May 4, 2009

Dunny-side Reading & The Trouble With Magazines OR How To Instantly Feel Better About Your Life & Save Money In One Small Step

My father is, like many men I know, an avid toilet session reader. Now, if any of you are toilet readers you may have already learnt the secret trick to this. A big book, with large text and preferably humorous content will keep you entertained over weeks of loo sittings.

I was at some friends of ours a few weeks ago and found they had a Suicide Bunny book. It was full of cartoons and very pleasant to flick through whilst distracting oneself from the task at hand.

My dad had the very dense biography of Mao Tse Tung next to his toilet for years, but recently something alarming happened. He finished the book.

To the delight of my step mother, this temporarily shortened his otherwise somewhat extended visits to the dunny.

He was desperate; he needed something to keep him entertained. Until he started collecting her
Madison magazines, material he wasn’t particularly interested in but fulfilled the simple reading requirement and had lots of pretty pictures (the Russian also used to nick my glossies for the same purposes until I saw the light and ceased buying them forever... but we’ll get to that.)

So, the other day he was able to recount to me his horror when he read the true life tale of a yoyo dieter who was obese when her husband was diagnosed with cancer and then, much to her delight, began to lose the weight without even trying as he slowly succumbed to the disease.
He was outraged at the underlying moral of the article, Hubby Dies I Get Skinny (peculiar and disturbing.)

It just reminded how evil women’s magazines are. I had forgotten, since I made a conscious decision over three years ago never to buy them. And I was something of a fan, I liked the trashy tabloids that you grab at the checkout, the advertising-dense fashion bibles and the girly reads. I bought them as treats, but found they left me wanting.

In every aspect of the word. By the time I had read through the mag I was of the opinion that I wasn't pretty enough or skinny enough or successful enough, no matter how high my self esteem was before I started reading. I would be making mental lists of things... stuff... that I needed as I read.

"Oh, I need to get that dress/top/jeans/shoes/car/watch/man/career/lifestyle."

I now recoil at the sight of a
Shop Til You Drop, Cosmo, Cleo etc because I feel the evil, targeted insecurity-breeding bad writing leaping out of the shiny glossy pages at me.

The bitchy women-trashing, celebrity-spying that feeds into their reader’s insecurity (which they certainly are partly to blame for) disgusts me.

The eye-scratching betrayal of the sisterhood by sending befuddling mixed message in articles that offer empowering, self-esteem booting information placed next to a double page spread of airbrushed teenage nymphs with lesbian undertones.

The moronically recycled sex tips have been in circulation so long my “tweenie” cousins could recite the list of Must Do’s when giving a blow-job (oh yes, they catch them young with the insidious
Dolly and Girlfriend) without even really knowing what they are talking about.

It’s gross.

These mags are brimming with pictures that have been digitally altered in sophisticated programs. Altered beyond belief even when the subjects have mostly gone under the scalpel themselves to render their own bodies so unreal that we now have a warped idea of what is natural and beautiful.

It sucks. I hate them. Opt out.


  1. I'm learning about brainwashing as part of my reading in psychology, and this really does fit the bill. I just can't stand being marketed to in that fashion. I have enough trouble feeling like I "need" something while window shopping, let alone reading something designed to foster inadequacy!

    I appreciate marketing and advertising when it helps me find a product or service I'm searching for. However, there is, alas, no product that truly grants genuine self esteem, and having objects marketed as if this is the case is condescending.

  2. Sadly I too was an avid reader and obsessed over trash magazines!!!
    The Glits the glamour the desire to be considered the gorgeous successful woman like those in the pictures hmmm its all an illusion
    It all began at such a young age that by the time I was in my mid twenties I didn't even realise that I was purchasing multiple mags weekly.
    Thankfully this has ceased and I have seen the error of my ways.
    Even now, I am still tempted to buy but then realise that it won't make me feel more empowered. Rather the opposite, deflated as I don't particularly posses the same attributes as the women in the pictures.
    I feel better about my appearance and finally seem to have control over my horrible notion of comparing myself to celebrity/models etc.
    I full heartedly agree with you Estelle, no more to Cleo,Cosmo, Madison, Marie Claire just to name a few.

    Xoxo Sungi

  3. I agree too ... maybe it comes with getting older and wiser and more confident in yourself? These days, I would much rather read books. I get them from the library, so they are free, and have the odded bonus, usually, of making me feel good about myself rather than inferior like so many magazines do.

  4. Touche ladies, seems like we're all on the same page with this one.

    Love your DIY tip about the library, Bronnie. A book is a treasure and those bloody mags... trash!