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Friday, February 6, 2009

Mixed Signals—Why We Cannot Look Like Cheesecake and Eat It Too

Mixed Signals—Why We Cannot Look Like Cheesecake and Eat It Too.

It’s New Year’s resolution time again. Most of us do it, we promise ourselves we will finally lose those extra pounds…whether we really need to lose them or not. So you’re in line at the grocery store and the rows of candy are singing their chorus of “Don’t You Want Me, Baby?” In a fit of impulse-buy desperation, you pick up a periodical that promises to help with this goal.
At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, have you ever noticed that women’s magazines plaster a decadent dessert on the cover, but also promise you a diet/exercise program that will get you in shape by spring? I’m not talking about the fashion magazines with the anorexic celebs and models on the covers. They recommend not eating at all. No, I’m talking about the family oriented women’s magazines, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal, et al.
Next time you’re in line at the grocery store take a good look at the covers. Without fail you will see a full color, lavishly garnished and sinful dessert gracing the face of these magazines. You will also see, as one of their major stories, a way you can walk off, steam off, melt off, or even read off at least ten pounds. Now hold up a second. I used to have a personal trainer and he was pretty clear—if I wanted to maintain my goal weight rich desserts were a ‘sometimes’ food. By sometimes he meant those days when a slice of Boston cream pie would save the life of someone in my household. So why then are periodicals supposedly written to fit my needs and interests showing me decadent food and then telling me I need to lose weight. What’s up with that? I decided it was time to find out.

I did an informal survey of some of my women friends to find out their interpretations of these mixed signals and they came back with some pretty savvy answers.
  1. Women are inherently masochistic. We will make the dessert for our families. The kids of course have monster metabolisms and burn of the sugar just by vibrating in their seats whilst eating it. Men take off weight by deciding once a year to take up running. Jog a mile or two a day for about six days and their set for another twelve months. Women on the other hand munch on carrot sticks, sip tomato juice and watch everyone else eat cake, all the while insisting they are happy with their veggie platter. So perhaps theses magazines cater to the martyr in us.
  2. The dessert on the front is meant as a form of girl porn. Men have magazines about boobies, we have magazines about food we haven’t been able to eat since college. I’ve seen many a woman drooling over strawberry cream pie while walking the uphill course on the treadmill at the gym. Meant for mental masturbation or not, those pics on the cover are pretty seductive. Perhaps Good Housekeeping should start including a pastry centerfold. Aww yeah. I’m picturing a spread on Death by Chocolate right now.
  3. It’s a conspiracy to force you to buy more magazines. You try the diet/exercise plan and lose 10 pounds. Then in a fit of sugar withdrawal you make the recipe on the cover and stuff all of it in your face while locked in you closet, causing you to gain back ten pounds. You then decide the diet plan doesn’t work, forcing you to buy next month’s issue to find a new diet plan and a new way to sabotage it. Pretty crafty marketing, eh?
Whatever the actual reason for the juxtaposition, I still find it a confusing combination of image and text. Wouldn’t you just once like to see an article on how to eat to maintain those ten extra pounds that have plagued you since you gave birth? Or how about a cover that shows a woman collapsed on the couch after the kids are in bed. But if the magazines were looking to give us the truth they’d be called Ways to Get through Your Day Filled with Tasks You Don’t Want to Do, but Have to Do because No One Else Is Going to Do Them. Yeah, that’s a little wordy. So these periodicals will continue to serve up the literal eye candy while cheering us on regarding our unrealistic weight-loss goals. I still can’t help but wonder, are they giving a woman what she wants or driving the needs of the public by offering up stereotypes? I suppose every woman has to answer that question for herself. I know what I’ve decided. I’m eating cake, those extra ten pounds be damned.

Let's learn some more about Cindy! Feel free to visit her website http://cindyjacks.com! And make sure to go purchase a copy of her book Point of Distraction: Second Collection! You can find a review from You Gotta Read Reviews of the First Collection here.


Adelle said...

OMG I am rolling on the floor here! lol Truer words were never spoken. Thanks for the morning chuckle. I think I'll go and eat cake!

Rita Vetere said...

Cindy, you are right on the mark with this one... which is why I don't buy those magazines and why I had a cream puff for breakfast today :-)

Tami said...

A Comment from Marci-

This is sooo true. After we eat the cake, we are bombarded with images of skinny, beautiful women on TV and the movies (Thank you hair and make up!), whilst the married men on TV are just so-so. How is it that the women are perfectly coiffed, slender, and beautiful on TV and their husbands are just "eh?"

Eat that cake and enjoy it. And if you do it in moderation, you won't want it all of the time. :)