Tuesday, April 27, 2004

How we age with our magazines

Two premiere issues in my collection are More and My Generation, both directed at the young senior demographic, people fighting hard to stay “young.” Here’s an interesting observation in the article 'Selling the ‘Boomer Babes': more, my generation, and the 'New' Middle Age” by Carolyn Kitch in Journal of Magazine and New Media Research, Spring 2003 at Ball State University.

“[T]he mission of magazines such as More and My generation is to celebrate not middle age itself but the reader’s ability to avoid looking or acting middle-aged. Such a goal is built on consumer products that presumably allow the reader to continue to drink from the fountain of youth. This powerful commercial proposition—fueled by a huge Baby Boom audience that, if we believe demographers and social critics, is supremely self-absorbed—is behind the phenomenon that is being credited as “progress” in the mass-media depiction of middle-aged women.

In depicting middle-aged women as vibrant and beautiful, both publications have attempted to correct a long-held stereotype and fill a representational void. Yet their focus on the prevention of aging—and on congratulating readers as being “smart” and “savvy” for wanting to stay young—falls squarely within familiar marketing techniques that combine fear and flattery. Such an appeal always has been central to the selling of younger-women’s magazines and the marketing of those younger audiences to advertisers. Now it has been replicated for older female audiences. At the same time, older women now have unrealistically perfect ideals of beauty that previously were available only within a younger age group. Such outcomes are arguably more cause for concern than celebration.”


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