A college-student friend of mine was visiting me and left me her subscription copy of People magazine. I’ve not looked at People magazine in years, and only in a doctor’s office waiting room, so I was curious about it. This was the August 2012 issue, which of course, was published in July.
The first thing that impressed me was that it was 182 pages. It is much bigger than either of my monthly magazines, National Geographic and Discover. But then the monthly magazines I subscribe to actually have some intellectual content. People magazine sold 3,569,811 magazines in 2011 and it is 100% advertising, packed with photos of female models and a few male models. This particular issue contained 242 photos of women displaying fashion items or promoting some item of clothing or makeup. (I subsequently discovered that it was the "Style Watch" issue, but I still have the same concerns.)
After looking at the first 13 pages of nothing but ads, I found a table of contents on page 14. There were only seven items. To call them “articles” would be misleading. Each was one or two pages of photos of models featuring some new trend, fashion, clothing, shoes, or cosmetics.
What concerns me is the question of what motivates over three and a half million women (and a few weird men) to subscribe to a magazine that does nothing but advertise clothes and beauty products. Has our society really become this obsessed with fashion? While I’m worrying about what’s happening in the Middle East, Washington, and global warming, a disturbingly high percentage of people seem to be worried about the latest popular shade of lipstick.
I’ve never been a slave to fashion, as my friends are quick to point out. As I write this I’m wearing a shirt with a picture of Jesus on it. Below the picture it says, “Jesus loves you, but everyone else thinks you’re and asshole.” Now I think my shirt is even more appropriate.