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Why I stopped buying women’s magazines

Maybe the title of this post is a little bit ‘link baity’ (just call me Buzzfeed, y’all!). Maybe I’ve made it sound a bit more dramra-rama than it actually is.

This isn’t a kiss ‘n’ tell style bitch-fest based on my previous employment at Cosmopolitan. It’s not about the people behind the magazines, but this is personal. As in, I personally just don’t seem to buy women’s magazines anymore.

Nor am I here to talk about the more widespread and common concerns about the content of women’s mags; how they airbrush already thin models yet tell you to ’embrace’ your curves all in the same issue. That’s not really my, er, issue, either. Not for the purposes of this particular post, anyway.

Nope, it’s more that I currently seem to be on a sort of magazine-buying limbo. But it wasn’t always like this *cue flashback scene*

In my tweens, teens and early twenties I used to be a proper magazine junkie. From Sugar to Shout, Mizz to My Guy to Just Seventeen, Jackie and loads more that I’ve probably forgotten, I’d devour each issue in one sitting, gleaning fashion and beauty advice and getting a sneaky glimpse at shocking sex tips from their glossy printed pages. When you’re aged 13, is there anything cooler than reading a magazine aimed at a sassy 17-year-old? I think not. Call it the Judy Blume ‘Forever’ effect, but you always age up when you’re growing up, desperate to enter the mysterious world of adulthood.

But lately, my life is very much magazine-free. In fact there is only one magazine I buy with any sort of regularity now and that, my friends, is Psychologies. I know, I know, I was also initially unsure, when  it was recommended to me, no less, on a press trip, by another journo, with everyone else readily admitting it was also their favourite read. If you enjoy more in-depth articles about love, life and wellbeing, you should totally give it a whirl (and I’m totally not being paid to say that). Red is the only other magazine that ‘floats my boat’.

In fact, the last time I bought a trashy celebrity magazine, I actually felt a bit dirty and cheap. Like I’d had a nasty one-night stand and needed to douse myself in Dettol afterwards. So here’s why I think my magazine-buying days might well be over…


I’ve worked in the industry
Despite my earlier disclaimer, I know how it works. Maybe I’ve seen too much. Maybe it’s like Christmas never quite being the same again once you know Santa is actually your dad. I think some of the allure of buying magazines when I was younger was in part fulfilling my desire to one day write for them. Now that I’ve done that, and I didn’t actually enjoy it all that much, maybe it’s taken away some of the shine of so-called ‘glossy’ magazines. Maybe.

I’m caught in the (magazine) middle
I remember the ol’ saying at Hearst used to be that the progressive reader journey was Company {RIP} > Cosmopolitan > Red > Good Housekeeping. And, as it goes, Red is really rather good, and my peers also agree. However, I still don’t feel loyally compelled to buy it with any regularity, where as I used to subscribe to all and sundry like a BADASS back in the day.

So, at the ripe ol’ age of 34, I feel like I’m in a sort of magazine limbo. I find the magazines targeting women in their thirties or older seem to be aimed at mothers (or grandmothers), yet sometimes flipping through the likes of, say, ASOS magazine (which I get by default, as a Premier customer), makes me feel old, in a ‘if-you-don’t-like-crop-tops-and-creepers-you’re-out’ kind of way. If I’m in need of fashion inspiration, I’ll turn to Instagram, where I’m essentially following those who most closely represent my sense of style, but I’m also at a place (OK, fine, ‘AGE’) where I’m confident about my style so don’t need to be dictated to in the way that glossies seem to do *puts fingers up, blows raspberry*

Weeklies don’t cut it anymore
I worry about weeklies, really I do. They’re out of date pretty much the minute they’re published, in terms of celebrity news or events. Yet I’m not interested in celebrities or looking like them. I actually find celebrity gossip quite ‘cheap’ – it’s childish and mean. In fact, it’s borderline bullying, as more often than not, it centres around judging a person’s appearance. I’m not really about that any more.

