Things in Women’s Magazines that Make Me Stabby

Posted on
May 28, 2015

Sometimes, during our travels, I will purchase a fashion magazine at the airport. It’s a terrible idea: they’re expensive and they don’t make me feel good about myself, but for some reason, I keep buying them (note: this also applies to skinny jeans and ten-pack-passes to barre class. Sometimes it’s nice to pretend we’re something we aren’t).

I will read my glossy rag with an optimism that is in no way grounded in reality, hoping to find an article about how the new trend on the runways is a Streisand-esque nose, or how eating cake is good for you. I repeatedly strike out on those fronts, but once, I found a piece in Cosmo about how going braless was in vogue.

I immediately unhooked mine, pulled it out through the sleeve of my shirt, and flung it across our hotel room while yelling, “I AM FASHION.”

My husband was somewhat confused, but nevertheless appreciated the gesture. In hindsight, I suppose the article was targeting skinny girls with perky boobs, but I’ve always been egalitarian when it comes to eschewing lingerie.

Actual ad from one of my magazines. Giant sarcastic red letters are my own.

Letting the girls hang loose for an evening is probably the high point of my relationship with women’s magazines. I repeatedly blow $7 on a bound stack of pages that is mostly comprised of full-page spreads for products that make me want to stab someone in the eye, and the occasional advertorial about how the key to making any marriage work is effective depilation of everything below the waist.

The simple solution would be to stop buying these miserable manuscripts in the first place, but THEN what will I do when I’m at 30,000 feet and I’ve already finished my book and eaten all the loose Tic-Tacs at the bottom of my purse?

Besides, these magazines help me focus my anger, which worked really well for Luke in Return of the Jedi. As such, I have compiled a list of things that I come across on a regular basis in women-targeted magazines that make me particularly rageful.

My husband, I should note, was unaware of what half of these things even were.

  1. Thong underwear. I have been repeatedly told by magazines, television, movies, and the occasional well-intentioned but obviously insane friend that I am making a huge mistake by refusing to wear thong underwear. It eliminates panty lines, they argue, but I maintain that if you can see your underwear line through your clothes, then either 1.) your clothes are too tight, 2.) your clothes are too thin, or 3.) this isn’t actually a fucking problem because who cares? If men’s boxers are constantly visible over the top of their jeans, then human females should get to wear underwear that isn’t designed to be embedded between their butt cheeks.

    These were listed as “most wearable lingerie.” Which I find amusing.

    Plus, thongs increase your chance of bacterial infection and bacterial vaginosis. AN ARTICLE OF CLOTHING DOES THIS. Ultimately, though, what you wear to cover your bits is none of anyone’s business, right? So when I say I like full-coverage granny panties (and I do. Oh, how I do), it would be nice if people didn’t react as though I told them I club baby seals for fun.

  2. Latisse. Because the list of things that I should feel self-conscious about isn’t long enough, I apparently need to add “too thin eyelashes” to this list. While I can understand this being a treatment for a legitimate medical problem, Latisse is advertised like a beauty product. Except that, you know, if you get it in your eyes, IT WILL BLIND YOU.
  3.   Ads that are for … I don’t know, ennui? Vampirism?
  4. Spanx. A few years ago, an enterprising woman decided she wanted to embrace the circulation-inhibiting snugness of a control-top pantyhose without the warmth of the actual hose. So she cut the legs off a pair, and –voila– a new generation of corsets were born, making her a billionaire (and proving, once again, that we are our own worst enemies).
    Another one of those fashion products I’m repeatedly told I can’t live without, Spanx are sweaty, constricting, and make you feel like an overstuffed sausage without the added benefit of actually getting to eat any sausage. I wore a pair for approximately two hours on my wedding day before running to the bathroom, whipping them off, and tossing them across the room (apparently I tear off my underwear and fling it across the room a lot. I’m just realizing this now).
  5. Nudity without context. Look, as all my underwear-flinging-across-a-room suggests, I’m totally okay with showing some skin, especially if it makes sense in the context of the ad. But stuff like this makes my eye all twitchy, because I just can’t follow the narrative:
    Is there ever, ever a real-world scenario where you would be wearing designer clothes, clutching a several-thousand-dollar purse, and also inexplicably topless? I’m asking partially out of curiosity, and partially because it sounds like fun.
  6. Anything weight-loss-related. Because seriously, what the fuck.
  7. Ditto for anything that mentions a thigh gap. Wage gap? We can talk about that. Education gap? That deserves attention. But whether or not your thighs touch is not a useful barometer for anything unless you are a cat burglar who really wants to wear corduroy pants. When I mentioned it to my husband, the following discussion ensued:

    “Wait, what is it?”

    “It’s the gap that women are supposed to have between their thighs.”

    “Your thighs aren’t supposed to touch?”

    “Apparently not.”

    “How is that even possible? Like, are you supposed to stand with your feet together? Because there’s no way I can stand with my feet together and not have my thighs touch.”

