Lately I’ve become one of those women who shuns fashion magazines. I never found myself that humorless in the past, and felt comfortable enough with my weight/body image to read them and not feel outclassed. But lately I’ve found them so depressing and repetitive, and I feel a need to review their various offerings  and modalities, if anything as a WARNING.

Glamour/Marie Claire-This one, even back in the day of buying the mags, was one I shunned. Their target/idealized girl is 28, in a steady long term relationship, in entry level to middling corporate track. She has two best friends, Ashley and Stace, and she goes out with them on Friday nights and stays with the boy (Eric? Matt? Bjorn?) on Saturday nights from 8pm dinner to 5pm goodbye. If you are not one of these girls in any way, i.e. perhaps you have more male friends than female, are left handed or don’t enjoy sushi, they will not REPRESENT. They also add little gems, such as “your fertility isn’t forever girl!” and “horror stories from the dating front lines”-little niblets to let you know that if you haven’t attained all of the idealized variations achieved by their target buyer, you should be up at night, in a cold sweat, because you will be alone 4-EVA.

Allure-This one I secretly enjoy. It leapfrogs over the notions that your social life should match a certain fascist premise. It goes right for the jugular, it says, “you’re terrified of aging and being unattractive! We have the solution! Ahora mismo!” They gleefully give you the latest updates on hair styling and makeup techniques, injectable doohickies, plastic surgery bells and whistles, and the occasional soulful article, such as “My big sister was more beautiful than me” or “How perfume changed my life.” While my tone may sound mocking, they actually have seasoned contributors who know how to turn a pathetically shallow idea into something of substance. And they do not remotely pretend to be deep, In fact, the magazine is refreshingly retro, with no tricky “current feminist events’ articles as decoys.

More-this is the one I love to hate. They claim ageist liberation,as in , “Grrrr…. sexy cougar Lady, you’ve still got it going on! Just don’t wear elastic waistbands or anything above the midthigh region. Not too much skin girlfriend!” Their fear of the aging process is so pronounced, they shirk in fear at the bold act of wearing Chanel’s Vamp nailcolor or showing a little shoulder action. Their mind numbing catalogue of skin care regimens requires the short term memory of a Starbucks barista and the bank account of a former Merrill Lynch exec enjoying a plush bailout package. And their showcase of the Hag of the Month “Look at what 45 (or 50 or 86) looks like now!” is somehow, hmmm…an insult to women in that age group. Yes we get it, older woman can be attractive, what a notion. And yet why do they sound so surprised?

So what IS recommended junk food reading? Well it depends on your state of mind. If your sense of irony is developed to potent levels, I’d say US or Allure, again those magazines enter you into the fun house proportions of pure Celebrity Gazing or Appearance Obsession. While the testament to uber benefactor Oprah has the comically self aggrandizing new age advice, it does at least showcase some real life situations, i.e. financial and interpersonal. Or it attempts to. But whatever you do, don’t read anything without a sense of humor. Or pictures.