Monday, April 16, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: On Women's Magazines

I am a sucker for women's magazines. For the longest time, I read GL.AMOUR and Cla.ire, until I realized that I had kinda sorta aged out of their target demographic.

I know that women's magazines as a rule are pretty awful, presenting photoshopped images of women that are impossible to achieve in real life; giving advice on how to look more youthful, ever slimmer; and advertising clothing, shoes, and bags that the typical person can't truly afford.

But I do love a good beauty feature on lipsticks of the moment, and I love book recommendations, stories about relationships, tips on saving money and my health, yummy recipes, and stories about inspirational women.

So I got a subscription to Redb.ook in the last couple of years, because it seemed to have been rebranded a bit from the magazine of my youth that the middle aged ladies read and was a mix of recipes, and real-world fashion/beauty tips, and money management, and housewares.


For some reason, when I read Redb.ook, I don't feel particularly represented as a woman in my 40s without children. There are a lot of assumptions made that if you read this magazine, you have children. You're a mom. There's a lot of "we're all in this together" with reference to family trips and back to school and the stresses of mom-dom. There have been some infertility stories, but most if not all of them end with a baby, some way, some how. The message is that if you are a woman, you must also be a mom.

It irks me.

But I don't know of magazines that fit my demographic (not start-of-my-adult-life but also not quite AARP) that DON'T weigh heavily toward the parenting set. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the occasional mention of motherhood and the stresses and tips for that stage of life. But it's just not a stage of life that EVERYONE gets. Why is it necessary to have a section on looking less tired but only mention sleepless nights from little kids or the exhaustion of the carpool timeframe? Can't all women get a little you-time without making it always a "mommy's time out?"

I feel like there's an assumption made that MOST women are parenting in their 30s-50s, which seems to be the key demographic, and so most articles SHOULD mention motherhood as a given. Even a health spread on women's bodies and injury risks mentioned back pain from carrying boobs and pregnant bellies around. Not "you might carry a pregnant belly around," but "hell yeah, that pregnant belly EVERYONE carried around at some point wreaked havoc on your back."

So, am I missing a magazine out there that DOESN'T do this? I do love my Redb.ook, because they show real women frequently with many different bodies and ages and it covers a wide variety of interests, but the mom-centric bent is really getting to me lately. Isn't that what parenting magazines are for? I don't buy those [anymore] because they clearly don't apply to me.

Frankly, it's lonely to read a magazine that's supposed to speak to the woman's experience and feel so very left out, so frequently.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!


  1. For what it’s worth, I stopped reading women’s magazines years ago because I always felt sort of left out by them, that they weren’t really speaking to me or my life. That I didn’t have the 9-5 office job requiring business attire or conference calls or meetings or work travel, that I didn’t have the bank account (or style sense) to keep up with the latest fashion and makeup trends, that I didn’t get into the latest workout craze and had any interest in the latest tutorial, that I wasn’t traveling anywhere where I needed tips and tricks, I wasn’t hosting over the top parties or play dates, etc, etc, etc. Reading them made me feel more out of place and like I didn’t fit in. So it’s definitely not just you. I definitely don’t remember them being so totally mom-centric, but that’s frustrating that that seems to be the case now.

  2. Interesting. My hair salon doesn’t have Redbook so I’ve never read it. I can’t say I see myself in the women’s magazines I have read. Often i read to discover the opposite: what I am not lol. I think the most interesting article I read lately (well it must be because it’s the only one I remember) was about how to hookup while you are travelling. That isn’t something I want to do but it was an interesting insight into the thinking of a person who does. Other than that I like to look at the fashion pictures which are like a kind of art. Sometimes I get ideas for my own style but often these days I find them funny or absurd. Still I think they do say something about society and where we are heading because people dress how they feel. And when I think about how I dress and how I feel then I get some self insight. Anyway, no answers to your dilemma! It is kind of sad to realize pop culture doesn’t represent you....or not anymore....but it’s a feeling you can get used to lol.

  3. Totally agree with you that the writing in seems to slant that direction (or at least what I've read at the dentist/hairdresser/doctor). A lot of the women's magazines I've flipped through do seem very mom-centered.

    I mostly quit reading the articles in women's type magazines (I usually flip straight to the recipe section or look at the fashion pictures) after I read a really awful article in one that talked about the things friends are "secretly judging you for". One woman admitted she secretly checks the insides of microwaves at people's houses - because if inside the microwave was dirty, it probably applied to the whole place. It made me absolutely terrified to invite anyone over for quite awhile (and I still clean the inside of my microwave before people come!). Even aside from that, though, I've often felt that by trying to speak to "every woman", women's magazines sort of lose a lot of the reality of individuals in favor of a great deal of stereotyping.

  4. Yeah, I don't read women's magazines - both because I've read a lot about how they sometimes just invent the articles, because some of them are pitched at lowest common denominator, and because I hate the family-centric mothers-are-holy emphasis. Any baby conceived is either a surprise (wow, the couple weren't using contraception, and yet they still got pregnant!) or a miracle (wow, the poor couple had been trying for three whole months, and only then managed to get pregnant - I kid you not, an actual article about a NZ sports personality and his wife). I go for subject specific magazines or websites, that welcome anyone who is interested in their subject. I have a subscription to a food magazine, and that's enough!

    I wouldn't go out of my way to spit on the magazines, let alone give them my money! lol

  5. I honestly think magazines (and other media) focus on moms for marketing reasons.

    I haven't read it recently, but I remember Real Simple being more inclusive of people without kids – and different types of families in general (like single parents, gay couples, adoptive parents, and others who probably also feel left out).

  6. I think Stephanie hit the nail on the head: the focus is for marketing reasons. But, damnit, those reasonings are VERY out-of-date.

    I don't have any women's magazines suggestions for you (maybe Ms Magazine?), but I read the New Yorker regularly. Sometimes Vanity Fair and the Atlantic. Maybe the trick is finding something that is more general. But I agree, this aspect of focus needs to change.

  7. Oh, I used to read ALL those magazines (& then some!). I read Glamour for years, and then I started feeling too old for the content. :p But (particularly since the Internet), they sure pile up, & I thought, why am I spending all this money on stuff I'm not reading? Losing my job was incentive to cut WAY back on my magazine subscriptions & purchases. These days, my remaining subscriptions include Creative Scrapbooker (haven't scrapbooked in years, but it's a Canadian publication that I want to support), Canadian Living, Style at Home (also Canadian mags) & Entertainment Weekly, which is my absolute favourite. I still have the very first issue somewhere in our storage locker downstairs. ;)

    One I like to read once in a while that has some Glamour-ish content is Allure. It's focused specifically on makeup & personal care... no mommy-type articles.

  8. My brain is throbbing trying to come up with a 'womens' mag that isn't mommy centric. That is unfortunate. I'm not a fan of most these days as very few (none?) speak to me as a middle aged, Black, Lesbian, Athiest. So, I stick to food, news, and art. ;-)

  9. Oh boy can I empathize with what you're saying! While I enjoy fashion-forward women's magazines, I've never found one for my demographic: nerdy, fashion-backward, comfortable-shoe-wearing, frugal (aka too cheap for designer anything), DINK. Maybe creating a publication for that niche will be my second career - I'm sure there's a huge market for this demographic! :)

  10. I read Redbook for years, but I didn’t relate to it, either. After a while I began reading magazines about activities I enjoy. To this day, I read “Canoe and Kayak,” “Backpacker,” “Adirondack Life,” and “Living Bird.” I may not be able to do all that youthful activity, but I sure enjoy thinking about it. Magazines should inspire you, not depress you. If it makes you feel bad, back awaaaay from the ‘zine!