I love magazines. But I do prefer them to actually have some content. That’s not too much to ask as a paying customer, is it? I personally believe that they should have writers rather than just a giant wallet, ready to pay paparazzi for photos of ‘celebrities’ on holiday.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the value of a good photograph and would never suggest a magazine do away with them. It’s just that when you have a magazine that is essentially dominated by nothing but images, it’s not money well spent when you’ve scanned it cover to cover in 47 seconds.
Like most teenagers, I went through the ‘obsessed with celebrity culture’ stage. I’d fork out on all the magazines that made me aspire to become famous and emaciated, just so I could have OK and HELLO magazine fight over the rights to my wedding. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I was spending a significant majority of my disposable income (as a fourteen year old) on visual imagery that did nothing but make me feel bad about myself.
It’s dangerous to expose vulnerable teenagers to articles where the limited word count is dedicated entirely to accompanying photographs, explaining: ‘Skinny and rich = good. Fat or unattractive = bad’. Secondary school is enough of an ordeal for young girls to tackle through puberty, let alone the pressure of being a failure if you don’t have abs, long legs, a celebrity boyfriend and veneers.
The final straw for me was when I was flicking through a magazine and came across a double page spread of one image: Paris Hilton’s toe. The caption (the only words on the page) articulately crafted, probably by a reasonably paid editor, read ‘Paris Hilton’s freaky feet!’ As a writer, I know all to well how valuable a page is. Fill it with words, fill it with photographs of something beautiful, shocking, inspiring, thought-provoking, something of value. But a gangly foot is simply a bad return on the investment that I made on that magazine! Dedicating a double page spread to the foot of a hotel heiress is just an insult to humankind! It’s basically making the statement that there are all these amazingly talented and inspiring people out there, but we are using up two whole pages worth of space, to displaying the weird toes of some bimbo because she’s a multi-millionaire and made a sex tape.
In many ways I was lucky that I had to go out and actively purchase a magazine to be exposed to it. Nowadays there is literally no avoiding the media. Twitter, facebook, google +, pinterest… the list goes on! Social media has not only given us direct access to them, but the saturated and vast market has created a whole new subculture of people who come under the ‘celebrity’ banner . People who have absolutely no right to the title. I can cope with sub-standard pop stars making the cover, people off the tele, even if you think they’re rubbish – at least they’re working. But big brother contestants, reality TV wannabees and socialites? Come on, now. It’s as polluting to our culture as a book titled ‘Bulimia for Dummies’!
I have since deleted the Daily Mail online app from my phone as it has essentially become the online adult equivalent of the magazines that caused so much teenage angst. Have you actually ever read anything on there? I think they get away with it because we’re too busy searching for cellulite on the arse of someone who, depending on the relationship between their PR manager and the editor, we are conditioned to love or to hate totally depending on what caption they decide to use. Sentences go unfinished. Whole articles are copied and pasted, but disjointedly in amongst others, making absolutely no sense. There are spelling mistakes! This is a publication that goes out to the masses and it’s encouraging people not to even bother reading it… just to look at the flesh they’ve got splattered all over the screen.
I encourage everyone to take a stand. Don’t be influenced. Don’t spend your money on rubbish. Invest in publications that celebrate real people and have something to say. Words that you can actually read. Whether that’s about fitness, fashion, food, even celebrities (the proper ones that have done more than sell an exposé or appeared on Geordie Shore) anything! These publications thrive on a hungry and impressionable youth to continue to look up to a lifestyle and body image that is unattainable. Don’t be fooled!