|Women's magazines: style vs. substance
There's a lot to More magazine -- more than I can
outline here -- including articles on beauty and fashion, people
and places, body and mind, work and money. The body and mind section
had features on bone health, depression and weight-training tips.
In the people and places section, profiles of Virginia Madsen, CEO
Carol Bartz, and a mother-daughter pair of writers (Perri Klass
and Sheila Solomon Klass). It offers a lot in the human-interest
However, the work and money section left me wanting,
well, more. The June issue featured two articles, one on the potentially
awkward situation of working for a boss from Generation X or Y,
and another of an artist who, at 60, finally landed her first solo
exhibit at an art gallery.
Style: 17 percent
Substance: 83 percent
Real Simple --
The fluffiest of the bunch, this magazine's name should be changed
to "Real Superfluous." It seems to be targeted to indolent
spendthrifts. It's often hard to distinguish the editorial from
In its favor, I will say the graphic design is superior
and the publication's size makes it suitable for the coffee table,
but not practical for the bathroom. Though ostensibly its mission
is to make life easier, it seems more geared to pushing products
that will clutter your closets. Going to the beach? Don't forget
your calypso flip-flops ($30), Helen Kaminski hat ($65), Aveeno
sunblock ($11 -- OK, this one's important), Eddie Bauer tunic ($44.50),
Company Store towel ($25), Tuffo blanket ($40), Crate & Barrel
beach chair ($25), beach stakes and sand stakes ($15), first-aid
kit ($10), Johnson's baby powder ($2), Avon bug guard ($10), Huggies
wipes ($2.30), L.L. Bean bag ($37) -- you get the idea. If you buy
all the products listed in the article, this trip to the beach will
cost you more than $400. And carrying all the stuff doesn't make
Real Simple doesn't offer many money-saving suggestions.
Its advice: Spend, spend, spend. Few articles offer depth; they're
more for grazing. I guess it's the antithesis of Money magazine;
both share the same corporate parent.
Style: 48 percent
Substance: 52 percent
Woman's Day --
This issue offers more in the money department than the others.
The cover depicts frozen yogurt pops, but above its logo an eye-catching
headline: "How to cut credit card debt." The article covers
the basics well.
Other substantive matters: There's an interview with
actress Blythe Danner, but after shooting the breeze about her role
in Showtime drama "Huff," the interview turns to oral
cancer, the disease that took her husband's life. The health section
tackles heavier topics such as hypoglycemia, panic attacks, chronic
pain and safe/unsafe foods. Of course, there are sections devoted
to fashions, gardening, children and food.
The other work/money piece, "Show me the money,"
is targeted to at-home moms who are looking for part-time work.
It offers good suggestions, including a sidebar on tax considerations.
Style: 29 percent
Substance: 71 percent
The average for these publications: 33 percent fluff,
67 percent substance. Does this reflect the typical American woman's
psychic constitution? I like to think we're all substance, but some
might disagree. Regardless, I hope editors of women's magazines
heed the call to give their readers more to chew on in the personal-finance
Longtime financial journalist Barbara Mlotek Whelehan
earned a certificate of specialization in financial planning.
If you have a comment or suggestion about this
column, write to Boomer
Bucks.If you have a particular financial problem that you would
like addressed, please send your queries to Dr.
Don, Tax Talk, the Real
Estate Adviser or the Debt Adviser.