Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Media, Magazines, and Me

I have an on-again, off-again love affair with women's magazines. It's well-documented throughout this blog, if you care to take a look. For example, after swearing off the book as an overrated, grown-up version of Seventeen, I bought a copy of Cosmopolitan this weekend (for research, though) and actually enjoyed flipping through it. Yes, there are much better ways to feed my mind, but sometimes it feels good to get lost in a trashy romance novel (see Cosmo's red-hot read section) or take a silly quiz about your commitment style.

[This is the issue I bought, and it rocks]

I recently listened to an old episode of Fresh Air on NPR that featured Zadie Smith. Being a literary novelist, one wouldn't expect her to be all that keen on non-news magazines, and she wasn't. She said something that struck me and stayed with me:

[Zadie Smith, author of novels like White Teeth and On Beauty]

I was glad there were no magazines for black women when I was a kid because I didn't want to read that stuff. And when I do read a lot of magazines about women I just feel very depressed and very alienated and very sad...The idea of being publicly represented, even though it was a big idea in the 80s and 90s, I think every representation is a generalization. I'd rather be my particular weirdo self than have a magazine called, I don't know, Mixed-Race Girls. I'd just rather be my own mixed-race girl, I don't really want advice on how to be a mixed-race girl.

Keep in mind that she's British, so maybe she wasn't aware of magazines like Essence or Honey when she was a teen or young adult. But I've never really been able to sum up what bothers me about women's magazines until I heard her say "I don't really want advice on how to be a mixed-race girl." I've hinted that all the self-help tips annoy me, but that seems like a really succinct way to say that most lifestyle content is about being better in some way, which is always a disaster.

Also keep in mind that I pen lifestyle content for a living, so I may be biased.

-- Whitney

1 comment:

Britt said...

I LIKE being told I am inadequate. Yea buddy! Lol.