Overlooking the tarmac of the Atlanta International airport the Queen and I were enjoying lunch perusing the most recent issue of 3rd Grade Today USA Today. As the daily usually does, in the bottom left corner on page one is their USA Today Snapshot. This day’s cartoon diagram depicted a woman looking into a hand-held mirror with the reflection of a pie chart indicating that 49% of American women don’t like what the see staring back at them. After reading, my first response was “it might be more realistic with a Cosmopolitan in her other hand”
A 2004 government report showed that more than 10% of women 18 and over were on some form of anti-depressant, while only 20% sought medical attention for what would clinically be diagnosed as depression (and they say men hate doctors). Not being gender biased, the same report showed 4% of men take the happy pill. It went on to suggest that women are five times more likely than their male counterparts to experience bouts depression in their lifetime with girls in their late teens and early 20’s being some of the most at-risk for struggling with depression.
Reading Cosmopolitan or Vogue makes about as much sense as a homeless man reading the Robb Report.
Even when taking into account fluctuating hormones, menopause, and PMS the evidence remains overwhelming that women are sadder than men. Which begs the question – why?
There is certainly evidence to support hormone change as an important factor yet this varies greatly between women. And as a plausible consequence of the feminist movement more women are now filling the role of homemaker and breadwinner and being stretched to the limit as a result. But is the preponderance of female depression forced upon by hormones and gender progress, or do afflicted women have a more significant role to play?
My daughter will be 10 years old next summer and I’ve began paying greater attention to those shiny objects that will soon vie for her attention. While today she remains enthralled with princesses and furry kittens I notice ever so slight inklings that her awareness is changing. She has gained a new fondness for tween television shows and her fashion sense is taking on a life of its own. People tell me I have nothing to worry about, but anytime I go to buy a gallon of milk my fears are two-fold reinforced.
Why is it that grocery stores, Target, Wal-Mart, and others merchants feel the necessity to display a cornucopia of weekly smut at her eye level? While the clerk scans my blueberries and toilet paper we are waylaid with images of airbrushed provocatively dressed women surrounded with tagline pledges of flatter tummies, brilliant hair, and more brilliant sex. Though the cover may be different, each publication sends the same message
“you’re not hot enough or laid enough, but we can help.”
Just last week, the latest issues of two popular women’s health magazines both guaranteed to have the secret for firmer shapely arms. One asserted it could be done in “three easy moves” while other was even more confident pledging to have “the only 5 arm moves you’ll ever need!” I now understand why so many women walk into the gym with a deer-in-headlights look in their eyes thoroughly confused and exceedingly frustrated at their lack of results – when it’s been peddled to them as being so easy.
Then there are my personal favorites, those lovely monthlies called the ‘women’s magazine’. If there has ever been a more perfect illustration for ‘over promise, under deliver’ I haven’t found it. The government has entire buildings filled with people combating these types of marketing tactics. Just have a read at some of this snake oil.
“How to outsmart a Bitch”
“The sexy confidence men can’t resist”
“Badass moves that involve a naughty you’ll both love”
“Look leaner naked in 14 moves”
“Eat pasta, lose weight”
“Drop 10 pounds in 30 days”
“Ditch the guilt, eat that cake and still lose weight”
“Should you be pregnant by now?”
“Naughty answers to your most private questions”
“His 6 secret sex spots”
“Naughty thoughts he has at work”
Hustler has less sex talk than this trash does and did I mention this is in the grocery store checkout line?
Here’s where I need help to understanding, what is it about these magazines that is so appealing to women? Where does the draw come from for photo-shopped bodies, mind-numbing ads, and perfume samples strong enough to singe nasal hairs? In my humble opinion, reading Cosmopolitan or Vogue makes about as much sense for women as it does a homeless man looking at the Robb Report.
I’m convinced the effects of these types magazines on women are little different than the way pornography affects men. There is no escapism in Glamour or Vanity Fair only frustration, confusion, and dissatisfaction with at every turn of the page. Looking at the images of enhanced bodies and suddenly you question your own or reading featured stories of multi-million dollar weddings and yours becomes less than stellar. And as a side bar, I think it’s absolutely hysterical that People magazine spent $1.5 million for the exclusive rights to she-who-can-not-be-name’s wedding and the marriage ended in 72 days.
Which segues to arguably the worst publication of all – celebrity magazines. There are only two kids of people who care whatsoever if Brad want’s Jen back – women and gay men. These magazines are societally acceptable voyeurism that my entertainment threshold simply doesn’t allow, but it does make for excellent blog fodder. Why so many intensley follow the lives of celebrities who, given the opportunity, wouldn’t spit on me if I was on fire is astonishing. The cultural obsession with celebertism always reminds me of an interview with Bill Cosby in the height of his television career in the 80’s.
Wrapping up the interview, the reporter asks,
Bill, what is your favorite television show?
I don’t watch TV! Cosby shoots back, almost put off by the question.
“What do you mean Mr. Cosby?” The reporter replies. “You’re the biggest TV star in the world and you don’t watch TV? How is that?”
And in his Bill Cosby Jell-O pudding eating way, he responds.
“Why would I want to watch someone else living their dream?”