‘Zine Femineen

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My folks were frugal by necessity when we were growing up; Dad habitually traded in his paperbacks at the used bookstore and Mom shopped rummage sales when not sewing her own and our clothes. When I was 10, my mother took me along to a rummage sale in a church basement in East Hartford, CT where I came across stacks of 1950s-60s issues of Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Glamour and Seventeen magazines. What a find!  At last, definitive instructions on how to navigate my soon-to-be membership in the grown-up female world!  My mother hadn’t gone into much detail about such things, other than to assert how wonderful sex was going to be, but be sure to never get pregnant. Watching the changes in my girlfriends at school, I suspected there was much more to being an adult female than that – fortunately I now had additional resources from which to learn.

All the magazines were priced 10¢ each, but since it was the end of the day, the good ladies running the rummage sale let me have them for a nickel apiece, so I bought at least 20 of them, and then they threw in the remaining issues for free.  Seventeen proved to be too juvenile – much like American Girl – and Glamour dealt only with matters of appearance, which didn’t interest me much. In the 1960s, Cosmo still had short stories, but only Redbook could be relied on for full-length novellas. I got a lot more info from reading these tales than any editorial content which usually involved cosmetics I didn’t need and couldn’t afford.

I was reminded of my magazine addiction by this interesting blog post:


While the changing covers don’t tell the complete story, it’s obvious how each periodical’s value-set has intensified over the decades. In the 70s I wound up actually subscribing to Cosmo, and then to Ms, and more recently to More – but as the years pass, I find less and less of interest in what American journalism has to offer specifically to women, especially since so much of it seems to be blatantly or obtusely slanted towards increasing one’s sex appeal. There has to be more to life than that!?!!