Life in the magazines


I only get one magazine: Southern Living. I used to get others (Better Homes and Gardens, Living, Victoria), but I got rid of them one by one. [I’d probably get Victoria again because I only stopped getting it when they stopped the magazine (temporarily as it turned out).] I like the recipes, I like the decorating ideas, I like having something to read. But magazines are weird.

They’ll tout something like “simple living” and show a room full of “simple” things that cost an arm and a leg. They’ll show a house that purports to be “authentically antique” full of things the designer/decorator found at auction, on the side of the road (in Virginia, of course), or in the home-owner’s third home. The house itself is a recreation of an old design and cost a bundle. They’ll show a house that’s “green”, full of energy-saving devices, reclaimed wood, etc., but it’s on a small island off the east coast and everything had to be brought across by ferry to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

The featured dinner parties, barbecues, crab boils, etc., are attended by nicely dressed people in their late thirties to forties who do not have children (or whose children must be home with the nanny). Any parties that show children feature three at most (for all of the guests) and they are treated as fashion accessories.

They tout “flirting at work” as good for your career and include articles which mean that you’d better not leave those magazines around for your children to find. “Look sexy at any age” is a frequent cover story. [Let me tell you: when I’m 65, “sexy” had better not describe my “look”.]

Let’s just say that these magazines do not reflect real life.

“Simple Living” means living with what you have, making do, or doing without. “Authentically antique homes” feature doorknobs that stick, drafty windows and very few closets. “Green” means a clothesline in the backyard, bathing children in batches and letting your yard turn brown when it doesn’t rain. And if you flirt at work (God forbid), you’re probably going to get what you deserve.

I guess it comes down to what life is supposed to be. Is it supposed to be about impressing people, having the “right” things, buying extravagantly, winning “home of the year” contests and constantly feeling discontented? Or is it supposed to be about having humility, raising children, saving your soul and glorifying God?

13 thoughts on “Life in the magazines

  1. this would be the reason I don't get these magazines I think… it is very true, what you are saying. there is nothing 'real simple' in that magazine or in the others. they are just trying to get one to succumb to a materialism that is not only not helpful but can make one feel false guilt for having a life that can never match what they are trying to sell one as reality. HUGS, reality is better!!

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  2. Yes, I just let my Real Simple subscription lapse. I like the recipes a lot, the photos are pretty, and the organization tips are often good, but the prices and lifestyle articles make me angry. šŸ™‚

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  3. The reason is that magazines exist to sell you that look on behalf of their advertisers. If they don't sell, their advertisers don't advertise, and there is no magazine. I guess that makes ad-free blogs something like the magazine equivalent of public TV and public radio.

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  4. I decided a while back never to advertise on this blog. I figure if I see something absolutely awesome that I think everyone would like, I'll just say something about it and it would be my own, unpaid opinion. I've had multiple offers to feature something in return for free products.

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  5. Victoria is the only magazine I subscribe to, and it's one I feel ok with letting Elizabeth look through, too. I don't get to travel much/at all, and I don't have the time, money, space or inclination to fill my home with the pretty things they show, but seeing it in this particular magazine doesn't make me discontent. I think that's key. I enjoy getting to see the pretties, and travel vicariously to different locations. And I like the seasonal ideas and recipes. If it was making me discontent with my situation I wouldn't keep renewing my subscription.

    Otherwise, I totally understand what you mean. It seems like much of the magazine business, whether home or fashion oriented, is meant to make you feel like you're doing things wrong or to make you feel discontent with your situation.

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  6. Exactly why I don't subscribe to magazine's… they cause discontentment and the ever wanting or 'needing' to update you, your home, your wardrobe… your kids… how about your love life!

    Beware, without meaning to, some blogs may have that affect too… if you let them. šŸ˜‰

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  7. awesome! especially the sexy at 65 part!! i get Mother Earth News, which is full of so many good tips and money saving ideas that i feel like it paid for itself. nothing sexy about composting toilets!

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