Archive for May, 2000

Women’s Magazines Are Dead

Friday, May 5th, 2000

The death of Mirabella is a leading indicator of a new reality: Gender roles just aren’t as important in daily life anymore.


Mirabella was the most intelligent of the women’s magazines, and I once wrote a book review for it. But the news of its demise makes me rejoice. It would be a good thing for everyone except those who earn their livings from the women’s mags if they all disappeared.

No, this isn’t another diatribe about anorexia. The women’s magazines’ worst sin isn’t their promotion of an “unrealistic body image” or excessive thinness. (Frankly, given the ballooning of the average American, male and female, the problem is in the opposite direction.) Their sin isn’t even the promotion of consumerism as a substitute for real experience, or the insipid hedonism they purvey (we’ll get to that later).

The problem is that women’s magazines depend on the notion that the major signifier of identity is gender, and this is less and less true. Gender roles just aren’t as important in daily life anymore, and the work world is readier to ignore sex than most of us are. Mirabella’s demise may be a leading indicator of this new, de-girlified reality of women’s lives.

The magazine had its own internal problems — it was bought and sold and went through several editors in its decade-and-a-half lifespan — but the fact that its educated and affluent women readers were abandoned may herald further changes down the demographic ladder. (more…)