Glamour: Grade C
When I fly, I often get girly/womanly/fashionly magazines. Especially when I’m tired, it’s fun to flip through a magazine, read the advice columns and look at the pictures. In the last year or two, I’ve come to realize that what I’ve thought of as super-light barely-reading material is actually much more in the life of a fashionable woman. These magazine are the white-papers of the fashion world. They are the TED talks and Economist, all in one glossy package. The truly fashionable women study fashion very seriously, and invest a tremendous amount of mental energy and effort into keeping up with the latest advances in their areas of study. This is the need these magazines fulfill.
So you and I, in our desire to look like we care about fashion, had better at least read the Cliff notes version of the fashion magazines. (Note: my goal is to become your bullet-pointed, cliff-notes version. Unfortunately, that therefore requires me to read all these magazines cover to cover.)
So I have set myself a goal of reading one fashion magazine cover to cover every month. From this, I will give you two things:
1) What has changed in fashion since the last month
2) Which fashion magazine is least gag-worthy and most helpful, in case you decide you need to use primary sources
Up first was Glamour Magazine. I read it for two consecutive months – September and October 2012 – since one month is too small a sample size.
First, the upside:
- Glamour offers 282 pages of content (probably 50% of which is paid advertising)
- If you buy it at the airport (my usual M.O.), it costs $7.99, which is a mid-range price.
- Reading it will give you a good overview of the season’s fashions
- Contains some good outfit ideas, even if most are too edgy to be attempted by amatuers
- There were one or two half-hearted attempts at body-positive writing.
Now, the downsides:
- Glamour sells the sort of celebrity-centric, dumb-girl, how-to-get-the-guy kind of fashion writing that convinced me at an early age that fashion was not meant for me.
- Representations of minorities are minimal. There was Gabby Douglas, Michelle Obama, and one smart Amazon add. By far, most of the women represented are are light-skinned.
- Body type variation was also very limited. My jaw dropped when they considered it a legitimate question whether “The Birth of Venus” representation was too fat. Very few of their fashion suggestions were optimized for women with non-fashionable sizes.
- It was very catty. September’s involved Posh Spice as the editor. At one point she talked about how “realistic” and “authentic” another woman was, and you could just hear the poison seeping through the pages.
- I was very annoyed by the “Tee hee hee aren’t we stupid” affectation. This month, it was pretending that a fit man’s body might make our vocabulary desert women. Last month, it was carrying a hollowed out book as a purse in order to make us seem smart… which we would only want to do in order to attract dudes. UGH.
- Totally ageist. There was a skin care regimen by decade. The list of things 20 year olds were expected to do was appalling. But the advice stopped at 40, because dude. After that? You’d pretty much dead.
Conclusion: Buy if you’re really, really bored. But you can find better sources of fashion information, and gossipier, more fun columns. For the most part, don’t bother.