01 December 2008

the wonder of consumerism

i have a confession to make. i have subscriptions to 3 mommy magazines. glossy paper magazines that come to my mailbox once a month. i got suckered into buying them by this charming guy who showed up at our door one day, in a suit and tie, on a hot day. he said he was trying to stay off the streets and make something of himself through this job training program that teaches him how to talk to people, and be presentable, and make in-person, cold calls, knocking on doors selling magazines. we had a long conversation, during which he asked me for advice on how i "made it" in this world. i didn't want to tell him that i had gone to graduate school for 5 years, to earn a master's degree in a creative and exciting field, only to end up NOT working in that field (yet). in any case, i agreed to help him out.

he said he'd get more "points" if i got 3 magazines instead of the one i would have preferred (which was priced much higher. i actually can't remember now what it was). to be honest, i didn't want any magazines at all. i would have rather just given some cash to the guy. but that's not how it works. so, i went ahead and ordered wondertime, family fun and cookie. i figured i could just donate them to the banneker center.

two months later, the first one arrives. it's wondertime. i feel a little strange flipping through it, in the comfort of my own home, since magazine reading, for me, is usually confined to the dentist's office. to my surprise, i find some okay articles, and some great ideas. like the women's magazines my mom used to get (women's day and family circle) they're packed with recipes and crafting ideas, and things to do with children. i fit nicely into the target audience--that scares me a little. so, family fun arrives a few days later. it is pretty much the same as wondertime, only slightly less hip (i just discovered they are put out by the same people). it was in one of these two magazines that i first heard about felting soap. in the most recent family fun, i saw a great idea for book marks that cosmo can easily do (with some supervision), and i've tried a recipe or two.

then cookie arrives. from the cover i can see that the target audience for this magazine has a much higher income than than i do, but once i started flipping through it, i was truly insulted. not only was the thing packed with ads for high end children's fashion and pharmaceuticals, but most of the "content" featured more stuff to buy. while wondertime and family fun encourage DIY projects to make your life better, cookie encourages spending money to make your life better. maybe that's appropriate for urban professional moms, who simply have more money than time (most working moms i know have very little of either). wondertime does have a regular feature called "stuff we love," but cookie recently had a fifty page section called "the cookie 100," which highlighted 100 items moms just couldn't live without. it seemed to me like the magazine was one big advertisement. in the current issue, there was a piece on putting together an all purpose holiday party outfit by getting a great blouse, a great skirt, and a great pair of shoes. they had several options pictured for each, including info on the designer, the price tag, and where you could find it. a cute skirt will cost you anywhere from $149 to $995. on the next page you can find a suggestion for a toddler's faux fur coat (to be paired with "thermals or tulle") for $328. remember that she'll get a good 4 months use out of it, if that. what economic recession?

i don't mind the other two (though i won't be renewing the subscription), but cookie? i find it so offensive, i didn't even want to take it to the banneker center. it's packed with the pretty colors and patterns often found in high fashion magazines, so i guess we can recycle them for collages and other craft projects.

in the future, i'll stick to harpers.


Actchy said...

I am not a magazine person. My husband is. I lament the number of (nearly identical) magazines that come into our apartment on a regular basis.

That being said, one of the periodicals that arrives -- weekly! -- is New York Magazine. I have started to love New York Magazine with unbridled passion. I marvel at how I am its exact target audience.

And in this way, I have come to terms with the other volumes that show up in our apartment, ones that target my husband in the same way my NY Mag targets me.

Of course, "Cookie" sounds horrible, though. And like I wouldn't want to get lunch with anybody who was its target audience.

chuck said...

"cookie?" is that really what it is called? you know how i feel about that horrible, horrible word . . .

cake said...

i found some bamboo cooking spoons, with the brand name "cook-eez" and thought of you, chuck.

actchy, is New York Magazine the one that comes in the times once on sunday? if so, i do enjoy that, but we rarely get it.

Anna said...

I get overwhelmed with everything that we Must Do Immediately every time I leaf through a new issue of Family Fun. My charges have taken to circling all of the projects they want to do.

And thanks for the heads-up about Cookie~ I've almost bought a copy a few times and now I'll never have that particular problem again!

Actchy said...

Actually, no. That's New York TImes Magazine...which I also love, and which also comes to my apartment. And I'm not talk talking about "The New Yorker", either, which is a super magazine but one that ends up stressing me out because I don't make the time to read it in full and thus a subscription seems wasteful.

New York Magazine is the one that pairs weekly listing of events in the City with fascinating articles on everything from politics to Liza Manelli to why it's good to go barefoot. And yet it's not a trash mag at all. I fantasize that someone from NY Mag will stumble upon Beyond PIckles and offer me a job.

MEP said...

A friend gifted me a subscription to Family Fun. I have enjoyed it, even though I often feel tired just thinking about all the family fun we could be having if only I were more organized or energetic or whatever. A lot of the projects look like fun though, and I think I would do more (or, at least one) of them if my kids were a bit older.

I have never seen Cookie, but I have heard similar negative reviews of it.

I used to subscribe to Budget Living. It ceased publication, and I was sent a magazine called Shop, Etc. in its place. Shop, Etc. was Cookie-esque and not my style. I remember that in the editor's welcome letter she told some story about shopping at Barney's with her thirteen year-old daughter. They both wanted the same pair of $300 walking shorts. The editor humorously noted how her daughter would need the size zero shorts, but she herself would need the size sixes (but she wrote this as if, you know, wearing a size six just showed how old and out of shape she was . . . please.) After two issues, Shop, Etc. ceased to exist. I did not miss it.

Sarah and Jack said...

Agreed that Cookie magazine is positively ridiculous. What is the point even? I can never figure it out.

Family Fun is I *think* put out by Disney, but they often have cute, cheap recycling type crafts that I do with Jack.

Haven't looked at wondertime in ages, since it seems better for younger kids.