    “I don’t know. But if I stand with my legs really far apart … ”

    (Cue us doing weird wide-legged walks in our dining room.)
  8. Ads that make me hungry even though they have nothing to do with food. This one is for a hotel, but now I want a cookie:

    Also, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that people this attractive don’t actually eat cookies.


  9. Anything that feels like it was originally pitched as a pastime for residents of The Capitol in The Hunger Games.

    Sorry, Bob, can’t talk now. I’m in my home library, using my designer leather purse as a feedbag for my stallion. Mondays, amirite?

    “I also draped him in more handbags because WHEEEEEE!!! MONEY!”


I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t note that amidst all the crap, there wasn’t occasionally something surprisingly delightful. Like when a prominent brand depicts a same-sex couple in one of their ads:

Granted, it’s still a bit tame, but whatever. Progress is progress.

It’s almost enough to justify me buying more magazines … right?

Leave a Comment

  • ShayneTilley

    Whilst the examples are different, I can say the same for every single magazine I no longer read (and that was a lot). Completely compromised editorials, more ads than content, a complete lack of moral compass on the ads they do and don’t run.

    Note: Mine were very different titles to read.

  • For #5, I picture some huge yacht in the Mediterranean, crashing a party, getting caught, and being unceremoniously kicked off…..No time to grab your shirt! LOL! It could happen 😉

  • did you see the article in the NYT about how grandma underwear about becoming trendy?

  • Becca

    Ugh thongs. If I hear one more woman tell me they wear them every day because they are so comfortable, I’m going to scream. Having a wedgie all day sounds just awesome. No. Nope.

    Oh and yes, I have worn them before. They suck.

    • mishypanic

      I couldn’t agree more.

    • mishypanic

      I couldn’t agree more! Anytime I wear one, I’m just concentrating on trying to pick it out of my butt when no one is looking.

  • Kim Burdett

    Hilarious. Thanks for writing this – I had to share on FB. 🙂

  • Ana Simões

    Yes, yes, yes, so much yes, god, I can’t even stop saying it, yes, yes, yes.
    (why do we buy these things, why?? I always end up beating myself for eating the damn veggie sandwich and orange juice while reading the stupid thing – I guess sky chef is NOT goop-approved.)

  • Jessica

    Yes, I love going bra-less! Congratulations on ripping yours off and flinging it across the room!

    • everywhereist

      Warning: they are not aerodynamic at all.

  • Now I’m dying to know if my husband knows what a thigh gap is…I’m asking him tonight!

    • everywhereist

      You are obligated to report back! Please!

      • Jessica

        I’m sad to say that years ago I learned what a thigh gap was from my husband.

  • I’ve very nearly learned my lesson and given up on women’s magazines. Instead, I pick up a terrible novel at the airport, and have a slightly different type of conniption.

    About Latisse, though….I’m *pretty* sure it won’t make you go blind. I’ve never heard of that, and now I really don’t want to Google it because I like my long eyelashes, and had planned on never torturing myself with mascara again.

    • Alice Morris

      Oh no, the small print on the commercial does say that it can blind you. Totally a legit claim!

      • everywhereist

        Yup. I saw this, too. I remember thinking, “What the hell? How can you not get it in your eyes?”

      • It was actually originally used as an eye drop to treat glaucoma, so there doesn’t seem to be anything inherently dangerous about putting it in your eyes, though there is a longer list of possible side effects when used as an eye drop. But if you’re applying it right, it’s just a small amount on the upper lash line. Not doubting that it’s in the advertising, but weirdly, I can’t find anything about blindness in the Latisse website warning.

        At any rate, it hasn’t caused anything more than minor irritation for me. I’m treating it the same way I do the warnings that my birth control might kill me with a blood clot (nevermind that this tiny risk is purely for vanity– err, I mean the very serious medical condition of insufficient lashes).

  • Yes! All of these reasons. Thongs are not comfortable, anyone who says they are is a liar. Unless of course they’re confusing the words comfortable with chaffing. I don’t need to say any more on that, I’m sure.

  • p.jaya
    • everywhereist

      Gasp, no! I am so excited that I am not alone in this.

      • p.jaya

        Definitely not. For the record, I am also not a fan of the thong.

  • Oh my word. I just sat in my office dying. Yes, yes, and yes. Hilarious. Haven’t ever tried spanx but the idea seems horrible – I’ll just stick with clothing that doesn’t require the use of those.

  • Elle-Rose Williams

    I nearly spat out my drink laughing at the Hunger Games reference. And now I’m gonna go on Netflix and binge myself on some sexy-Peeta-ness.

    On a side note, I actually really love Spanx. I find the feeling less sausagy than you described and more like a well wrapped, supportive burrito. You know?

  • I have tried to wear thongs on countless occasions throughout my 32 years and never make it so far as the bedroom door before the stiflingly uncomfortable wedgie causes me to throw them in the trash can in exchange for hipster underwear instead.

