Beyond liposuction: The serious side of women’s magazines

Five reasons to read women’s magazines

3 minute read
Rosie the Riveter, meet a survivor of child sex trafficking.
Rosie the Riveter, meet a survivor of child sex trafficking.
A few months ago, Port magazine announced what it called "A New Golden Age" in magazines, illustrated with a photo of six old white guys— the usual suspects, like Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair, Jim Nelson of GQ and Adam Moss of New York. (Click here.)

Then last month, in Folio: the magazine about magazines, Katelyn Belyus wrote that women's magazines have failed her because "They're Just Not Saying Anything Interesting." (Click here.)

I wonder what these critics have been reading. As someone who devours an average of ten print magazines a month, I regularly find exciting, insightful content that reminds me why my dream has always been to write and edit a monthly— even a women's monthly.

Yes, ladies' magazines hawk $1,870 leather backpacks in their "Best Backpacks for Fall 2013" roundups. (Click here, for example.) But there's much more to women's mags than Kardashians and liposuction. Consider some of my favorite recent pieces.

Torn from their children

1. "Level the Playing Field."
This package, published on the 50th anniversary of the federal Equal Pay Act, featured advice on negotiating one's salary and brief interviews with the likes of Serena Williams and Sarah Jessica Parker. (Marie Claire, May.)

2. "I'm Here, My Children Are Over There." This important piece of reporting by Seth Freed Wessler concerned immigrant mothers torn from their American-born children. Many are never reunited with their loved ones. (Elle, September.)

Sex with the teacher

3. "The Learning Curve: Sex with a Teacher." This lengthy essay by Katrina Onstad examined what happens when teenage girls are sexually involved with a teacher as well as the aftermath, through the lens of one specific case in Canada. It's a fascinating piece that alternatively makes you cringe in disgust, nod in agreement and wonder just how far parents can or should go to protect their daughters from themselves and their natural urges? (Elle, August 2007.)

4. "T Ortiz, a Survivor of Child Sex Trafficking, Reacts to This Week's FBI Action." I rejoiced when gave an inspiring woman a place to publish her thoughts on major news of the week. It's one thing to read about major news like an FBI sting that rescues more than 100 sex trafficking victims, another entirely to have such a story put into context by someone who's been there. A great use of a global brand to tell an important story. (, Jan. 20, 2013.)

5. "How to B*tch-Slap Your Annoying Credit Card Debt." Women's magazines have always provided excellent service content. In her useful monthly column for Cosmopolitan, Alexa von Tobel of LearnVest offers solid financial advice, like this piece about dealing with credit card debt.

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