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My first issue of "Good Housekeeping" arrived today. It's a gift from my mom- a whole year of the magazine she says I always flip through at her house. I probably do, but that's because I read like people watch TV- if it's there, I will look at it.

There is something vaguely creepy about this magazine. Creepy besides Dr Phil snuggling his rather diamond-bedecked wife while offering marriage advice. Let me give you the headlines:

The Makeover Issue- 122 Quick Changes for your health, body, home and happiness

Lose 30+ lbs Without Trying 9 Easy Food Changes

Save $100s on heating bills (and stay cozy)

ReDo a Room in 48 Hours On The Cheap

Look 5 Years Younger, Fast! No Diet, No Surgery

Dr Phil and Robin Share 5 Secrets of Happy Couples (Yes, you can fall in love again!)

In other words- you can totally be someone better, thinner, younger, and more organized... without any investment of real time or effort.

But well, it was a present. And so I sat down to read it.

Every article is telling yoiu you're not _____ enough, or that you need to ______. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't really call them articles, for the most part. They're bossy advice pieces.This magazine is so insidiously horrible I'm amazed women don't burn it in effigy so they don't have to actually touch one.

This is a direct quote from "5 years younger:"

Look closer- who's that lurking under all those dark, shapeless layers? "It's sort of an unwritten rule in New York that you wear black," says Linda, and this self-described utilitarian is totally with the program (we didn't try to talk her out of it- just persuaded her her to go for a tp with a little more shape, opposite). More colorphobia: she never wanted to cover her gray hairs, even though they made her mane frizzy and unmanageable, and had never been big on color cosmetics, tending to leave her beautiful face bare."

Y'ALL I AM SMACKING MY HEAD AGAINST THE PIANO. (I moved the computer to on top of the piano for Superbowl.)

Let me reword that paragraph the way it plays in my head:
Who's that frumpy little thing? Awww... look! You picked up one style trend, let's work with that so it looks like you're actually dictating things. Now, that streak of gray hair in front you've got? That's making your hair unmanageable. It's not that you have naturally curly hair. (Let's straighten that, which takes about 10 minutes, add some hair color, that's an hour and half every few weeks) Also, we'll give you props for having a beautiful face, but no makeup? That is a crime against nature (and our advertisers) so let's slap some pigment on your beautiful (BARE!) face.

Seriously, this magazine is like an abusive boyfriend- it gives you just enough compliments to build you up, then with the other hand, whallops you with diet, 'fashion' tips to 'minimize your figure,' and a healthy helping of, "relationships, home, and children are pretty much all on you." At least Cosmo has the decency to give tips on orgasms. The closest thing to sex here is a note about their new (online) sex columnist talking about how she'd rather have a good night's sleep than sex.

NEXT MONTH IN GOOD HOUSEKEEPING: How to vacuum in pearls.

Okay, it's not all bad- I found three things I like. One, is a nice picture of Jaimie Lee Curtis with a haircut I'm going to steal. (A gray haircut, by the way! How they didn't airbrush it blonde is beyond me) A recipe for Balsamic Chicken and Pears that looks really good. And there was a piece on how to stop procrastinating, which, although it didn't actually include the phrase, "Limit Livejournal Time," was still relevant to my interests.

So I don't think I'll cancel the subscription. I'm sure my mom meant well. I just can't help but be angry that Cosmo gets blamed for making women hate their bodies and change their lives to fit some gender construct, when they're not actually giving you tips on how and why to do it- all these housekeeping magazines seem to be less about the house and more about the keeping- a man, your 'figure,' your sanity,' and most importantly- your status quo.


( 12 sips — Tipsy yet? )
Feb. 5th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
All women's magazines (or at least the ones that aren't expressly feminist in tone) are about improving yourself, because they're really about selling things. You can't sell stuff to people who feel like they have enough or are happy with themselves.

Some of it is a little sneakier than making you want to buy stuff that makes you look good in other people's eyes. A lot of it is about convincing you that you need such-and-such in order to be happy or comfortable -- creating necessity where it doesn't exist. On one page they'll tell you how to save money, so that on the next they can tell you to 'pamper yourself' by spending money.
Feb. 6th, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)
I know that, and even the feminist ones want you to buy things (hence the edless book reviews and album sections, etc. Even the Bitch list is usually half product.)

And that 'give with one hand, take away with the other," is even weirder when you look at the recipes- Here, make a rather expensive (shrimp and black bean) dinner, then follow it up with our decadent _____- at only 100 calories a pop!

Um... you could have a couple apples ro what have you for that amount of calories, AND you'd be supporting local farmers/organic growers/whatever, instead of making somethng out of Splenda and stale graham crackers and AAAARGH okay I'm stopping here.
Feb. 5th, 2008 08:51 pm (UTC)
Good Housekeeping is actually one of my favorites at work.

You see, we cut magazines to shreds to use for arts and crafts.

Also, the recipes are good.

Other than that, I don't bother actually READING it.
Feb. 5th, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this.
My mom used to subscribe me to that, and other equally frightening publications. I finally told her that if she subscribed me to one more magazine I'd bop her over the nose like an owner with a newspaper and a bad dog! Thankfully, I no longer receive monthly installments of "We can make you perfect." and I'm much happier for it.

Feb. 6th, 2008 02:53 am (UTC)
Re: Thanks for this.
Hehe- I was telling my friend B- I have Bitch and Bust magazine, and I totally forgot it was sitting under them, so it was like, 'Feminist, feminist... what the feminists are complaining about.!"
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 6th, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)
Oh man- Wax Your Fuck Hole- We'll Show You An Easy Way!
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 6th, 2008 03:23 am (UTC)
This pun will NEVER stop amusing me.
Our professional redecorators are at your cervix!
Feb. 6th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
How fucking infuriating. :/
Feb. 6th, 2008 02:47 am (UTC)
Hrm, I really really like this post of yours. Would you be willing to give me permission to repost it, with full credit, in my blog?
Feb. 6th, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)
Sure, it's public.
Feb. 6th, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
Thank you x1000 :)

( 12 sips — Tipsy yet? )

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