Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I have been ill for a week but today it was cooler and pleasant and so I went to the grocery store. While waiting in line, I saw the typical woman's magazine and marveled at the perfection of the cover. It hit every button possible as hard as possible.

As carefully crafted as the most cunningly designed stained glass window or Old Master painting of nymphs and satyrs, this magazine cover hits every possible key, a symphony of jarring cross purposes. Like a marionette on strings, the eye is jerked from one thing to the next.

&spades CPR information. The readers of this women's magazine have to be very alert for any signs of heart attack since the contents of this magazine guarantee a good chance of a heart attack.

&spades Lose weight! This ploy is on the cover of every single women's magazine. All of them have it somewhere. The big bold red letters here are truly, diabolically, in one's face. Talk about chutzpah!

&spades Get rich! Big! Dreams come true! The Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are very popular. Everyone wants to strike it rich, win big time, be a millionaire.

&spades Make dinner for the family fast as possible. The less time, the better. We are the fast food nation!

&spades Exercise. Unlike the big, red, bold promise above, this one mentions some effort but tries to make it as minor as possible.

&spades Make your hovel "pretty" with knick knacks. And then eternal happiness is yours.

But looming over all of this, filling the cover is a huge photograph of a huge, honking, gigantic, dwarfing the tiny portraits of slender women in the far corner, the Mt. Everest of Eternal Cholesterol Artery Clogging Dessert! It is not only lovingly photographed, in pornographic detail, it is utterly excessive and over the bounds of sanity and health. It is excessively high calorie. Chiffon covered with whipped cream covered with chocolate shavings surrounded by sugar cookies with a sugar and chocolate filling! Oh, and a sprig of zero calorie mint which won't be eaten, anyway!

What is the calorie content of this concoction? I am guessing it is around 4000. And the fat content? Ahhh...50 grams? On a health index, this dessert rates somewhere in the basement. The cream has some nutrition but that is about it.

This magazine didn't just happen to end up looking like this. It was carefully planned, vetted, examined by the resident psychologist and pitched carefully by professionals who know their targets and how to hook them just as good fly fishermen know how to cast a line, set a lure and reel in those fish.

The point of this cover is to lure women inside. Not to educate them in ways to lose weight or find bliss or feed their families. It is to pepper them with ads selling even more rancid, toxic junk foods. Every ad shows pictures of skinny, happy humans devouring this stuff and the unhappy, mostly overweight women purchasing this tricky magazine will see the pictures and think, "If only I buy Hot Pockets ® for my children, they will love me and I won't have to cook a dinner from scratch after work>"

Too tired to exercise, too worn out to decorate the house, at least she can eat some junk food and a fist full of cookies and some jello and gaze at the dreamy cover artwork, imagining the joys of eating that luscious, ludicrous dessert.