Up until recent years, I had an unhealthy obsession with magazines. I'd pool my pocket money together and subscribe to Mizz, pour over copies of Bliss under my desk at school and religiously purchase More! every Thursday on the way home from college. When getting the train to and from uni I made sure there was a glossy or two tucked away in my suitcase to keep me occupied throughout my journey. I never once considered them to be misogynistic or damaging to my mental health - I took them all as a little lighthearted fun. Reading them just felt as if I was conversing with an old friend.
In 2012, I moved to Southampton to study Writing Fashion and Culture at university. For three years I picked apart women's magazines with a fine tooth comb; writing countless articles and analyzing publications from cover to cover. By the end of my degree, I was sick to the back teeth of women's glossies. I'd seen them for what they really were; page upon page of sexist advertisements, forcing manufactured 'perfection' on their readers and pressing them to buy into a lifestyle that is barely achievable, let alone sustainable.
You could be completely content with life until you open a copy of Cosmopolitan and realise you're a disgrace to womanhood. You're not earning enough money. You don't have enough friends. You're leaving it too late to get married/travel/have children. And God Forbid you're not making your man climax 20 times a day because girl, he'll leave you for someone else if you don't get your arse in gear.
These days, I only support women's mags as a prop for pretty blog pictures. Along with the fact they make me feel like I'm inferior and that I should be spending my time doing yoga and working my way towards an uber-prestigious career, here are 8 reasons why I no longer read them:
- The ridiculously pretentious 'style tips' peppered with subtle slut-shaming. Don't pair wedges with a bikini because you'll look like a page 3 model. Avoid dark nails/red lipstick - it'll give you a 'femme-fatale' vibe and we all know men love a girl next door. Show a little cleavage but don't go overboard - you don't want potential boyfriends to think you're easy.
- The 'psychology experts' or 'agony aunts' who sprout utter bollocks. I recently read a quote from one stating that cheating on your partner feels like 'a delicious meal after months of dieting.' Okay, for some people that may be the case, but - shock horror - many couples are actually happy in their relationship and aren't gagging to shag any old Tom, Dick or Harry.
- Similarly, articles that paint all men out to be complete bastards and attempt to convince you your other half is doing the dirty. From sleazy 'confessions' that resemble an extract from a poorly-written erotic novel to lists of reasons to suspect an affair (if you've noticed him wearing a new aftershave or he's spending more time at the gym, he's definitely banging that girl from work, FYI). Thankyou for planting that seed in my head, Cosmo - you're meant to make me feel empowered, not paranoid.
- The way they constantly contradict themselves. They'll feature an article waxing lyrical about 'loving yourself' and 'embracing your imperfections' only to follow it up with a page dedicated to slagging celebrities off for venturing out without makeup or looking slightly overweight.
- The OBSESSION with being thin. Glance at the magazine rack in your local newsagents and you're guaranteed to find a publication promising 'miracle diets' or '5 ways to blitz your belly fat, FAST.' Also, anyone who happens to be a size 10 or over will be described as 'curvy.'
- The way they overuse phrases such as 'Desk to Dancefloor' or 'Boardroom to Bar' and assume everyone - literally everyone - works in some Devil-Wears-Prada-esque office. They don't.
- Double-page spreads detailing drama between a member of Eastenders and someone who was on TOWIE three years ago. We see enough of this on Twitter, I don't want to have to read it in Grazia, too.
- And finally - the sex tips. Dear Lord, the sex tips. Here are a few of my personal favourites (courtesy of Cosmo - seriously, who writes these?):
"Dip your breasts in edible body paint, and use them to 'sponge paint' his entire body. Then lick it off."
"As you're eating dinner together, say something X-rated like, 'See how I'm devouring this piece of meat? That's how I'm going to devour you.'"
"Stop mid action and point out a camera you've set up in the corner." Pretty sure this is illegal?
"After sex, grab your still-moist panties from the floor and use them to tie your hair back. This will show him that you're fun, casual and easy-going!"
"Slip a donut around his penis, and slowly eat it off."
Need I say more?!
What annoys you about women's magazines? x