Saturday, March 19, 2011

Magazine Rant

I read the magazine Shape. I have for a long period of time. I like the features that highlight some of the scientific findings in health and fitness, and I like to read a magazine about empowering women to be fit. I like the "work outs" because I am normally so intimidated by the weight machines and weights at the gym (or by figuring out how to target muscle groups, etc). I like it as a reference and an easy read. Some of the stories are inspirational, and the magazine highlights some "normal" women who are "just like you!", which is kinda nice. They also purport to not airbrush the women on the cover (although they are heavily make-upped, lighted and "done up", I always liked that honesty. As in, these women have worked their asses off to look like this, we're not going to change a thing, right? However, they have recently changed the format of their magazine, and I have been getting more and more irritated with the changes they have made. The most recent issue might be my last. While I understand these magazines can be slightly ridiculous, this magazine was one that I used to enjoy. However...well, let's just see what you think...

In their regular feature, "Shape your life: Sex", all three of the tidbits of advice apply to the guy, not the girl. As a women's magazine, I think this is absolutely ridiculous. The first piece of advice is to have morning sex. While not the most shocking thing, it goes on to say that women aren't often "in the mood" in the morning, but the guy is. Therefore, you should sleep naked to get him even more aroused, and then morning sex could make your day better. The second tidbit of advice is to not let the man in your life see you do things like floss, shave, or pop zits. You should close the door to retain a bit of "mystery". And lastly, you should take a vacation to a tropical island so the man in your life can get some vitamin D, boosting his testosterone levels, and upping his sex drive.
  • OK, are you kidding me? There are thousands of women who report not being satisfied by their sex life, and you go and report on how to turn him on? I mean, lets just ignore the fact that none of these pieces of advice should be repeated. Why not talk about how women can get more satisfaction out of their sex life? Why not talk about how to find the time in the day, what to do if you're tired, the kids are screaming, there's laundry to be done? How about how to find time for yourself? How to maintain work/life balance? Hell, how to satisfy yourself? How to communicate in bed? How to find the G-spot (sorry, I went there...)? Were all of these things not valid? What if your significant other's sex drive is higher than yours? Yours is higher than his or hers? Were there no tidbits of information that might help a woman out? At all? All of them had to be about the guy? Oh, I could go on and on...
In another feature, the "Get Fit Workout of the Month", the magazine chooses to highlight the thighs and what moves to do to work them out. I usually like this feature because it includes a little breakdown on the muscle groups here, and it shows you ways to work them with machines at the gym. As an introduction, the magazine wrote this is highlighted, bold pink lettering, "If your thighs rub together, you know exactly what we're talking about, and if they don't, you probably work hard to keep them that way." Below this is written, "This month, we're going to help you conquer this common trouble spot so you can expend your mental energy on more important things - like which heels make your legs look sexier."
  • Once again, are you kidding me? Firstly, your legs are a part of your anatomy. They are shaped that way for a reason!!! Thigh "jiggle" and thighs touching? OK, it's now become patently clear that our view of womens' bodies is so distorted because models' already thin thighs are photoshopped to not include that area of your thighs that (horror!) touches. Why not highlight things about your thighs that you might want to improve on. Or things that you might not realize. Like running only works part of your thighs, cycling might work another. Balancing your muscle proportions out might help you get better at the sport you enjoy. Secondly, please don't patronize me by saying that I am spending "mental energy" on why my thighs touch and what to do about it. Please also don't make a blanket statement about how I want to spend my mental energy on shoes. I spend my mental energy on things like current events, family, friends, work, school, and books I enjoy. My thighs (as ugly and imperfect as you think they are) carry me to all these events where I spend my mental energy, so just shut your trap about that, would ya?
  • This idea that women are constantly worrying over distinct parts of their bodies really worries me. Why focus on discrete parts of your body when, for the most part, all things function? Why not talk about wanting strong thighs so you can pick up your kids? Because weight bearing exercise helps prevent osteoporosis? Because you have always wanted to try out spin class? Why not put a positive spin on things, instead of pointing out the things that they think might be "wrong" with you?
Besides these two glaring points, it includes an interview with Sofia Vergara, an actress, talking about her "killer curves". This article is written from an odd point of view. Instead of celebrating the way she looks, the writer seems almost incredulous that she's happy in her skin. Vergara doesn't seem to work out to look good (and she even says it's a part of her job, which I actually enjoyed for the honesty). The cover includes an "overlay" of Vergara in a dress - they you can peel that off and find her picture in a bikini (which is what most covers look like). Why is she not in a bikini for the regular cover? I just don't get it. Also, the magazine is chock full of ads for botox, quick weight loss supplements or pills, and food supplements that are awful for you. I realize that a magazine has to pay it's bills, but, honestly, I am just sick of it.

In the US, there is an obesity epidemic that will lead to terrible consequences. Lying to people by saying that diet and exercise don't matter is not going to help the cause at all. Exercise and diet choices need to be made accessible for everyone. And while I realize that Shape Magazine is not the spokesperson to the world, it's down to earth message of "You can do this!" is a great place to find motivation. However, not everyone has a super skinny body, not everyone is super concerned about touching thighs or the little fold of skin in the armpit. Everyone should be concerned with ways to fit in exercise on a daily basis. Ways to make healthy diet choices, how to shop for better food. How not to pass on these ridiculous ideas on body snarking and body image to our sons and daughters, who will likely bear the brunt of this obesity epidemic. How to cut back on processed food. What are processed foods? Where do they come from? How do I exercise with a toddler? How do I get my significant other to support my goals? How do I sign up for a race? How do I find other people who want to go to the gym with me? How do I live to be 100? How do I do all of this while being depressed about losing my job and my home?
Seriously, I think there are so many things these magazines could focus on. Positive spins on ways to get motivated, get moving and be active. But they disappoint me month after month, with their crap about ridiculously inane ideas of how my body should look. Well, I'm sorry, Shape, but you've just lost a subscriber.


Randi said...

Journalism needs a swift kick in the ass in general but especially women's magazines. I thought Vanity Fair was awesome until they had two issues dedicated to Justin Bieber and Linday Lohan. Now we no longer subscribe. This isn't Teen Beat.

Andrea said...