The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

18 January 2010

Integrity factor

Magazines are an enjoyable luxury, aren't they? They can be costly, but the glossy paper, the photography, the varied articles, the specialized genres make for a wonderful hour's indulgence on the couch in the quiet of an evening or a rainy afternoon. There is something out there for every taste, from macrame or triathlons to pizzeria proprietors or cigar aficionados. I'm partial to interior design but almost anything can grab my attention if the cover is enticing enough.

Which is how I came to bring home a few issues of random mags from my wonderful local public library (let's hear a hoorah for public libraries: Hoorah!) and how I was misled and cheated by those enticing covers. I will be addressing issues I have with two of those magazines.

Case #1.
The magazine from America's favourite talk show maven. You know who I mean. Her motto is "Live your best life" and on this particular cover she promises advice on how to: protect your money; look great for less; dial down your stress; and, a simple plan for weight loss among a few other topics. The main thrust of this issue is how to put yourself back on your list of priorities, and boost the quality of your life.
All good stuff, but I was most interested in an article titled Back to basics which is given seven pages of expensive magazine glossy real estate. It addresses the voluntary simplicity movement, which embraces less consumer activity, smaller, simpler homes, and quieter lifestyles etc. People embrace voluntary simplicity to reduce stress, and many do so for financial reasons. This particular article focuses on the monetary angle, discussing several families who had suffered financial hardship, and had no choice but to downsize their lives.
And what follows this article? One called The Great pantry makeover, in which reader is advised to overhaul her larder and stock such things as Spanish tuna, Italian tomato puree, and North African chili paste. I'm sure these are no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I wonder if editors consider the conflicting message they send when they juxtapose such different stories.

Case #2.
One of the gold standards in fashion magazines. (ie. Schmogue) This issue features a young Canadian actress I happen to like on the cover, and also prominently trumpets an article with these words: "When size 4 is too big. A curvy model's struggle to fit in." Which to me sounded like it would be interesting. Weight and body image have been hot topics in fashion for the past few years, and it's good to check in every now and then to see where everyone's at. Size 4 doesn't sound shockingly big to me, but then you won't find me on the catwalks of Milan or Paris, so what do I know? Which makes my point, if you follow me: a model struggling against type in her chosen career because she is a size 4, whose womanly shape has inspired many influential designers but still not caused them to alter the status quo. This lends itself to thoughtful discourse, references to other successful models who have gone against type, investigating the evolution of the fashion model, impact on health among models to maintain the industry standard size and shape... etc.
The article appears on page 32, and continues on page 40. It includes several pictures of the girl, and is a brief biography of her climb to the top. That's it. Not two pages worth of text. And what do we find on pages 33 - 39? A two-page spread on winter boots, a four-page spread of a line of hair products and an advertisement for skin cream. Do you see? Four pages dedicated to shampoo while the important issues of body image, health, and cultural norms was confined to two.

Something to think about.

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