The Rise and Fall of My Obssession with Glossy Magazines
The boys, the love advice, the sex tips… did glossy magazines create more problems than they solved?
I suppose you could say my obsession started because of a bag of sugar. It was 1996. Being an awkward, shy, ten year old, when sent to the local shop to buy a bag of sugar, I meekly asked the woman standing behind the counter for ‘Sugar please.’ Because saying two words instead of eight (‘Can I have a bag of sugar please?’) was the less excruciating option of the two.
As she turned round to reach for a bag of Tate and Lyle on the shelf behind her, Mr Newsagent’s voice boomed across the small shop.
‘It was the magazine the girl wanted, not the bag, wasn’t it love?’
Not wanting to appear any more foolish that I already was, standing there as I was with goofy teeth and greasy hair, I just nodded.
I smiled at him as he handed me a copy of a magazine and gave me the little change I now had. Leaving the shop, with the magazine safely in my bag, I then had to walk fifteen minutes to another shop to purchase an actual bag of sugar.
The only magazines I read at that time were Bliss and Shout, the two magazines my parents had deemed suitable for me. That, and Girl Talk, which I’d deemed far too babyish for a sophisticated nerd like me.
But this? This so innocently and sweetly named Sugar magazine?
Was this suitable for a ten year old obsessed with ponies and hair accessories? I had a feeling my parents would think not.
This had ‘real’ problems, and questions about sex!
Shout magazine had posters of shirtless hunks from Neighbours and Home and Away, but this had actual tips on how to get your very own boyfriend! Move over ponies!
From that moment on, I was obsessed with Sugar, The boys, the problems, the clothes, the free gifts you sometimes got, the boys…
It wasn’t long before I graduated to J-17, until one day when I asked my dad to pick me up a copy from the shop over the road (being a spoilt princess, I couldn’t possibly make the treacherous journey myself) and he came back shouting that the lady in the shop had told him she would never let her daughter read that because it told you how to ‘do it.’ Which of course I was mortified by. Wanting to know about sex and wanting to do it were two very different things.
After reading J-17 in secret, I soon graduated to 19 and B which were my favourite magazines ever, and told me EVERYTHING I needed to know about being a woman.
Elle was full of adverts and Cosmopolitan was too explicit, as well as being too expensive, so I was excited in 2001 when Elle Girl and Cosmo Girl were launched, because they focused more on fashion, which I knew nothing about but loved reading about all the same.
2001 also saw the birth of Glamour, which swiftly became another must have.
At the height of my obsession in 2002 I was buying 6 magazines a month and maybe a copy of Elle or InStyle if I needed a fix. Not many you may think, but a lot for a 14 year old with no money.
Then when I reached my twenties, I realised that these magazines weren’t good for me.
How to get a man, keep a man, please a man, impress a man, what clothes were ‘in and what clothes to ‘bin’.
The free gifts could not compensate for my feelings of inferiority.
It took a long time, but I will never purchase a glossy woman’s magazine again. So what did I learn? That just like too much sugar will rot your teeth, too many magazines like Sugar will rot your brain. That, and to always be clear to say what you actually want!