A few months ago, I had the brakes on my car replaced. The process took a few hours, and my phone bores me quickly, so I checked their magazines.

The choices were car mags (which bore me more quickly than my phone) and a Redbook.

So I scanned the Redbook for a few minutes. Here’s my assessment of both the editorial and advertising content, broken into segments:

1. Hair care products or styling advice

2. Cosmetics

3. Fashion/clothing

4. Diet/weight loss

As I read I couldn’t help but think about what they were selling. “Your hair should be full and lustrous and have a certain cut. Here’s the make-up you should be using, because you need make-up, right? And you need to have this dress and handbag. And you could stand to lose a few pounds.”

It did have an article about how to work on your relationship, which is better than “50 Ways to Please Your Man.”

I guess I was wondering why they didn’t have content about education or reading or health (other than diet tips). I assume those topics are in other women’s magazines. But Redbook, like many others, is geared toward how to look pretty on the outside, presumably to attract or keep a mate.

I know there are men’s magazines like Esquire and GQ that put an emphasis on looking good, but they generally have interviews and discuss culturally relevant topics. And there are about 10 times as many women’s magazines as men’s.

And it’s always bugged me that the cosmetics industry is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. If every woman decided to simultaneously stop wearing makeup, we’d get over it.

Maybe Margaret Atwood sums it up best:

“Vanity is becoming a nuisance, I can see why women give it up, eventually. But I’m not ready for that yet.”

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