Self-Disclosure to the Fifth Degree
Living Without a Goal: Mattering Without Being Useful

ABSolutely Obsessed: Men's and Women's "Health"?

In the checkout line at Whole Foods last week, I looked over and noticed a couple of magazine covers:



I was struck by a couple of thoughts: obsession over ab[domen]s does not appear to be gender specific ... and neither does sex.

Browsing around a bit for online images of the magazine covers, I was surprised to learn that [subscriptions to] Men's Health is considerably more expensive than Women's Health ($24.94 vs. $14.97, at I don't know whether that says more about the relative value of men's health vs. women's health, the circulation or ad rates of the magazines, or the appeal of the target demographic for each publication (all these are, of course, related).

In perusing a number of magazine covers for each, and the topics suggested by the headlines, I am a bit surprised that either of these magazines is popular at Whole Foods (whose racks also include Yoga Journal and What Is Enlightenment?) ... but this is probably due to my naivete with respect to the Whole Foods clientele. Eating and being healthy need not preclude looking healthy, and I may well have friends who subscribe to Men's Health or Women's Health (just as I may have friends who subscribe to Playboy or Cosmopolitan), but I'm feeling disillusioned about what seems to constitute "health" in these publications, and that Whole Foods would include these in their media mix.

[Update, 2006-01-05: An AdAge article today, "'Cosmo' Girl Seeks 'Men's Health' Guy" (subscription req'd), reports that

Cosmopolitan and Men's Health are plotting to swap editors for their May issues, giving Dave Zinczenko his way with a special section of Cosmo and Kate White a section of her own in Men's Health.

The article goes on to ask

But is the happy couple forgetting their friends? Cosmo has an automatic guy buddy in Esquire, as they're both published by Hearst Magazines. And Rodale's Women's Health and Men's Health obviously keep seeing each other at the gym.

So I now realize that Esquire would have been a more appropriate foil than Playboy in my original comment. Oh well, rant and learn...]

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