“Women’s fitness magazines are bullshit”

“We’ve long suspected that “fitness” is secret ladymagcode for “neurotic thinness,” and a perusal of three of this month’s “health” and “fitness” offerings- Self, Fitness, and Women’s Health has shown that there’s some serious subliminal self-worth eroding shit going on. Readers are sold the idea of being healthy and strong and fit and end up with a stack of weight loss ads and splashy graphics about having pretty hair. The pervasive “lose weight” message is fed to us like a dog pill slathered in peanut butter, and we’re expected to just take it and go happily scampering off.

Between the three magazines, weight loss as the goal of fitness and calorie counting as a requirement of eating was mentioned and repeated and harped upon on over 100 pages. The second most popular topic featured in women’s fitness magazines? Makeup and beauty products, which take up 60 pages of the publications. We also are taken on a delightful journey through clothing, accessories, and jewelry, because nothing says “health” like having a nice healthy watch by Tag Heuer or a cancer-fighting Kate Spade bag. There are some lessons to be learned, though, important lessons that will help all of us feel crappy about ourselves without actually getting any stronger or loving our bodies:

Have an unbelievably fucked up relationship with food and expect that every other woman does as well. Desserts are “indulgent,” and “sinful” and calories are to be obsessively counted. Breakfasts are compared side-by-side and analyzed for fat content. Tips about how to resist the urge to eat a piece of cake abound. Foods are discussed as “belly busters” or “fat fighters” rather than “delicious things that you put in your mouth, chew, swallow, and enjoy without obsessing over.” (…)

Never stop wanting to be smaller than you are. Your ultimate goal should be to shrink to the point of complete invisibility. We should not be able to see you when you turn to the side. This month’s issue of Self featured an article that encouraged its readers to maintain their “slim down drive,” like it’s something that occurs naturally, like prey drive, or sex drive. “Here we see a gathering of bonobo monkeys scrutinizing each other’s thighs and vowing to collectively do more lunges. The natural beauty of the slim-down drive, in action.” It’s not natural to want to be smaller; that’s why you get hungry when you don’t eat enough. The magazine could have easily repackaged “slim down drive” as “workout drive,” but instead they chose to play on their readers’ insecurities by creating one of the Most Bullshit Phrases I’ve Ever Read.”

Jezebel, Women’s Fitness Magazines Are Bullshit