I still remember that sweet little feeling that struck me when, after two long months of anxiously waiting, my American Girl Magazine would arrive in the mail: pure exhilaration. I was probably 9 or 10, and since the mag was marketed toward that very age group, the publishers apparently figured a mere six issues per year were sufficient for an easily distracted grade-schooler. But I was never a typical kid when it came to magazines. I think even back then I found a sort of magic in them. I would pour over the pages, purely in awe over routine topics. On one occasion, I recall being so inspired by a shower caddy setup that I begged my mom to buy me the exact soaps featured in the photo.
Fast-forward a few years and, after a brief stint hooked on teeny-bopper celebrity magazines at age 12, I subscribed to a few with a bit more substance; numerous issues of Seventeen, CosmoGirl, and Teen Vogue soon inhabited the corners of my closet and the space under my bed. I would spend hours meticulously inspecting the vibrant pictures and reading every word of every article. I would make inspiration-board-type collages of dresses, lipsticks, faces, words, and even ads. Strangely, as soon as you turn 17, you stop reading the magazine with the same name. So onto Cosmopolitan and Glamour and People StyleWatch it was (a very mature leap, might I add). But the cut-outs and fascination never ceased.
This is where you might argue that magazines are dangerously materialistic and idealistic. And in some ways, I'd agree with you. When viewed in the wrong manner, they are able to make one feel incompetent: "Why don't I have those Williams-Sonoma herb scissors?" or "I need those Loeffler Randall wedges," or a biggie, "Well, compared to all these models, I look like garbage." But when you see magazines the way I see magazines, they become more than glossy pages for self-deprecation.
When you're looking for a change, some motivation, a jump-start, a magazine sparks ideas. It's not judging, just impersonally suggesting that you start doing Bikram yoga. And while magazines are impersonal, they're so personal at the same time. When you've had a crummy day or made no plans on a Friday night, a magazine is there. The writers and editors speak to you: "Oh, you have that problem where mascara keeps getting on your eyelids too? Lemme help with that!" And instantly, there's a comforting, quasi-social escape.
And finally, when you have no idea what to do with your life and have flip-flopped between majoring in nursing, psychology, nutrition, and fashion design, a magazine enters the situation in the most unexpected way. "Well what do you love to do?" my parents asked me during a crucial, future-related conversation as if it was simplest, most objective question. "All I ever want to do is read magazines," I answered, hopeless and on the verge of tears (probably with a mag in my lap). And just like that, my doubts disappeared, and I knew why I so badly wanted that Limited Too soap from American Girl Magazine all those years ago. I'm utterly in love with everything about magazines, and I want to work with them, read them, and continue to adore them for the rest of my life.
"Do what you love" is the corniest, most worn-out, ridiculous advice one could give. And it's also the most brilliant.
My Fave Mags:
[Call me a feminist, but I'm so drawn to all the women empowerment the magazine continues to encourage.]
[They just speak my language when it comes to the topic of fashion.]
[Because a girl's gotta eat, duh.]
[The best blend of celebrity obsession and trend-spotting.]