My relationship with magazines started with Shout. Remember Shout? Ah, it was great.
I would attach every set of stickers that came with it to my bedroom door (much to my mum’s horror) and stare at PJ and Duncan, Paul Nicholls and Boyzone each night as I drifted off to sleep. Then came the wonderful Smash Hits and a weekly instalment of lyrics for me to use to sing along to the Spice Girls and Peter Andre like the totally cool dude that I was back then.
Then I moved on to Sugar and Bliss and learnt that – hey guess what – other girls get bad skin/knotty hair/inexplicably angry once a month, and that we were all agreed that farting – or ‘parping’ as they called it – in front of another human being was definitely the single worst thing that could possibly happen to anybody EVER.
But then I became a grown up. And with more and more mags to choose from these days, it’s hard to know exactly which ones are aimed at me. What publication should a 28-year-old married woman who thinks the fact that she still wears Converse trainers means she’s right on trend and that Coronation Street is cutting edge television be reading, I wonder?
So, in the interests of research, yesterday I ventured out and bought five magazines to help me find the answer: Grazia, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Red and Glamour.
There’s something so wonderfully indulgent about buying lots of glossies at once, like all I’m going to do for the rest of the day is sip hot chocolate and glide through the pages in front of a roaring fire. Sadly I don’t have a fire, only radiators, and if I am drinking hot chocolate, I tend to neck it whilst throwing a large marshmallow down with every gulp, so my consumption of these reading materials was less glamorous than you might think but I still had a very nice time.
And whilst I was reading them I noticed five things:
1. Grown-up magazines don’t come with packs of free stickers (more’s the pity).
2. I now enjoy looking at clothes in magazines more than I do in shops. I can sit down whilst I’m doing it, eat a chocolate bar at the same time, and fool myself into thinking that I still have a size 8 waist (though the size of the chocolate bar I eat tends to make that illusion rather short lived);
3. People are still talking about twerking (and I’m definitely still too old to try it);
4. Magazines will never run out of things to write about sex;
5. Reading this many glossies at once could prove to be a very expensive habit.
And I loved it. I stared at shoes I can’t afford, I read an article about the importance of empathy that I enjoyed, I noted that ankle boots and boyfriend jeans are now considered to be a perfect match and quietly disagreed, and I read a review of The Wolf of Wall Street that made me want to see it even more than I already did (I’ve carried my crush on Leonardo DiCaprio with me into my adult years. If anything it’s just intensified with age.) I might do this every Saturday.
And I realised that there is thankfully still plenty out there for me. OK the fashion has changed a little bit (although I notice crop-tops still haven’t disappeared back to the nineties where they belong), the celebrities I read about are new (what ever happened to Shampoo?) and Sugar never suggested I consider quitting my job and setting up my own business (school was kind of a non-negotiable commitment), but my reasons for enjoying them are still the same – for a little light relief, a quick fix of celebrity, and to maybe even learn a thing or two. It’s just a shame they don’t include song lyrics any more so I guess I’ll have to google them like everybody else.
As to which magazines are aimed at me, I guess the good news is that the answer is all of them; there was something in every single one that I enjoyed. Granted there were also a few bits that were of less interest – with a chocolate habit like mine, features about diets and exercise regimes are never going to be my thing, and there’s only so many ‘sex secrets’ articles one woman can read in a lifetime – but a quick turn of the page and I was back onto something more up my street.
My only disappointment was that none of them included any pictures of Boyzone for me to put up so I suppose I’ll just have to find my own. My bedroom door’s looking awfully bare.