Weekly mags just don’t offer value for money, when you can get your ‘fix’ of much of the stuff they’re peddling for free online anyway, if that sort of thing floats your boat. I do have a soft spot for Grazia, still. I remember getting my hands on the first sampler issue TEN YEARS AGO and thinking it was amazing. But maybe that’s it; that was ten years ago. I was *sob* 24 then. If I was trying to end a relationship with Grazia, I’d be saying: “It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve changed.” What I think really needs to change is the business model of print magazines – especially weeklies – before it’s too late.

I don’t care about cover stars
These usually have more to do with who’s available, who the magazine can afford, or which celebrities will say yes (and they can actually be quite discerning, you know). And the last time a magazine’s cover swayed my decision on whether to buy or not, was probably circa 1993 and involved Take That, stickers and Smash Hits. Cover stars seem pretty passé in this day and age, especially when celebrities are so accessible, thanks to the social mediarghs. And it always seems to be the same ol’ faces.

I won’t be swayed by shopping pages
I can safely say, since stopping buying women’s magazines, I buy less in general. Not only that, but I actually want less; I covet less. When I was working in the industry, writing about all the latest styles landing new in store every week, and being in such close proximity to Oxford Street, I used to spend what little money I had, trying to satisfy some sort of need I could never quite quash. I wanted ALL THE THINGS. And to be told what ALL THE THINGS WERE. And to BUY ALL THE THINGS. Now, put simply, I don’t.

Also, nothing pisses me off more than to turn to a ‘weekly lust list’ style feature and see 25 items all costing £500 and up. WTF? Despite my disgust, my disposable income is bigger now than ever before and, like a lot of my peers, I’m unmarried and/or child-free, so my moolah is there to be spent. Just not on cheapo peplum dresses and platform shoes. These days I like to splurge on Hetty hoovers, holidays and spiralisers, HELL YEAH.

Too many ads
Look, I know how it works, right? I know mags have to sell advertising in order to pay their way, blah blah blah, but still. I’d click straight out of a website if it was that spammy. And many of the fashion features are then centred around convincing you to buy into this ‘aspirational’ lifestyle and these ‘luxury’ products that you can’t actually afford. In fact, the people responsible for these pages can’t afford them either {insert monkey covering mouth emoji here}

Not enough words
I want to read more meaty features. And by that, I don’t mean: “I SLEPT WITH THE NEIGHBOUR’S DOG” or some stupid weight-loss story or ‘celebrity column’ crap. I want to read well-written, enlightening features by relatable, intelligent and engaging women who have lived a little. In fact, the same sort of content I already consume online, on my favourite blogs. Oh.


So yeah. Apart from Psychologies, I’ve been magazine-less in my life for a while and you know what? I’m actually OK with that. I’m certainly saving a small fortune – and the planet! – with the lack of mags I’m picking up (and storing – why did I used to insist on keeping them all?!). But I do think there is a massive untapped market for a decent magazine catering to the late twenties/*cough* early thirties market. Do you agree? Which magazines, if any, do you buy these days? Do you even care? TELL ME I’M NOT ALONE.



  • Comments

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    You’re not alone!
    I’m 24 and I feel the same way. I bought a pack of magazines for a train journey and they were all full of similar and extremely dull non-stories about reality tv stars, from the Kardashians to TOWIE and I have never watched any of these shows – like yourself I have no interest in celebs, so not sure why I keep buying them for train journeys. The bitchiness of some mags also hit me – the one beginning with ‘H’ that comes out every week especially… I felt really embarrassed reading them on the train – and I binned them straight after reading.
    For the return journey, struggling to choose a magazine, I bought a book called ‘Question Everything’ by New Scientist – interesting read!

  • avatar

    I couldn’t agree more!! I still occasionally buy Vogue/Elle but generally its the collections issues – other than that I haven’t bought a magazine in years. And boy did I buy them! By the tonne in fact, and I still have them. All of them). I loved Heat in the days before the Mailonline’s ‘sidebar of shame’ but stopped buying it when they resorted to swearing – something that doesn’t sit right with me in a print mag. And Grazia, poor old Grazia. When it came out it was like Christmas! A weekly glossy for a quid (back then anyway) and decent content. But now, like you say, it’s embarrassingly out of date the second it’s printed. There is defo a gap for us in our early thirties but still not sure I would commit my cash to print copy. Anyway, I spend all my precious spare time on Instagram, so doubt I would get round to reading it!

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