I contain multitudes!*

I recently mentioned that I often don’t enjoy the publications geared to my demographic.

Which is what? You may ask.

I think that, in terms of advertising, my demographic is probably this (though I’m sure an advertising professional would put the following in a different order):

  1. Upper middle class
  2. Highly educated
  3. 45 years old
  4. Female
  5. Married mother of two
  6. White
  7. Suburban

The cover lines just write themselves, don’t they?

Here are some of the things that More thinks will interest me: “Get Sharon Stone’s Body”; “Shirtless Stars We Love”; “MORE talks with Jennifer Aniston’s Trainer”; “How Not to Act Old at the Beach.”

How about Oprah? “Can You Choose to be Happy?”; “What Makes a Picky Eater So Picky”; “What the Heck’s a Vision Board – and How Can It Change Your Life?”; “Adam’s Ten Swimsuit Commandments.”

Good Housekeeping? “Red, White… and Fun! Easy decor ideas, menus, and more for July 4!”; “Bows Are Back: See how this season’s fashion trend makes a statement without being girlish”; “Get a Flat Belly – Fast!”

Oh.My.GOD. So much do not want.

Well, ok, I’ll probably click on the picky eater thing when I’m done here, but other than that? Literally nothing on the front pages of any of these magazines’ websites interests me in the least. Occasionally I’ll still pick up a Glamour or Marie Claire, even more infrequently a Vogue — the first, occasionally, tries to discuss body image issues honestly; the second, occasionally, discusses serious geo-political concerns; the last, occasionally, achieves a freakish beauty — but even here, I think I’ve already strayed beyond my demographic. Aren’t I too old and/or too non-fabulously wealthy for these publications?

What do I want to read about? Rock n’ roll, interesting actors of all genders and genres, the direct impact of policies and politics on lives lived in America and other places around the globe, men and women about whom I am likely to hear little but who have led fascinating lives, parenting without the whipped-up angst and/or faux-cute of parenting magazines, a little bit of fashion (with the attitude that fashion should be fun, and clothes are to serve the body, not the body clothes), serious (not hysterical, not dismissive) consideration of the impact of striving for society’s professed physical ideals, enthusiastic consideration of new gadgets, new trends, new artistic visions. Maybe some history and/or archeology. I would like the writing to be sharp, the humor genuine, and the affection and respect for the reading audience palpable, please.

In short, I think I want something that combines the best of GQ, Entertainment Weekly, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and The Economist, with a dollop of Rolling Stone and a smidge of Nylon (with fewer faux-industrial locales). Please. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

In lieu of that, I would be really grateful if the outlets that supposedly serve me and mine would at least occasionally acknowledge that a woman of my age and social position might be interested in something from the above list. Anything?

I can see it now: “Our Favorite Shirtless Rock Stars Cook a Feast for the Homeless and Choose to Be Happy While Doing So!”



*Or, as I put it once at Ta-Nehisi’s place (at The Atlantic!): “I contain multitudes, motherfuckers!”


  1. carlosthedwarf

     /  June 14, 2010

    This is one of the most exuberant and self-confident pieces of writing I’ve read in a long time. It’s a lot of fun to read!

  2. you are making me miss Mirabella

  3. I figure those mags are edited by the same people who brought me Seventeen and Glamour — DO NOT WANT more of this as I hit my mid-40’s. Talk about talking to me like I’m stupid!

  4. ee, Have you ever checked out the Canadian mag Chatelaine? It’s sort of the grand old dame of Canadian women’s/lifestyle mags, and while I believe it’s gone downhill a bit in recent years, it has a reputation for solid writing, a good mix of content, and, you know, actually giving women credit for wanting to think and read the work of thinkers.

    The state of women’s mags is a source of frequent dismay to me. Jane was a bright spot, RIP.

  5. I agree with you. I don’t read magazines at all because I can’t find any that fit my interests–then again, I stopped reading any of the typical women’s magazines (Cosmo was the offender) after I read one article on how to reassure your man that size wasn’t everything. That wasn’t the offending part; this was. The next article I read was about how you can make your breasts look bigger by sitting/lying/standing in certain ways. The stark contrast just exploded my brain, and I haven’t picked up a fashion magazine since.

    My interests: Sports, politics, ethical issues, interpersonal relations, sex, the human psyche and the frailties of said psyche, Alan Rickman, tai chi, writing, reading (mostly murder mysteries), being contrary to popular beliefs, foreign flicks, food, and animals. That’s the short list. I know there is no niche for me, and I’ve given up hoping there ever will be.

  6. Added comment: I used to read Bitch and Bust semi-regularly, but the lack of diversity really bothered me. Oh yeah. Throw that onto the list–diversity. That’s important to me as well.

  7. Persia

     /  June 15, 2010

    Times like this I, once again, wish there’d ever been a Sassy for grown-ups. Bust was okay until they got sold (though they were never great on the diversity front, IMO they were better) and now…meh.

  8. sue swartz

     /  June 15, 2010

    I’m with you, my friend. There must be a magazine out there for women over 45 who fantasize about Jon Stewart & Angelina Jolie, have existential yearnings, deep politics, love food & bad language & an occasional gossipy article on interesting people we’ll never be. Kinda like People magazine for lefties. With existential angst thrown in for good measure. Oh well.

  9. SiubhanDuinne

     /  June 15, 2010

    @ajw93: I liked *Mirabella* too, as well as *Mode* and *Lear’s*. They’re all gone now. They all did fashion/beauty stuff but used real women, or at least models who resembled real women. And one way or another they all got, and conveyed, that while most of us like to look our best, very few of us want to obsess about our appearance and even fewer of us want to spend the day in tight clothes or cripplingly-high heels.

    And good articles: inspiring without resorting to vision boards.

  10. Pretty much sums up why I don’t read any magazines, aside from flipping through them in waiting rooms and turning to my Kindle app instead.

    I have long grumbled over the blatantly mixed messages on the mags at the grocery checkout; every cover has a new diet and a picture of a food you won’t be allowed to have on that diet. Crushing our self-esteem and triggering self-sacrifice… good work, women’s magazine cover!

  11. Russell King

     /  February 18, 2011

    Ah, the curse of being intellectual, deep and self aware! Mass-market magazines are not meant for people who think in compound sentences. There are not enough of you to comprise a market. I think, however, your fantasy publication would find a nice little niche — why not start it up? You sort of already are, here at your blog.

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