I’ve made my thoughts on women’s magazines clear in the past and I wont rehash them – too much. Today I was in Mag Nation with my man and while he was browsing through the copies of Monocle and whole magazines dedicated to t-shirts (fall of Rome?) I picked up a copy of Women’s Health under the belief that it would be, you know, about health.
I judge a magazine by it’s cover. This cover told me how to be better in bed, ways to not be ashamed about my bikini bod, a food and exercise diary to get that bikini bod, and multiple different ways on how to ‘trim down’ or ‘lose the excess’ etc etc.
This is not health. In that magazine’s defence, they often publish the results of studies in an easy-to-read and useful way so it’s not all bad. But plastering the front cover of a magazine with the ten million ways you too can lose weight and be desired and then linking this with the idea of health is just wrong. It’s also this assumption that all women want to know about is how to be thin and attractive. It assumes you’re a fat idiot who needs a diary to do basic things like eating. And if you are overweight, no 3-week-fat-blast-your-way-to-a-bikini-bod program is going to fix it. It’s going to set you up to fail and the cynical part of me says that it sets you up to fail so you keep on buying all that shit. And if you are overweight, you don’t need that. You need to know that there are no obese 80 year olds because they don’t make it to 80 and then you need to fix what’s broken in your life.
And what if I’m not fat? What if, god forbid, I like my body in a bikini and what if I don’t binge drink, binge eat, drink sugary soft drinks or snack all day at the office? What if I don’t do any of those things but I’d still like to read a magazine about health? Yes, obesity is a frightening problem and yes I think everyone should be made to walk through the dialysis unit where many too-young people sit with kidney failure thanks to their type 2 diabetes but I don’t think treating your audience with contempt then setting them up to fail is really the way to go about fixing that. What about a two year diary? What about an article on how your friends and family love you in spite of the fact you don’t have washboard abs or the right size boobs? And that if it really really was about how you looked then we’d all be lonely with no friends because none of us, not a single one, would match up to the ever-shifting image of visual perfection created for us? That maybe those perfect boobs and washboard abs are nothing more than constructs set up to undermine you into believing you need these things to be loved?
How about an article on things you can get your body to do rather than how it looks? Because it’s a pretty amazing thing your body. It self-detoxifies (that’s called your liver), it extracts oxygen from the air, puts it into your blood, then exchanges it for carbon dioxide (that’s your lungs), it can recognise and defend you from the most complicated of microscopic lifeforms (your immune system), and did I mention it can do physics? Play the piano? Love someone? Invent rockets? Do backflips? Swim? Get tingles when someone kisses you?
And these magazines want you to worry about how you look in a bikini?
Your body is already amazing. And being loved isn’t as simple as being hot. If that were true, supermodels would never get dumped.
I want a magazine that says “aim for a waist circumference of x” so you don’t die of a heart attack at 60. Now here’s some martial arts moves. Want to learn backflips? Swim in the ocean without getting puffed out? A 5 week plan to a handstand. Here’s how to play outside as an adult. Juggling moves and circus tricks. Amazing things you can do with that body of yours that no one ever told you about.
I put the magazine down and I walked away. Found another one called “Dumbo Feather”, all about the amazing things people do, how they did it, the challenges they met, and what they did about them. I don’t need to be treated like an idiot – and neither do you.