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.