On setting yourself free.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The inevitable “What’s Hot”, “What’s Not” page.  Sure to destroy any sense of personal style the reader may have.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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6 comments

  1. I find it ironic that you bring up the whole ‘there are people suffering in the third world’ vs the luxury bag. How do you read Faux Fuschia’s blog without thinking ‘that outfit could have provided clean water for a whole village’?

    I can’t afford luxury bags myself but I’ve seen people say to my well-off friends that they don’t buy things that expensive because there are lots of underprivileged people in the world.

    Okay well then perhaps these people should never buy anything apart from the very basic needs. They should rent or buy a very basic residence because they should use the excess to help underprivileged people. They should get their clothes from St Vinnies and their food from Aldi. Who are these people to judge others unless they live by their philosophy in every way possible? You can’t just pick and choose which things are ok to buy that cost average basic/average and then condemn others when they choose different things.

    1. I always get that response. It’s very all-or-nothing to say either buy nothing and give everything, or buy everything and don’t feel guilty about it. I haven’t condemned anyone. I have written about why I don’t buy fashion magazines. It’s my personal ethos, I haven’t told anyone else not to buy them, and I have many friends who do. Since I’ve stopped buying, I feel better. I don’t want things I don’t need and can’t afford.

      As far as the foreign aid situation is concerned, that’s a whole other post, but I will say this. I am not interested in donating cash for aid. It’s been shown not to work. I would rather donate my time and services which has been shown to work, and use my voice to lobby governments that spend less than 1% of their GDP on healthcare for their people, and 60% of it on the military. My example about the Gucci bag was just an example, it was not intended as a judgement. My point was that there are wants and there are needs, and why mistake wants for needs when you don’t have to?

      I’ve been in the position in the past to buy that stuff but haven’t because I personally find it all somewhat generic. And again, I don’t care what other people do, or if they wear or buy it, but it is not for me.

      1. Thanks for the reply.

        I remember reading a post of yours on the vogue forums stating something like you are not interested in buying something that could fund a child’s education in the third world. Why does it matter if you think that cash for aid isn’t the way to go anyway? Maybe it’s unintentional but I feel that your posts are sometimes judgemental – perhaps it’s just your style of writing. Nevertheless, your comments seem to be hypocritical to say the least.

      2. Well I’m not interested in buying it. I’m really not. I wouldn’t spend $2000 on a handbag. Wild horses couldn’t make me. The comparison isn’t about giving cash as foreign aid as you keep coming back to. It’s about the relative value of money. I used the comparison of a lifetime of education to a handbag to demonstrate that relativity. It’s not up to me to fund a childs education in Africa – their own government should be doing that. But having been in the developing world and seeing how vastly different the value of money is, I can’t bring myself to do it. We all have our own thresholds.

        I can’t change the fact that you choose to think I’m a judgmental hypocrite. I haven’t told anyone they’re wrong to do what they do. I don’t believe you can sit in judgement over anyone unless you live a life identical to theirs. Your experience shapes your choices and unless I’ve lived the exact same life as someone else, I have no right to judge them. I do get my own opinion though, and I can’t really help how people choose to interpret me.

  2. Also, it would be interesting to see whether your perspective would be different should you be in the fortunate position with the ability to buy everything advertised in the magazines.

    But of course, you would protest that it wouldn’t…

  3. I have just discovered your blog and I think this post really resonates with me. I read magazines occasionally for something to do at lunch, but what is in them is utter rubbish.

    I don’t find your tone judgmental at all – I ‘got’ that you were just stating your opinion, most of which I can relate to.

    Loving the rest of the blog too.

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