The Issue With Magazines


I love magazines. I read them to switch off. I go to them for creative inspiration, and when I’m looking for something new to aspire to. I know what I want, and I thought I knew where to get it. However, with increasing regularity I've been finding myself finishing magazines feeling more weighed down than when I picked them up. Observing this shift over the past couple of years, I feel as though a lot of magazines have become so concerned with their own negative reputations for being shallow and vapid (in my opinion a dismissive generalisation perpetuated largely by people outside the target demographic but that’s a different issue) that they’re actually beginning to undermine themselves by overcompensating and heading too far in the opposite direction. Sure, chuck in a think piece and some necessary doses of reality every now and then. By all means include slightly unglamorous advice if it actually applies to every day life. But if I’ve come away from a self-proclaimed beauty, fashion and lifestyle magazine feeling like all I’ve seen are exposés on child labour in the Philippines and about six different takes on why millennials are never going to be able to afford to buy property then #sorrynotsorry, you’re doing your job wrong.

I’m not saying I'm here for 250 straight pages of  “Why Pink Shoes Are The Best Shoes” or “10 Scents To Drive Your Man Wild” (jk I would 100% read that and FYI according to an episode of Tyra I saw in 2008 guys really like vanilla and grapefruit), but I’ve also not come to your publication for my daily dose of hard-hitting current events journalism. There’s a time and a place for that, and in my mind at least that place isn’t casually slotted between Dream Destinations and an interview with the intergenerational Kardashian/Jenner conglomerate.

My point is not that these features and articles aren’t worthwhile, but rather that if you’re flooding an unrelated publication with them in an attempt to appease people who didn’t like what you were initially doing, chances are this sudden change in tone is going to alienate the people who did. People you worked hard to attract. People who have now stopped reading half way through your April Issue because they have turned the page to find a fourth, maybe fifth article “speaking the truth” about something they might entertain in another context, but right now could not care less about given that they are yet to come across a SINGLE attempt to inform them which pattern is a #dontevenTHINKaboutit this spring or convince them to try anti-gravity yoga. Not. One.

That’s what I am here for. I am here to escape, to shut off for a bit and to be warned away from polka dots. In fairness, I was never really into polka dots in the first place but it’s nice to have a bit of reinforcement from time to time. Not the point.

It’s not that I don’t care about this woman’s difficult upbringing in a Cambodian orphanage (I mean realistically I kind of don’t but let’s pretend I’m slightly more altruistic for argument’s sake), it’s that every page I spend reading about it is another one that I know isn’t going to contain any of the content that I bought the magazine expecting to find. It’s great to be progressive. It’s important to have depth and display new perspectives and grow. But there’s also nothing wrong with beauty tips or holidays or plaid (I think we’re still okay with plaid, but I wouldn’t know because this magazine hasn’t TOLD ME). Honestly, there’s already enough of a misguided stigma associated with showing a specific interest in areas like makeup and fashion as it is, and publications supposedly based around celebration and exploration of these areas suddenly trying to sidestep into more “worthwhile” content is not only counterproductive but a bit discourteous to the audience it used those 'shallow' interests to attract.

Sure, feature matters of substance, but don’t dismiss mainstream, accessible culture because it wouldn’t be gritty enough to seem credible in TIME. Write articles on the different ways self-expression through mediums like fashion and makeup can actually help you elevate yourself on a personal and professional level. Curate lists of genuine self-improvement techniques and positive thinking and apps that will help you get your shit together. By all means, publish work of value. But if you can’t find value in the original subject matter of your own publication, then maybe you’re working in the wrong place.

Sincerely,
Someone who has plenty of ideas, so feel free to hit me up if you need a little help.
x0

2 comments

  1. Damn. I don't read enough mags to have this problem, but it sure sounds like it suuucks. And yes, I love vanilla. I have a vanilla car freshener hanging above my bed in the most romantic way I can manage.

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    1. shoutout to tyra for the solid advice on that one.

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