This is a bit of a rant, written about this time last year.
Really, the stuff they use to catch your eye on the front of magazines these days is unbelievable. Truly unbelievable. And I don’t mean the magazines on the top shelf, either. That’s a topic for another day. Maybe. No, I mean all the promises they give you, shouting in block capitals, red letters, bold typescript. Some real ones on a magazine I actually subscribe to (but won’t be for much longer) actually say “668 ways to celebrate” and “48 fab new festive recipes”. Perhaps you can guess which edition these were in. Just in case you’ve not twigged yet, also included were “Turkey and all the trimmings in just 2 hours!” and “5 minutes to fabulous”. Indeed. If only it were that simple. I thought it took at least a week to recover from a facelift? And surely it takes 24 hours to defrost a turkey?
So, these promises got me thinking. Of some alternative, equally outlandish ones. That promise the earth and deliver nothing. Or just make us more stressed than we were before we read them. Some I came up with were “999 presents for you to buy in 30 minutes!” “88 ways to get rid of bingo wings!” 69 reasons not to get out of bed in the morning” “24 lists to help you plan each hour of the day” and “3 minutes to spare? Ideas to fill them!”
What was most enlightening was comparing the cover stories of the aforementioned magazine with the December issue for this time last year, of a well-known men’s magazine. The words “festive”, “turkey” and “celebrate” were completely absent. There was only one tiny reference to “Xmas”. In fact some of the headlines were “53 tips for building beer-proof Abs”, “Burn Fat Fast – lose 2 inches in 3 weeks!” (although that might put some guys off if they didn’t read it properly), “Sex on Demand! – Get What You Want Every Time”. The two most amazing claims were – “Sleep Better, Live Forever” which I thought was a tad of a big promise, and “How to make £250,000 in just 10 months”. The only teensy festive reference was “Free! Her Xmas Gear Guide – Save Time and Effort Getting it Right”. Well, that just about sums it up, doesn’t it? She’s busy making 48 different festive concoctions in the kitchenette and he’s out buying her something to wear on the back of his motorbike/inappropriate underwear/a new box of tools in as little time as possible before dashing to the gym to tone his beer-gut, spending an hour on the phone talking to some weird person about making pots of money and then going to bed at 7pm so he’ll never die.
So, what are the messages being received in these two cases? As I see it, and you may see it very differently, I realise, women are being told to slave their butts off over the festive period while men are allowed to completely ignore it, save a quick dash to the shops on Christmas Eve to get some “gear” for his other half. Although how men who read these magazines actually have other halves, is beyond me. Ah, there’s the rub. They probably don’t. That’s the point. They are for single men, who go home to Mummy for Christmas, since she’s been out and bought her magazine (or maybe her daughter-in-law gave her an annual subscription to it) and has made all those scrumptious-looking things that there are pictures of inside. In between the pages of beauty advice and health problems and adverts that look like real articles, but are not. And there’s that word “gear”. I don’t know about you, but it conjures up drugs to me. Either that or leathers for wearing on a motorbike. It just doesn’t sound much like something a woman might like to receive – like a piece of art, a booking for a spa mini-break, perfume, chocolates, something tasteful to wear or even a beautiful piece of jewellery now, does it? No. But maybe that’s manspeak for those things. Who knows? I sure as heck don’t.
And now a calming photograph from when it was snowy last week.