A humble little blog about books, information, and other things that are good to know.

Posts tagged ‘magazines’

Not Intended For Children

Glasses-wearing baby reading very serious novel

Image via the Vicky Mathan Blog.

I’ve been meaning to spend some time on this question for quite a while, ever since my good friend told me all about her daughter’s trip to the public library. It was a great experience: the little one (who I’ve christened with the blog-name Berry) got her very own library card and took home some picture books that she really enjoyed. But Mommy told me a story about how Berry kept trying to look at cookbooks, and that got me thinking: what happens when little readers (or not-yet-reading book lovers like Berry) get their hands on material that’s meant for grown-ups?

I encountered another example this morning while I was getting winter tires put on my car. A mom and her daughter were sitting in the waiting room; the child was maybe about six years old. Mom paged through an issue of People magazine, then set it aside, where her little girl picked it up and started flipping through. That’s when I noticed the cover story: TEEN SUICIDE TRAGEDIES.

Now that’s an even m0re serious example, and it highlighted the idea that, for me, there are two separate issues here:

  1. What happens when little children get into reading material that leaves them confronting ideas parents would rather protect them from encountering?
  2. Are there any reasons to keep children away from grown-up books that don’t contain anything controversial or disturbing, but they just aren’t designed for children?



Images Aren’t Real

I’m back from my vacation now, and I’ve got a lot of things I’d like to write about, but the first thing I want to point to is this site I found. Among many other things, Jezebel is crusading to keep unretouched images in the public eye, and they want you to understand why. It’s not to trash celebrities or to take famous people down a peg or two.

It’s to remind us that we’re not as unworthy as magazines, television, and the media in general would have us believing.

The basic idea: the more we’re exposed to the “before” images of celebrities looking like real people, the better we’ll each be equipped to remember that a celebrity doesn’t see her Cover Girl face when she looks in the mirror. She sees somebody pretty average, and it takes a lot of computer effects to create the “above-average” face needed to sell you whatever product the magazine is hawking.

And make no mistake, most magazines are selling something. If nothing else, they’re often selling you on the idea that you’re not good enough the way you are and buying some product will make you better.

Jennifer Aniston without makeup

How would you feel if you knew what Jennifer Aniston looked like before they Photoshopped her cover shot? Image via Jezebel.

For example: you look at Jennifer Aniston’s cover shot (above) and then you look at your own face in the mirror. Maybe you think to yourself, “Damn, I wish my skin was that vibrant and wrinkle-free”. Then you turn the page and what do you see? An ad for some sort of Olay skin cream promising to make your skin vibrant and wrinkle-free . . . like, say, Jennifer Aniston’s.

But check out that “before” shot from Jezebel. Even Jennifer Aniston doesn’t look vibrant and wrinkle-free without a lot of make-up, Photoshop, and other tricks of the trade that help her to attain the impossible standard of beauty we all see when we look at her. She’s not far above the rest of us ordinary mortals. She’s human, just like the rest of us.

And maybe if that’s true, it goes the other way too – the rest of us are beautiful, just like the famous women we idolize. Or, as Jezebel puts it:

Every day, a young woman somewhere sees one of these overly polished pictures for the first time…and has no idea that they’re not real. [. . .] What the girl does know is that the pictures show What Is Beautiful. She thinks they are reality. And maybe she doesn’t have someone in her life to point out that this is complete and utter bullsh*t. So we’ll do that, and we’ll do it over and over again just to make sure that everyone knows what’s up.

And as long as they keep making that point, I’ll keep passing it on. Why? Because I wouldn’t want my niece, my daughter, my sister, or my friend to think that if she doesn’t look like a Photoshopped picture all the time, she must not be beautiful.

My Top Five Magazines

I use this blog as a vehicle to spread the word about books I’ve read, but I thought magazines deserve a turn as well. And since I noticed I’ve been getting a bit ranty lately, I decided to cool it down – after all, it’s summer! And it’s a Saturday! – by talking about the magazines I’m most likely to pick up at a doctor’s office or impulse-buy at a grocery store. Or, to put it another way: if five friends came to me, each offering a gift subscription to a magazine of my choice, these are the five I’d be most likely to pick.

Granted, this says absolutely nothing about which magazines are good. It tells you the reader more about me than about magazines. But like so many reviews and recommendations in the library world, it’s a good jumping-off point for a discussion. And if nothing else, I suppose Christmas is coming . . . surely I’ve got five friends, right? (Just kidding.)

So here are my five favourites, in no particular order:

Past issue of Maclean's Magazine

Image courtesy of Amazon.

1. Maclean’s. It’s a broad range of current-events articles from all over Canada and the world. I tend to pick it up whenever there’s a cover story that particularly interests me, but I usually find at least three or four other stories that grab my attention as well.

Psychology Today magazine

Image courtesy of FolioMag.

2. Psychology Today. We interact with other human beings every single day, including ourselves; who wouldn’t want to know how the human brain works? This is a magazine that mixes a scientific point of view with a real-world perspective, so you know how cutting-edge psychiatric knowledge can improve your everyday life.

Martha Stewart Living magazine cover

Image courtesy of Guidespot.

3. Martha Stewart Living. For a while I was subscribing to this magazine, and I loved learning more about how to achieve better living through handicrafts, cooking, and the collection of miscellaneous tidbits around the house. This one only works, though, if you’re good at discarding ideas that don’t fit with your scheme. If you take everything Martha says as absolute gospel, you’ll be completely reworking your whole home every few weeks!

Writer's Digest magazine cover.

Image courtesy of Cover Browsers.

4. Writer’s Digest. It’s no big secret that I’d like to be able to publish fiction. Over the years I’ve snagged a few copies of this magazine to give me helpful hints and practical tips on how to improve my technique. But if I ever actually finish my writing – unlikely if I continue blogging at this astonishing rate – the publishing tips will hopefully help as well!

Healthy Cooking magazine cover

Image courtesy of Taste of Home.

5. Healthy Cooking. Actually, I would be absolutely addicted to any magazine full of recipes. But if I had to choose just one to become a loyal subscriber, I’d go with a magazine that provides creative recipes with guilt-free ingredients, so I could even make the desserts without my husband accusing me of trying to fatten him up. (He’s right. I am.) I love cooking, so a collection of recipes will always make me happy!

What are your favourite magazines, and why?

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