcare is missing out. Not being able to have a Gucci bag is like not being able to have a Lear jet.
The second is that while I love fashion, I’m a minimalist. I don’t want to buy stuff that clutters my house. I have enough stuff. So I stick to the Vogue Forum, to stylebakery, to The Sartorialist, Faux Fuchsia, NetaPorter (eyecandy), and so on. I don’t need to be told what to do or wear by some puppet of an advertising company.
*I will occasionally make an exception for a magazine that just photographs the clothes and doesn’t construct a fantasy world. Personal style comes from life lived and experienced, and fashion history has never been made by followers of fashion.