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September 15th, 2009

Guilt Trips

I have subscriptions to several different woman’s magazines, all of which claim to be able to make me slimmer. (I also have a subscription to Gourmet, which claims the exact opposite, but that’s neither here nor there.) The glossy pages offer low-calorie recipes, pull-out exercise charts, willpower tips and full-body makeover plans.

I did the math, and I have read over 175 issues of such magazines. That’s something like 525 recipes, 1,400 exercises, 80 billion willpower tips and 120 full-body makeover plans. Of these, I have participated in two recipes and four exercises. The others I’ve either thrown into the recycling with the rest of the magazine, or have ripped out and saved with the ill-fated intent of “making over my fitness plan.”

Listen, I’m not a gym rat. I love cheeseburgers and pie. I treat going through my Netflix queue like a serious career. I don’t know what quinoa is, and I don’t care. And these woman’s magazines are really harshing my mellow.

Every time I open one, a fit, limber woman is smiling up at me, one leg behind her head and an 88-pound medicine ball in her right hand, or a dietitian is offering a deceptively simple tip (“Chew your food!”). These are not realistic scenarios, Magazine. I will never Go Vegetarian One Night A Week, and I will NEVER participate in a triathalon. You’re making me feel guilty, and I don’t like it. Why can’t you be more like Gourmet, which only makes me feel guilty for not owning a spaetzle pan?

When I open up a magazine, it’s bad enough that I feel 900 times larger than every single person inside. Why must I also be made to feel lazy and inflexible? Why do I feel inferior for not thinking kale is delicious? I’m trying as hard as I can, dammit! I go to the pool! I eat reduced-fat Triscuits!

I don’t want to feel guilty when I read a magazine. So I am suggesting to the woman’s magazine industry that they keep the fitness tips to a single page toward the end of the magazine, just after the ads for the Barbizon modeling school. This will cut down on publishing costs. Plus, readers like me will know that as soon as they’ve read their horoscope it’s time to throw the magazine away. See? Everybody wins!

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