Same Story, Different Sell?

This image got posted in a Fitocracy group about body image, and it crystallizes some thoughts I’ve had about this toxic high-circulation magazine market.


Different magazines, published at different times, with almost identical cover pitches. Women’s magazines are bizarrely homogeneous in their content, with sometimes barely perceptible differences in branding.

These magazines are painfully repetitive, but in a quest for some kind of novelty they often run through all kinds of goofy flavor-of-the-moment solutions. Men’s magazines do something similar, and this phenomenon is a big contributor to people’s confusion about what works and what doesn’t. And then there’s the flaks for various would-be (and already-are) gurus, actively pitching more sketchy stuff on top of it.

I’d love to see a magazine about fitness that just built the repetition into the editorial calendar. November and December could be about stress management and family issues. January is “Tune up your eating habits” month. February is “Heart health.” Maybe March is something about the pros and cons of alcohol and how to keep it a safe part of your overall pattern. And so on.

The sheer variety of strategies that are effective for different people in handling these larger issues, combined with the developing science (physiology, behavior) around them, could provide a magazine with page after page of genuinely helpful information, month after month, year after year. It could be interesting, “fresh” (as they like to say), and good.

Too bad it wouldn’t sell ad pages.

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