My name is Ms. M, and I am a magazine whore.
When I was a wee little girl, all wiggles, and giggles, and toothless grinned hope, my mother gave me a piece of advice. Always buy magazines, that way you’ll always be in style.
My mother and I differed significantly in our values. For me, looking good ran a distant second to doing and feeling good. Style came second to authenticity, and if I had to choose, I preferred to be well-read, well-spoken and informed to being worried about the state of my bangs.
I did keep buying magazines, and I must confess subscriptions to Elle, Flare, Food and Wine,Vines, Buddhadharma and the regular purchase of Woman’s World (it reminds me of my grandmother) and Victoria. I take Shambala Sun, Tricycle, The New Yorker, Self, The Walrus, Architectural Digest, Cote Paris, The Economist, Vines and a slather of men’s publications on a regular, rotating basis.
Yes, there it is, my guilty confession. But the guiltiest part is this; I love. LOVE. L.O.V.E. reading men’s magazines.
The similarity in subjects to women’s magazines is astounding, and the differing use of language fascinates me. The advertisements are rather telling as well. What, my precious readers, are they trying to sell the men whom we find so emotionally mysterious and impenetrable?
They are selling cool. Now, cool is subjective. Some women like metrosexual men who can flambe, have a cupboard full of men-make-up, and a closet full of colourful Paul Smith and John Lobb shoes. I’m not one of those women. I like classic style that comes off as effortless.
I am not a watch person, but a man with a nice watch can whisper sophistication and strength. Hence the plethora of watch adverts in men’s magazines. I’m more of a GPS watch gal than a pretty watch gal. I like a man who can blaze a trail, not merely flash a name brand and forced smile.
Besides the adverts in men’s mags, I love the articles. In the January 2013 edition of Esquire, as in many other men’s mags, there is a refreshing use of the f-word and frank discussion. With a rather surely image of Sean Penn gracing the cover in jeans and a T-shirt, my little rugged-sophisticated-man-crush was burning pretty darn hot.
Reading about Mr. Pen’s perspective on life, I swooned over his reminiscence of a chat about parenting with Hunter S. Thompson. HUNTER. S. THOMPSON!!! On parenting…..! BLISS…..
Pen quotes Hunter S. about Hunter’s relationship with his son and grandchild, “…he told me the secret of parenting was authenticity. They might not like your authenticity, but it’s authentic to you, and they will find their own authenticity if they are raised in the presence of it.” And that’s what you’re seeking every day; “Who the fuck am I and what am I supposed to be doing here and what do I get out of it” In other words, “Do I feel alive?””
You get little of that raw honesty about parenting, or anything else in women’s magazines.
A lot of women’s magazines focus on clap trap like the Fifty Shades trilogy ( which has its place if you’re trying to get yourself ready for a hot night in the sack with a mediocre man du jour ). Or you get a list of book-club-chardonnay-drinking-white-bread-of-the-literary-world reviews, with a tame interview about an author whose idea of radical writing includes the use of the word vagina.
Not in men’s magazines. You get the dirt where brave writers grow their best ideas. Real writers write about what scares us, and the things we’re generally too chicken-shit to say out loud.
Another interview in the January issue of Esquire with Nick Toshes, quotes Mr. Toshes as saying this about any new, book ideas on the horizon, “When you walk into a Barnes and Noble, it’s all this “How to” shit…An idea I’ve played with for the last few years is to do a book like that but an honest one. Like, “Fuck moderation, fuck the job, and fuck the getting rich because they’re gonna take it off you anyway.”
You just don’t get this in chick mags. You get how to tame fly-aways, how to emotionally de-code your man (yah, right!), and how to make your body more like a stick figure. Blah. That’s no fun!
Reading men’s magazines has also made little old me a bit more sensitive about how difficult it must be to navigate the manscape of 2013. Women already know that ‘they’ expect us to be trim, pretty, intelligent, and impossibly perfect. We expect men to be all of these things (substitute ruggedly handsome for pretty), plus strong, the perfect balance of emotional and stoic, financially and professionally successful, and in the know about outdoor survival and how to fix the furnace.
I’ve always fantasized about men being naturally strong, stoic and having a simple intelligent sophistication. Exposing myself to the world of men’s mags, and especially their grooming and fashion sections has open my eyes to their plight of insecurity.
To all of the men out there struggling with how to do this, just come here. Yes, that’s right, come to Ms. M. Esq., I can kiss it all better.