I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt good reading a fitness or “health” magazine geared toward women. Instead, I’ve felt self-conscious, inadequate and way too big. At some point I realized the words in their glossy pages weren’t gospel. I realized that I didn’t have to believe or act on their tips—which focused on watching my weight and what I was eating (like a hawk), feeling guilty any time I wavered and preparing for (i.e., panicking over) bikini season and holiday parties.
In fact, years ago, I distinctly remember reading an article about a woman who’d order dessert only to take one bite and pour salt on the rest of the piece (so she wouldn’t be tempted to eat any more). I remember reading a suggestion to carry a clutch to a Christmas party to also somehow control your eating. I should’ve known then that magazines that promote such restriction and lack of enjoyment aren’t for me (or anyone). Here are other reasons why I’ve decided to ditch these magazines for good:
- I want to be inspired, encouraged and uplifted when I’m reading something.
- I want to learn genuinely fascinating things (not how many calories are in that low-cal, low-fat brownie).
- I don’t want to hyperfocus on my weight or feel bad about the number on the scale.
- I don’t need anything else to fuel my negative thoughts.
- I’m not interested in following the latest fad diet (or any diet).
- I don’t want to be encouraged to become terrified about wearing a bikini.
- I don’t want to confuse my weight with my worth.
- I don’t want to feel bad about eating potato chips and (gasp!) real pasta (which isn’t made from cauliflower or squash).
- I don’t want to hyperfocus on having clear, “young” skin.
- I don’t need a thousand dollar bag, boots, sunglasses or coffee maker.
- I don’t want to think myself thin. (“Think yourself thin” appeared on the cover of one women’s magazine.)
- I don’t want to drop 6 pounds in 7 days (another actual headline). That sounds dangerous. And I’d rather focus on other things—like moving my body in ways that I love; eating delicious, nutritious foods; and enjoying my life.
- I want to feel empowered—whether it’s to pursue my dreams or set boundaries.
- I want to savor all types of foods, instead of feel guilt and shame for wanting to have pizza or a piece of cake.
- I want to trust my body, instead of fearing that if left to my own devices, I’ll devour everything in sight.
- I don’t want to feel pressure to fit a certain ideal. I don’t want to feel any pressure to change my body or myself.
Women’s magazines may batter your body image. They might sink your mood. They might make you feel terrible not just about your weight, but about yourself. Or they might not. Ultimately, what matters is that you’re getting whatever you want to be getting from whatever you’re reading. In other words, think about the kinds of magazines you like to read and why. Think about what you want your magazines to provide (after all, you’re spending your hard-earned money on them).
Ultimately, the big question is: How do you want to spend your days and your time?