April 30, 2007

Health Magazine: WTF happened?

Once upon a time, many, many, years ago, Crabby subscribed to a health magazine called Hippocrates. There weren't a lot of health magazines back then, and this, despite its nerdy name, was very cool. Crabby loved it. Written for intelligent non-doctors, its pages were full of actual health and fitness research, careful analysis, and sensible suggestions.

And it was fun to read. It really was! The writers were skeptical and amusing and irreverent. (Mary Roach, whom Crabby greatly admires, was one of the contributors. She's been at Salon, and wrote darkly funny books like Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Don't miss her).

But over the years, the magazine "evolved." And by "evolved," Crabby means: changed its name a bunch of times, sold it's soul, and went straight down the toilet.

The sad thing is, it's still probably one of the best women's health magazines out there. Please, dear readers, tell Crabby she is wrong and there is a better one and she will gratefully subscribe.

Let's just look at some of the informative articles on the cover of the most recent issue of Health: "The Most Slimming Swimsuits EVER," "Secrets to frizz-free hair," "Hotter Sex Tonight," and "A nice, firm butt in 10 minutes!"

Crabby is curious about that last one, having not read the issue yet. Firm butt? Ten minutes? Really? Is lamination involved?

Health has turned into a f*cking "Women's Magazine," not a health magazine. Page after page of make-up and fashion tips, skinny plastic-looking models, superficial takes on complex health issues, insanely unrealistic promises.

To be fair, there are usually a couple of good articles in there. But the whole magazine used to be good, and now it's mostly crap. (Crabby still reads it, but grouses the whole way through).

She can't even entirely blame the people who run Health magazine, because they're only responding to the market. They tried being informative instead of superficial and lame-brained, and it didn't work for very long. They couldn't sell enough copies that way, so they had to switch to what women would pay to read.

And most women apparently want another fluffy beauty magazine. Because Lord knows there aren't enough of those out there already.


So readers, ponder any of these questions: is Crabby just being a bitch? Do any of you read health magazines, or do you get your info elsewhere? Alternatively, has anything else you used to like gone down the toilet?


  1. I used to read health magazines allot. I did love prevention magazine, now I think, eh. The information used to be very good and intelligent. Now, it is a little dumbed down, I guess. Still okay. I have had a subscription for a long time and used to love to get them in the mail. Lately, I sometimes forget to even break the plastic wrapping on them.

  2. Fluff makes the world go 'round, Crabby.

    We are told we want shallow, single-bite info that we can use right away for quick fixes. Then we clamour for it so it is thoughtfully provided to us. We're told we want it, then we do want it, and then we get it. We are satisfied and don't have to worry about any of that infernal thinking getting in the way. It's probably what frizzes our hair.

  3. "A nice firm butt in ten minutes"?

    Hey, I've a spare five minutes later. Can they do anything for that little roll that spills over the waistband of my jeans?

  4. Hi all,

    Samantha--yeah, prevention has some good stuff sometimes too. But they also seem to team up sometimes with really scammy-looking "special offers" which it kind of looks like they're endorsing. The kind that promise to tell you "secrets" about things if you send them your money. yuck. Thanks for stopping by!

    Leah--well, my hair's not frizzy which probably means I haven't strained my brain with too much of that infernal thinking. I bet yours is though.

    Dawn--I get that same little belly roll and damned if any of these magazine subscriptions have been able to melt it off. Usually takes laying off the cupcakes for longer than I can stand, so most times I just pretend I don't notice it.

  5. HerSports and Women's Health aren't too unbearable and I usually get a few good product tips out of them, like Java Juice.

    Muscle and Fitness Hers is a mixed bag. Great weight training tips and articles, but the mag is nauseatingly full of oiled-up female bodybuilders in skimpy bikinis, and ads for creatine and other suspect supplements. But I've never seen them run makeup tips, maternity fashions, or articles on How to Seduce Your Dream Man, so maybe that balances it out.

    My favorite fitness-related magazines are unisex: Runner's World, Running Times, Bicycling, Triathlon, etc. The running mags tend to be shoe-obsessed, but it's always something. :-(

  6. Hi Bunnygirl,
    Is Women's Health different from Health? God, I'm getting them all confused. Must check out HerSports, though I'm more an exercise gal than a sporting one.

    I used to love Runner's World until my knees gave out. Now it's too painful to see all those happy runners. And I suppose there's probably a walking magazine, but really, what is there to say about walking? Even the dorky fast kind that I do?

    And I agree--unisex mags tend to be a little less silly.

  7. OnFitness and Oxygen are two favorites of mine. Oxygen is ad-heavy though. That reason alone doesn't make me want to renew my subscription. OnFitness has less ads mainly because it is bi-monthly.

  8. Thanks goinggone!

    I'll have to check these out. Even though I bitch about them, I'm always looking for new health magazines.

  9. It's not a health magazine, but it WAS a pretty good, healthier version of a snack treat.

    The Starbucks Low Fat Vegan Brownie used to be moist and delicious and smothered in icing and 3 Weight Watchers Points! Now, the 'same' brownie is no longer vegan, drier than a popcorn fart and 6 Weight Watchers Points!

    Why? WHY must they change the good stuff?

  10. Ladyshanny, thanks for stopping by!

    And that brownie situation indeed sounds outrageous. I wonder if they were lying before? I think any accidentally calories consumed before should be exempt from consequences--it's only fair.


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