Promises, promises. Women's magazines are full of promises. Men's magazines are full of promises too, but at least they keep theirs. They promise you can see the girl on the cover naked inside, and you can. They promise to give you all the details on the performance of the Mazda 626, and they do.
But women's magazines like Cosmopolitan and Cleo promise much, much more: how to feel good about yourself, look great, be irresistible to a man, have fantastic sex and go places in your career. It's not simply that they can't keep these promises. It's that they don't want to.
Think about it. If these magazines really were successful in doing all they promised, women wouldn't keep buying them. After one issue, their lives would be so complete and they'd never need to buy another.
Ok, I admit it. I do buy women's magazines. I'm seduced by their promises, and read them from cover to cover, but somehow, afterwards, I always end up feeling unsatisfied, vaguely disappointed and a little depressed.
I never feel better about myself. In fact I feel worse. I can't think of a single in which my life has been improved by something I have read I one of them. And yet I keep buying them.
So what exactly is behind the cover of a typical women's magazine? Let me take you on a slightly twisted journey…
There's always some sort of article about loosing weight. 95 percent of women think they weigh too much - usually about three kilos too much.
The sad thing is that while they're walking down the street, inwardly cringing about the size, of their butt of thighs, men are thinking "Fwooarr!". If only they knew.
Diets are an ideal feature for a women's magazine because they always fail. New diets can appear virtually every issue, to give women new hope that they can loose those three kilos that they don't really need to loose.
The diets are supplemented by articles that tell women they can be as slim as they want to be if they really try - it all comes down to willpower. Genetics? Metabolism? Pah!
Dieting articles - like all articles in women's magazines, are always illustrated with pictures of standard- issue models, complete with eating disorders and breast implants, often posing in lingerie or skimpy clothes.
No matter what the words say, those skinny girls are always there staring at you. The article can be headed ""en love women with fat thighs", but there in the picture is a women with thighs the size pencils.
You think "If those are fat thighs, what does that make mine?"
The article can say "If you feel sexy, men will find you attractive, no matter how you look". You look at the stunning model in the picture and think "Well, if I looked like her, I'd be able to feel sexy."
Of course, ordinary models aren't enough. At least one of the Supermodels has to feature in every issue of every women's magazine, to rub in the fact that there are women out there who are beautiful, thin, rich, famous and having relationships with famous men.
I think if I see one more photo of Barbie (Claudia), Black Barbie (Naomi), Barbie With A Mole (Cindy) or Australian Barbie (Elle), I'll fall asleep. Call me bitchy, but I can't see how any person who spends an eight-hour working day pouting into a camera can have anything interesting to tell me.
As well as the tedious articles on the Supermodels' personal lives, we got the tantalising "Beauty Secrets of the Supermodels".
But these aren't the really interesting secrets, like where exactly in the back of your throat to place your finger to bring up that three-course meal.
"They're more like "I always carry a bottle of Evian water with me on international flights, and I spray my face with it just before I get off so I'm always looking fresh." I'm sorry, but if I sprayed my face with Evian water I wouldn't look like Elle Macpherson. I'd just look wet. But still I keep reading the articles… will I one day come across the beauty secrets that will make me into a model?
Then there's another one of history's biggest cons: fashion. Women think they need to keep up with fashion trends to be attractive, and they need to keep buying magazines to keep up with the trends.
Last season, the "in" length for skirts was knee-length. But as far as men are concerned, miniskirts can never truly go out of fashion. Or stockings. Or high heels. Or long hair. Or cleavage (yes, breasts were "out" for a while there, but they're back now).
If women's fashion isn't all about attracting men, what's it for? Selling clothes and magazines? Surely not.
And sex. A women's magazine isn't complete without an article claiming to tell you how to have the best sex you've ever had.
The articles are detailed and graphic, and don't shy away from sado-masochism, oral and anal sex. There's just one problem. They don't take into account that every person is different. The advice may be to stick your finger up your man's anus just as he's about to orgasm, but if digital anal penetration isn't really his cup of tea, you could end up putting him right off.
On the other hand, your man may be immensely turned on if you tuck one leg up underneath you and hop around the room, pretending to be an amputee, but how would the magazine know this?
Still, if your sex life is less than mindblowing, it's very tempting to buy a magazine which promises you "the best sex you've ever had".
The same goes for all those articles claiming to reveal what men really think. The men interviewed for these articles are obviously all pretending to be sensitive new age guys so they can impress the hot young female journalist who's writing the article.
The man all say things like "What really attracts me to a women is her laugh." So you find yourself reading an article written by a shallow poser, based on the thoughts of shallow posers, claiming to tell you what your man thinks. Right.
Oh yes, career advice. When writing about careers, the magazines write as if all readers are businesswomen, working on major accounts and in line for a promotion.
As if successful businesswomen would waist their time reading trash like this. In reality, most of the readers are checkout chicks who are going to loose their jobs when their eighteen, go out with some no-hoper, get pregnant, get dumped, spend the rest of their lives watching Days Of Our Lives, screaming at the kids, getting hooked on valium…sorry, I got a bit carried away there.
Look, just put me in the charge of one of these magazines for one issue. These are not the sort of articles I'd put in:
How to loose weight and keep it off: you can't.
How to look fantastic: don't stand next to a Supermodel in a bus queue.
What men find attractive: women.
How to have the best sex you've ever had: put this magazine down and go jump his bone.
How to feel better about your self: stop reading women's magazines.

Helen Vnuk


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