Monique Thorpe
December 21, 2014 11:00 am

One sleepy Saturday of the Australian winter this year, I was planning on having a relaxing day. Just me, my book and a glass (or two) of wine; I wanted to unwind after a busy week at work. I procrastinated getting out of bed by starting up my computer to read the day’s headlines and was stuck by the audacity of my social media feeds. Screaming at me through the screen was:

“Are you having boring sex?”

“5 signs your relationship is not going to last”

“6 Ways To Become Incredibly Sexy”

“5 ways to trick yourself into getting out of bed for a morning workout”

“7 dinner habits that are making you gain weight”

Without even reading these articles, the headlines alone made me feel instantly guilty. Was I being lazy for spending the day in the house? Was I having boring sex? Was it because my body was not sexy enough? Will my relationship last? Have I destroyed it all by eating too late at night? I started spiraling down a path of self-doubt and sheer panic.

The truth is that there is nothing at all wrong with my body, eating habits or relationship. These headlines just tricked me into questioning myself, my actions and my beliefs. This uncharacteristic instinct scared me, because I am generally a strong person, bordering on stubborn (if I’m honest with myself). I take pride in my decisions and lifestyle. I do not bow to social pressures and I respect my own opinions above most other people’s. If these headlines could make me doubt myself, what sort of damage were they doing to younger women and girls who do not have the conviction in their decisions that I do? What message was this sending to women who may be having a bad day and feeling particularly susceptible to criticism? This trend for women’s magazines to spurt out endless quick-fix lists genuinely scares me.

So in this, the lead up to Christmas and end of the year, lets just poke out heads into the world of traditional women’s media to see what messages we have been provided with in 2014.

“12 Dating Tips That Will Transform Your Love Life”

My love life is fine thank you. Even if it were not, your pearls of wisdom that include “consider dating your friends,” and “if you’re not into him, move on” would be of absolutely no benefit to me, or anyone I know for that matter. Thanks, but I’ll use my own initiative in choosing who to date, and when to end a relationship.

“11 quick moves for an insanely sexy back and arms”

Here to remind us that all women should exercise, not because it’s good for your health and boosts your energy levels, but to get a sexier back and arms. Message received and ignored.

“10 Ways to Get a Bodacious Butt”

It was not so long ago that all the models with a curved derriere were overlooked. But now, thanks to the Kardashians, that’s all we can talk about. The trouble is that this new trend is just as bad as encouraging women to be size zeroes. It’s all based on the ideal image of a woman, not the reality that we are a spectrum of shapes, sizes, colours, curves, bulges, bones, heights and muscles. Ladies, you don’t have to get any kind of butt. The one you have is just fine.

“9 Things Every Naked Man Wants to Hear”

Why are you telling me what a man wants to hear? Actually, why are you telling me what anyone wants to hear? Can we not encourage truth-telling and do away with this fantasy sex-talk? I hate that women are expected to be sexual vixens —can we not just be ourselves and enjoy the experience instead of worrying about telling him exactly what he wants to hear?

“8 Ways You’re Probably Using Your Curling Iron Wrong”

Thank you for presuming that I am an idiot. Maybe let’s rewrite the headline to “Great ideas for how to get more out of your curling iron” or even “How we suggest you use your curling iron,” because at the end of that day that is all that this article is. A suggestion of how someone else thinks you should look after your hair.

“7 Ways to Get Your Butt Back in Gear When You’re Feeling Zero Motivation to Work Out”

Ugh. This article is my nemesis. Don’t make me feel guilty for having a lazy day, or week, or month! I deserve it. I promise you that if you’re not feeling motivated to work out, none of the tips given in the article, such as “set performance-based goals” and “get a good influence” will assist. How about we focus on fun exercise and gyms that don’t make average-sized girls feel like they don’t belong. Enough with the guilt already, just let me spend Sunday in bed!

“6 Ways to Get a Flat Belly for Pool Day”

This extremely health conscious article includes tips such as staying away from cruciferous veggies and to take a half an hour bath with at east two cups of Epsom salts, as “[t]he salt pulls the water out of your body.” That is a great idea, why do we not encourage more women to dehydrate themselves in order to prepare for spending a day in the sun? This article should be on trial for promoting image above health concerns.

“5 Signs He’s Falling In Love With You”

There are so many things wrong with this. I really hope that no one actually takes the advice given in this article or the countless articles like it. Apparently the signs include him asking you for style advice and my personal highlight, “He Stops Getting Quite So Many Texts From Others.” This article then goes onto normalize the fact that the guy you’re seeing will have other girlfriends, or girls they are dating, and that it takes a lot for a guy to commit to one person. The analogy used makes it sound like the writer sees committing to one woman as a rather drastic measure with, “You have to be pretty sure you want out of the dating pool before you drain it entirely.” Charming.

“4 Ways to De-Bloat During Breakfast”

Get your mitts of my breakfast! It’s the start of the day and I will eat as many carbs, as much peanut butter and as much bacon as I like. I would like to see more women actually eating breakfast, anything to line their stomach before the first coffee hits. This article suggests we try a breakfast quinoa instead of oatmeal. I’m sorry, but life is too short to be punishing myself with a yogurt infused quinoa for breakfast, with a side of coconut water for a ~naughty~ treat.

“The Top 2 Things That Keep Women Up At Night”

The sweeping generalization that all women can be summed up in one sentence, one stereotype, is always a sore spot with me. According to this article, the top two things keeping women up at night are work-life balance and finances. I cannot help but feel that this article ignores a huge segment of the female population. Are you only a woman if you have a career? Sorry full-time mums and casual workers; you’re not really classed as women.

“9 Things You Should NEVER Say on a First Date”

First dates are hard enough, just relax and stop reading into everything that is being said, or not said. I’m sure I have muttered a few of these “no-nos” on dates in the past, because I’m not perfect. If the person I was on a date with doesn’t like my clumsiness and ability to put my foot in my mouth, then they know where the door is. It’s not up to me, or you, to change yourself to impress someone else, it’s about finding that person who adores you, and all the quirky things you say and do.

“3 Ways Arguing Can Be Good For Your Relationship”

Whilst the premise of the article is not horrendous, the content is. Apparently couples can view their partner’s perspective and learn to compromise through arguing. I’m fairly sure that arguments occur when both of these things fail to happen. Ladies, you do not need to start a fight in order to ask your partner to see something from your perspective. The best way to stop arguing with your partner? Stop taking relationship advice from magazines.

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