  • beth

    Feel like I totally have to defend thong underwear here. Wear them every frickin day – even while I was pregnant (twice). Find them completely comfortable, don’t notice I have them on and really believe it’s the other underwear that doesn’t stay where it’s supposed to.

    • KryptoBunny

      I’ve known multiple other women who love thongs and find them very comfortable, and I suspect that it’s a body shape thing — people have different amounts of butt cheek spread, as odd as that sounds! I don’t think the author is saying that you shouldn’t wear them if you love them, but there are some people who act like you need to wear them because of the panty lines thing, and that’s silly.

    • It’s definitely a personal preference thing! My roommate wears them everyday and says nothing else is comfortable, I can’t wear then as they always ride up and end up hurting my tailbone and I think they’ve actually given me an infection a time or so as the article stated they could :/ .

  • Theresa K

    Perhaps it was the discussion of bras and spanx that made FB point out that “people” also shared the bustier below. Or maybe you just make new moms giggle with delight. Based on experience, I’d pick the later. 🙂

  • You need to get your hands on WOMANKIND magazine – it’s a new Australian quarterly and it has NO ADVERTISING!! It also has no diets, no idiotic ’14 reasons to feel shit about yourself’ articles and it is so, so, so GOOD. Really smart writing, it’s beautifully presented and I’m a big fan. GET THEE WOMANKIND MAGAZINE!!

    • I know this comment was a year ago, but it caught my interest! What kind of articles are in there?? Do they have digital editions as well?

      • Hey Brenda, if you’re on Facebook you’ll find them there as well as dialling direct at their website They are also on Instagram @womankindmag.
        They just won an award for mags for 2015. If you like smart, thought provoking, beautifully art directed magazines, you will love Womankind.
        They have international versions now too, so you should be able to get your hands on one pretty easily.

  • paisleypenguin
  • Jill

    This gave me a much-needed laugh. Thanks for keeping it real, Geraldine. 🙂

  • Courtney Kramer

    Yes! Pass me the granny panties and cookies!

  • Glad to know I’m not the only sap who falls into this trap every. damn. time.

  • HA! Love it. Here’s to many more leg spreading, bra removing good times. x

  • Kristen

    I love this! Although I do have to say that I genuinely enjoy wearing a thong sometimes… They are comfortable if they fit right… On that note, I also love my granny panties!!

    • I wear thongs because they don’t make granny panties that actually fit my proportions. Somehow I always end up with a quad-butt.
      Or I just wear Spanx or similar. The key is to size up so you get support and coverage without compression.

  • Lev Raphael

    I always thought the Thigh Gap was something we had over the Soviets around the time of the Missile Gap. They had more missiles but our women’s thighs beat theirs.

  • Miserable manuscripts! Love it! I don’t remember the last time I bought one!

  • LonelyPilgrim

    Great post.. I especially enjoyed the “thigh gap” story because I had almost that EXACT SAME conversation with my husband about a month ago. Almost word-for-word. 🙂 I guess it is more proof that women are much harsher critics of women’s bodies than men are. My husband also professes not to really “get” high heels on women. I had to explain the whole “it’s not about how the shoe looks, it’s about how it makes you appear taller and it makes you stand differently so you feel skinnier”….

  • Maiasaura

    OMG, I am crying, I’m laughing so hard. Alone. This was great.

    • Maiasaura

      I can’t possibly buy the book when it comes out. I will wet myself.

  • The storyline on the context-less nudity is obviously a night of drunk sex followed by being shoved out into the hotel hallway without enough time to get dressed.

  • mishypanic

    My boyfriend always just asks: if you’re REALLY worried about panty lines why even bother with underwear? I’m beginning to think he’s onto something.

  • Laura Bennett

    Amen about the thongs, sister! Preach it!

  • Crystal

    Spanx are indeed ridiculously sweaty, *but* I have to credit them with reintroducing me to the idea of wearing proper undergarments. Until I bought my first pair of Spanx, I hadn’t worn a slip in 15 years. I was one of those people who thought of slips as things old ladies wore. Then it was like “Oh snap! Wearing the right clothes *under* your clothes actually makes them look better!” So now I have a full compliment of nylon/cotton/spandex whatnots for every occasion.

    Also, I think the Tylenol ads are spot-on. Unless you want them full-on making out, I’m not sure what’s unduly tame about them.

  • Atlas & Boots

    Ribs. It’s the ribs that make me shiver. Tiny, tiny women* stretching or lying in such a way that you can see their ribs protruding from their skin. This is not healthy or aspirational and it makes my throat feel oily that brands use this aesthetic to flog their wares.

    * I have nothing against tiny women. I am one of them but, really, the ribs thing is just unnecessary.

  • Hahaha, loved the article! I can definitely relate. Magazines are my guilty pleasure and I find myself shaking my head at them more times than not, but that is part of their appeal! It can be fun 😉 .

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