I was in the grocery store the other day, waiting in line, and my eyes scanned the cover of some women’s magazine: “Tone Every Inch!” “Lose Weight, Feel Great!” And I got mad. Really? That’s all it would take to make me feel great—losing weight? How about the fact that it’s been over 100 degrees outside for the past umpteen days, so my greatest stress-reliever—spending time outside—is not available to me? Or how about the fact that I’m living in professional limbo, not sure if I’m going to have a job in November? You think that might be contributing to my not feeling so great? Or how about the fact that I haven’t had a vacation in eight months? Perhaps I’m constantly stressed because I work all the time?
But oh, if only I could lose some weight, I’d feel so much better!
Women’s magazines drive me absolutely insane. It’s not that I hate them unconditionally; I did have a subscription to Self for a long time, and I occasionally buy issues of Shape if I’m curious about an article or a special feature. I have a few work-outs from Self that I’ve saved from old issues—an 18-minute cardio/strength circuit, a yoga-for-abs work-out. But I hate how I see these magazines marketing themselves to women: ladies, you need improvement! Come on, buy this magazine, get tighter abs, and your life will be so much better! Oh, and your sex life will improve too!
I may be one of those rare women who is really happy with her body, despite my short torso and ample junk in the trunk. My body and I get along well: I treat it well, and it carries me loyally through all my adventures. I have pretty healthy habits, and I’m definitely an advocate of taking care of one’s health and appearance. But I hate going to the grocery store and being pelted with messages about improving my body. I would love to do my food shopping without seeing images of women in bikinis. Even though I am very happy with my body, it’s hard for me to see those photos without thinking, Yeah, I don’t look like that in a bikini. And perhaps there’s a tiny part of me that feels like she should look like that.
I no longer subscribe to any women’s magazines because I grew tired of all the messages about losing weight and getting fit. They were messages that no longer appealed to me. I knew I didn’t need to lose weight. I was already active, working out and enjoying habits that kept me healthy, like walking a lot. But I’m not immune to those societal messages about a woman’s appearance. Despite the arguments about how it’s about health now, deep down inside I can’t help but believe that it’s still about appearances and being pretty. And for me, right now, with all the stress and anxiety I’m carrying around, I just want to tell those magazines to kindly fuck off and leave me alone.