Friday, October 28, 2011

Boo on you, Shape magazine

In the days before I fell in love with This Old House, Shape was my favorite magazine. I've read it for years, had a subscription a handful of times, and generally enjoyed the content (however repetitive it may - and ultimately, must - be). 

Recently, however, magazines like TOH and Better Homes & Gardens and the Woman's Day issues that my mom has finished up with have tended to grab my attention whenever I have a (rare) 15 minutes to sit and enjoy a dozen or so pages. But today I took up the August 2011 issue of Shape (yes, I'm a little behind), and after feeling, well, only vaguely engaged for the first 70 or so pages, I then found myself more than vaguely enraged. Here's why: 

I turned to a multi-page article entitled "Look Good for a Lifetime" and immediately recognized the format: it charts changes/issues decade by decade (20s, 30s, etc.) and makes suggestions based on those age-specific issues. This particular article, I quickly learned, took up the subject of skin and how to keep it beautiful through the aging process. 

Fair enough. 

I was a bit shocked to learn, on the first page, that 20-somethings whose skin is "less radiant" than in previous years (due to decreasing fat stores in the skin) ought to invest in a $100-$300 chemical peel - monthly, no less - but it's a relatively painless and non-invasive procedure and I turned the page to the next decade, expecting something about creams and ointments and maybe an Rx for a product with Retin-a. 

Imagine my surprise: women in their 30s are encouraged to have their faces injected with muscle relaxers (e.g., Botox) or "fillers," the second of which requires a painful procedure costing (the first time) upwards of $1000. I flipped the page again, thinking, Surely when I hit the big 3-0 next year, my only options for skincare and improvement are not medical procedures?! 

What greeted me for the 40s and 50s were no less ridiculous. For you women in your 40s - hit up the lasers and the "tightening devices" (that sounds to me a little too much like a medieval torture device); those of you in your 50s, I hope you've been saving your dough: Shape magazine suggests you go under the knife (for more than $2500) to have an eye lift or, at the very least, using Latisse to thicken your eyelashes. Forget buying a $12 tube of Max Factor - get a prescription! 

Silly me! I thought this was a good
way to enhance your lashes! 
Basically, I'm calling bullsh*t. 

Hey, I'm all for looking good as you age, and before the attack of rosacea took over my cheeks at age 23 (one of my sisters also has it and it's nearly impossible to get rid of), I had great skin, which I miss on a daily basis. But if looking good and being "confident" (this is the article's word) comes at the cost of, well, a ton of money and a whole lot of pricking and injecting and lasering, I have to wonder what exactly it means to be "confident." 

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I believe in hard work and its benefits. When I work our hard and look good, I feel good and proud and confident. Would I look good if a got lipo? Sure, who wouldn't? But would I feel good about myself? I know I wouldn't, and I don't think that our culture - especially our women and girls - need to be hearing that it's okay to strive to "look good" no matter how you have to fake it, buy it, or suffer physical pain for it. 

You've let me down, Shape. You really let me down. 


  1. Sounds to me like Joan Rivers wrote this article.

    It's time to find another magazine to read, wouldn't you say?