As a teenager I grew up with Bunty (a comic) and graduated to the teen magazines such as Jackie that showed you where to shave, how to do your makeup, and how to be a good girlfriend. It’s kind of funny how today it’s all on YouTube or on a website, but that isn’t the only reason to stop buying magazines.
My mother used to buy the weeklies such as Woman’s Own, and the monthly glossies Good Housekeeping, and the odd Cosmopolitan (was my mother that trendy then?). I yearned to be old enough to buy my own magazines, and glossies were seen as luxury items for posh people. I thought Vogue was out of my reach, but now I realize it was a different era where these spined magazines inspired people, and now you can buy them for £1. These days Vogue is focused on advertising and is a place for the wannabes to be photographed in, and celebrities to say they have made it in the pages of Vogue. It’s no longer a trendsetter, but a place where companies court the magazine to feature their wares be it clothes, art, services, or their name.
You see, I used to subscribe to just about every single magazine a couple of decades ago as I wanted to be a fashion journalist and obviously needed to keep up to date. I even spent time working as a fashion assistant on a magazine, and that was the killer—seeing behind the scenes. It wasn’t glam at all, and much of what goes into the magazine depends on what companies gives the best freebies or who takes someone out to lunch. Still, there was some good journalism, if not some great photos that doubled up as arty posters on my University dorm walls. In the office, time is spent on the phone to sort out samples being delivered, ironing them, signing for packages, returning them, and then trying to make up a story from what you have samples you have managed to get hold of.
I meticulously archived the magazines in order over the years but that came to a tragic end for a number of reasons. First, I was moving house and I couldn’t justify spending money on storage for all the magazines I had. They ended up in about 20 recycling bags, except for some glossies and out of circulation magazines that I hope will one day be worth more than the cover price. In my parent’s house, I had a library, however that too got destroyed. My bedroom was next to the kitchen, to be more precise the washing machine, and I hadn’t been back for years. Apparently my mother has a habit of stopping the machine when she feels like it (to save energy), and didn’t think Calgon was worth buying. There had been a slow leak and my entire bookcase of magazines and books had been ruined. It had lain like that for nearly a year according to their calculations when dad had attempted to fix the drainage. The leak had also damaged the carpet, the bureau, and part of the wooden bedstead, but those things could be replaced unlike a decade of limited edition magazines.
It was heartbreaking as I had to look at what I could salvage, while mold had built up. I had to think to myself they were only magazines, but they had been more. They had been my eyes to the outside world as a teenager in a small town waiting to leave. Needless to say my mother now buys Calgon in bulk and invested in a new washing machine, and put aside her frugality in wanting to keep the machine going until it stopped. There was a lesson here for both of my parents, as trying to use a quick wash and to drain the machine to save energy ended up in them having to replace everything in my bedroom (far more expensive). In addition there were childhood drawings and things that were damaged that could not be replaced, and yes, they did feel guilty.
Anyhow, I digress to the present day. I picked up a few of the old titles I used to love; Glamour, Marie Claire, Red, and Grazia only to find the editorials of today are mainly feminists and leftist rants by sub par writers. I wonderful friend of mine, Riva was featured in Glamour and admitted that she longer picked up and read magazines, and as she is only 26 years old I wondered why. Now I know—they are no longer inspiring, but packed full of gossip, reality star interviews, and propaganda. That isn’t what women’s magazines are about. Okay, maybe the odd article every now and then, but not when each issue is jam packed with promoting leftist views, and why are the covers of airbrushed actresses or the spouses of celebrities who no one really cares about? Why are reality stars given a status of being inspirational for showing off how they live? Is being married to a celebrity or being on a reality show the qualification to be on a front cover? A cover is supposed to represent the magazine and what it’s about, and that alone stops me buying any of them, as they are neither inspirational or represent anything I admire.
I do buy the odd magazine, but only when there is a decent free gift on the cover. I have built up a nice collection of Elemis face creams, Rodial eye pencils, and some rather nice Neal’s Yard hand creams. That is the only reason for buying them, in fact I take the freebie and recycle the magazine after a cursory flick through. Ironically, the only glossies that maintain some slither of decent journalism are Harper’s Bazaar, and Tatler (tongue in cheek), as Vogue had lost its way a long time ago and clings to its reputation.
Of course as may people turn to online versions of the magazine, the sale of physical copies has declined. Are magazines written for the women of today, and can they truly relate to the content? If so, then I am far removed from it all. I see instead a collection of writings similar to some websites like Thought Catalog or Huff Post where it’s a platform for people to push their ideals and beliefs rather than to report on trends and what is happening in the world. Maybe it’s time to go back to comics for some light entertainment, or failing that you can’t go wrong with a cookery magazine or a travel one for the photos at least?