Monday, March 28, 2011

Frivolities In International Shopping: Lucky Is A Magazine For Women With Money Or Unrealistic Dreams.

The Good: Glossy and looks good.
The Bad: Terribly addy, Impractical in virtually every way, Expensive for what one gets, Mediocre writing.
The Basics: Vacuous and lacking in any substance, Lucky is as much a catalog as it is a magazine. Why pay for advertisers to try to sell you more?

Ever since I began writing reviews of magazines again, I have been awfully attentive to magazines wherever I find them. I have been reading a lot of newspapers and magazines of late and so it is something when I find myself shaking my head and asking aloud, "Who reads this tripe?!" I found myself literally asking this question aloud recently while at my therapist's office waiting and I found myself reading the latest issue of Lucky Magazine.

Right off the bat, I will acknowledge, I am not Lucky's target demographic. I am not a girl who fantasizes about shopping constantly or an 18 - 24 year old woman with an unlimited credit card. And at the same time as I make an effort to decry the lack of worth or value to Lucky, the magazine for shoppers, I acknowledge that a magazine or catalog focusing on, for example, Wal-Mart style everyday person values would not make for any more interesting reading. But Lucky impressed and bothered me almost from the moment I began reading it.

Lucky is the magazine for shoppers. That ought to be amended to "the magazine for women shoppers," but this appears to be self-evident by the content of the magazine. This is part of the troubling collection of expectations Lucky instills almost from the moment one opens the magazine. Of course it's for women, men don't do the shopping! That's women's work. Yes, there is a strange, bland assumption that the money is coming from someone else who just wants the reader of this magazine to look pretty and be happy shopping (leave the thinking to the men). If that concept offends you, you would probably enjoy Lucky about as much as I did, which is to say not at all. Lucky offended my sensibilities as a feminist by presenting an issue that lived in complete denial of the economic realities of the United States, and indeed the world, today.

Far more offensive than the concept of Lucky was its execution and I write that more as a writer than a feminist. Lucky, at least the March 2009 issue which I used for this review, is comprised of 216 glossy pages, including the back cover (which it might as well be, it has the same sense of substance as the rest of the magazine). Of those 216 pages, 113 - a full half! - are full page advertisements. I suppose there is some level at which this makes sense; advertisers are going to get a pretty tremendous value by advertising to women who like to shop, one assumes. But wow! Half the pages are advertisements.

The problematic aspect of this, and the reason there is not much for me to write on Lucky is that the 113 ad count came on my second take of counting the advertisements. Why would it take me two runs through the magazine to get something as simple as a page count for advertisements correct? The rest of the magazine is laid out much like the advertisements! Lucky is singularly the most difficult magazine I have ever read to try to separate the ads from the content! Indeed, one has to look closely to determine if the purse on the page with the tiny paragraph blurb is an advertisement or an actual article on the object. Yes, articles in Lucky are frequently small paragraphs of information on individual pieces, like a purse.

Of the 113 pages of "substance" in Lucky, very little of it is writing. Articles include assembling outfits (average outfit cost in this month's issue of Lucky - $150.00) and to be fair to Lucky, the magazine does have a sense of style. I've seen that sense of style on Gossip Girls, London catwalks and in virtually every Hollywood movie. This is not a magazine for people who have budgets, kids who are not a serious budgetary concern or any connection to the common folk. These are also not styles for women who are over a certain size (to be charitable, I'll say a size 2).

Yes, this is another magazine filled with stick-figure thin women which reinforces a cultural expectation that is impractical, overrated and more ridiculous than many want to admit. Yes, Lucky helps reinforce the programming in popular culture by declaring (implicitly, if not explicitly) "This is what men want!" In addition to outfit recommendations - each article proudly declaring labels and places to purchase the outfit components shown - Lucky has make-up tips. Ironically, the outfits were lauding a more frumpy look (box tops and loose pants) but the idea of natural beauty - i.e. no make-up - is still a taboo concept.

Come to think of it, all of the models in the magazine - to the best of my recollection - were white, too. There were no people of color (insert social commentary here) and the women looked pale, thin, made up with immaculate hair. Of course, this is the target demographic, people with money. One whole section featured ideas for purchases on your next European shopping trip. The magazine is geared to those who have an upcoming European shopping trip . . . perhaps monthly.

Near the end of the magazine was an extensive article, one might call it a photo essay, on shoes. Several pages of shoes photographed and organized lovingly with precise make, model and price below each one inform readers of all of the latest trends in high heels. As well, there are articles on what Broadway actresses are wearing as well as singers and other celebrities in a world I do not recognize. The magazine ends with giveaways for readers of merchandise featured earlier in the magazine. I'd love to see a picture of Janie S. from Scranton, PA with her $500 purse at the local Target. Alas, no such joys for me.

Lucky is lacking any commentary, social conscience or relevance to those outside its niche audience. Curious as to what rich people are wearing? Go watch virtually any Hollywood movie, you'll see it; there is no need to shell out good money for this. While the photography is decent, the subjects quickly become tiresome and Lucky is a magazine most people will be able to safely avoid. As for the target demographic, rich people with enough money to make $150 outfits for daily wear, do they truly read this magazine? I would have thought they'd have people for that.

For other magazine reviews, please check out:
Popular Photography
American Legion
The Nation


For other magazine reviews, check out my index page for an organized listing of all of the magazine reviews I have done.

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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