Color me Glamour®-less

When I was younger I read Glamour® magazine (which, according to Wikipedia had a total U.S. circulation‎ of 2,300,854 in 2013). I aged out of it and the occasional times I took a look at the magazine in more recent years the tone didn’t quite work for me. In large part I felt swamped by all the emphasis on buying crap.

I recently got the February issue as someone’s giveaway. It was an issue specifically written and produced solely by women as a nod to recent events. If you don’t know the magazine, not only are there ads but the articles themselves routinely list things to buy, usually with their prices. In fact a standard feature is a small-type page in the back of each issue listing all the products mentioned by page number and where they can be bought. There was something I wanted to do: count all the items – most of it beauty/fashion related – advertised in the magazine.

On my count I found 47 “regular” ads, that is pages or partial pages bought and paid for by advertisers. However, within the actual articles I found 183 specific products mentioned, most with prices. These included a $2600 necklace, $725 shoes, $161 earrings, a $180 top, a $425 purse, and a $13,300 skirt. Mind you, I didn’t go hunting to find pricey stuff; these were typical costs, and not cited as being splurges or luxury buys either.

It happens that I saved old issues one year and have the February 1994 issue – 23 years older – for a comparison. That issue had 88 “regular” ads in contrast to 2017’s 47, that is advertisements that were clearly advertisements, bought and paid for by companies. However, there were a mere 88 (as opposed to 2017’s 183) specific items mentioned/advertised for sale in the articles themselves.  I knew, simply from general observation that they were hawking a lot more products but that’s quite a jump on inserting products into articles and features.

Clearly the magazine is not meant for a middle-aged, thrift store-shopping bargain hunter like me. I get that, I do. What’s bothersome though, is the message being sent – even in an issue dedicated specifically to women – one which focuses heavily on spending money on fashion and beauty products, even to those who surely can’t afford it. It normalizes extravagant buying, to an impressionable market.

Further, it makes clear there are many things wrong or minimally in need of improvement in women which can be remedied IF they buy these products. Even a reasonably confident, accomplished, attractive person could fall victim to doubt in the face of such an onslaught. And this is just one issue! This isn’t groundbreaking information I’m giving you but what’s significant to me is how much this has become, as I already said, normalized.  Even I, who am aware of things like marketing ploys and a culture which on whole  routinely undermines women, in ways small and behemoth, was surprised by my ad count. I will not look at the magazine again.

The 1994 issue was more interesting to me even today over the 2017 copy and seemed to be more rounded, covering a broader range of topics affecting (young) women’s lives. It was kind of more fun too. If that magazine was still available, I might be interested.

I understand that print journalism is in trouble and magazines and newspapers need to fight to stay relevant and afloat. (Side note: if you have an interest the 2011 documentary Page One: inside the New York Times is a worthy look into what newspapers are facing and how a leading one in particular fought to remain viable.) But if selling their souls to special interests and marketing is what’s required to stay in business,, I’m not sure I see the point. At least don’t pretend you’re other than some corporation’s sales people and mouthpieces trying to part women from their money.

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Color me Glamour®-less

  1. C.E.Robinson

    , I stay away from those types of magazines. Your post reinforces why! Yep, it’s bargain stores and sales racks for me. Over the years, I’ve become frugal about buying “anything.” I goes with the retirement life style! Have a wonder-filled week! 💛 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I just didn’t quite realize how bad it was – and I know looking at magazines like this makes me start to want stuff I don’t need (exactly the intention!). I think it takes confidence to say “no thanks”as you’ve done and to shop within or under your means.

      Like

      Reply
  2. Kate Crimmins

    I used to read Glamour too. Loved it. Kept me in “vogue.” I haven’t seen it in years but I can guess that I wouldn’t relate to the clothes or the articles. Most of the magazines are changing too. I have been getting Good Housekeeping since I was just out of high school. Loved the articles (wide ranging), recipes (do-able!) and fashion (not too outlandish). Now it is so thin and skimpy. I’m not sure why I keep subscribing. Maybe I’m trying to hang onto something that’s gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I know just what you’re saying. And maybe we keep looking to see if they will return to what they were. I have some general ambivalence about drifting further afield from popular culture (and not reading popular magazines is part of that); I feel like I’m headed toward not knowing what’s going on — and I don’t want to become clueless. Plus I figure some of the new stuff might appeal to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. vanbytheriver

    Not only could I not afford the clothing, jewelry, makeup in those magazines, I couldn’t really afford the magazine itself. When I could afford it all, I had lost interest. I was getting foodie kinds of magazines for a while, till the ads overtook them as well. The best I had was National Geographic, which was a work of art. I still have quite a few of them today.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I subscribed for a few years; I’m sure it was no more than a $1 an issue if that and then I’d check them out of the library (and remind myself not to randomly rip out pages!). I really haven’t looked at National Geographic as an adult. I did subscribe to Esquire for awhile. They have a new editor (pitching to younger audience) and I’m considering a return. Still checking out library issues. I wish there was a woman’s equivalent of Esquire.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. writerinsoul Post author

      It’s so true. Everything is bought and paid for and increasingly bigger companies are swallowing everything. You really have to work hard to get unbiased – or at least trustworthy biased – information.

      Like

      Reply
  4. autumnashbough

    I actually love the articles in the new Teen Vogue. But Vogue has published up-and-coming , socially aware writers since Vietnam, so I guess this new direction for Ten Vogue is not that surprising. There are still plenty of ads, but there’s also real content.

    I’m cheap, though. I follow them on Twitter so I can just read the good stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. battlewagon13

    Like you said, there’s a reason that newspapers and magazines are going the way of the dodo. It’s no different, however, than trying to watch a 13-second clip of a great catch on ESPN online and having to sit through a 30-second ad to get to it. It’s infuriating and only forces people like me to go to Netflix for entertainment more and more, and go to places like Flipbook and other ‘aggregate’ news sources for my news.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Have something you'd like to say about this?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s