I've been a subscriber to Women's Sport & Fitness magazine for a little under a year. I think I thought it would inspire me. Yesterday, it came in the mail with a little notice that the magazine has folded after only three years. This is the last issue. A "collector's issue" the corner ribbon touted. Please.
I feel like storming over to their offices and smacking their pretty, little faces for not having the sharp editorial focus and the steel-reinforced backbone needed to keep such a magazine focused. Real women's magazines suck.
It seems to me that on the consumer side there's two types of magazines that sell well: there's the men's magazines which use overly-sexualized views of women to entice and engage their male readers and there's the women's magazines which use overly-sexualized views of women to entice and humiliate their female readers. So, when a magazine comes along for women that seems to be against the grain, it irritates me to see it waffle and capitulate at the feet of the status quo.
For every inciteful and on-the-mark article that WSF had (and, really, there weren't many) there was a fluff piece the devalued the whole rag. There was a piece a couple months ago entitled something like "Are Celebrities Too Thin?" and showed a gamut of rail-thin celebrity victims like Calista Flockhart, Gwenyth Paltrow, Jennifer Anniston and the other usual suspects. Then it went on to highlight how toned they were: "Check out the super-muscular calves on Calista!", "Gwenyth's workout regime consists of Yoga six times a week and strength-training five days a week!" So, for reasons I cannot fathom, the editors shied away from the very question they were asking and went on to perpetuate the Hollywood beauty myth. Sweet.
There was a rather lengthy article last summer about some fashion editor and her assistant who went to take part in some bicycle meet thing. It was all very toungue-in-cheek about how they were city girls and didn't want to get their Prada bike shorts dirty. In the end, I think the fashion editor overslept and missed the race. So, you know, that was useful and motivating.
In their parting letter to readers, they ask us to recall with great fondnes their inspiring profiles of athletes such as Martina Hingis and Mia Hamm (fine) and to giggle over their crazy, "original workout ideas" such as the "21st century workout with Leila, the alien from Futurama" (like, omigod! tee-hee). That Futurama thing was last month! Last month! Pathetic.
Goodbye women's "fitness" magazine without a backbone. Thanks for pulling your own plug. I was hating to turn on my sisters but you all were really bringing me down. It was only a matter of time.
WSF isn't the only thing getting my wrath these days. I've also soured on Men's Health which Thom subscribes to and I've been pretty impressed and astounded with what I find in there. For the most part, the tone is very real-world. There are articles on health and fitness (naturally) and family, sex, work, stress, etc. The articles are, by and large, very balanced and represent, for me anyway, the kind of normal, upstanding guy that I happen to adore. Lately, though, they've been getting a little Maximish which is really steaming my tail.
In the last issue, there was a piece along the lines of "50 Things Men Should Never Apologize For" which is a parody of a cliché of the typical dumb and divisive headlines you expect to see in a "men's" magazine. The implied context there is that women demand apologies for things which, by their very nature, damage the manhood and masculity of our fragile men. The examples typified a male with the manners and desires of a disaffected, beer-swilling mongoloid trapped in a loveless union with a bitter, angry, harpy-princess.
A few pages later, in the same issue, was an article on "male-friendly" colleges. It was a confused and rambling comparison of campuses based on criteria that seemed to have no solid basis in reality. There was Antioch, of course, brought forth as an example of a male-unfriendly school how obvious. There was a strange bit about the use of campus rape policies as a black mark if strongly enforced. My feeling there was, I get the whole male-persecution whine-whine part but should you really be bringing up rape as an issue here? Maybe you better step away from that topic, big boy. You can't win and you'll make an ass of yourself by trying.
Overall, I'm sick of being disappointed. People like to say in response to rants like this: "Well, if people didn't buy it..." which is total bullshit. I buy some of this stuff in spite of the crap. I wade through the crap to get to the meat. Just because the crap is there doesn't mean I like it or want it. They put the crap out there because they are lazy and unimaginative. I want an all-meat sandwhich. Give it to me. I'll buy it. Pander to me with intelligence and I'll suck it up.
So, I'm reading Real Simple these days. I initially picked it up for its aesthetic but there's good stuff in there. I'm sure it'll fold within a year. The thing that's the coolest about it, though, is that after their first few issues people were complaining that a magazine about simplification shouldn't be featuring clothes that cost more than your average person earns in a week. So, in the next issue, they cut the cost on the clothes they were showing. That's a great example of maintaining your editorial focus and integrity.
Intelligence and integrity. That's all I want.
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