I know celebrity magazines and tabloids have been around for ages (here's a scandal sheet from 1957), and I've certainly seen them in checkout lines at the grocery store since I was a kid. But lately they—and a lot of their fashion and lifestyle magazine and TV cohorts—are really pissing me off. I think there are a few reasons.
First of all, they've proliferated wildly over the past decade or so, both directly (more tabloid rags) and indirectly (celebrity gossip appearing in other publications that didn't used to carry it, as well as on countless indistinguishable celebrity hack TV shows). Yet based on what appears on the covers, you'd think there were only maybe two dozen interesting people (Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears, and Paris Hilton, plus people who associate with or resemble them) in the whole world. It's an echo chamber.
Second, I have two daughters approaching adolescence now, and I can see how the relentless repeated messages from these sources could warp their perceptions of what is normal. My wife and I continue to point out the distorted perspectives as part of teaching our kids media awareness, but it's a fair bit of work.
Third is my experience over the past year, specifically with health and weight. Between the beginning of 2007 when I was diagnosed with cancer, and the end of July, I lost over 50 pounds. It's taken more than eight months to gain it back, sometimes requiring me to eat more than I actually want to.
Beforehand, I thought that my stable long-term weight of about 200 pounds (91 kg) was a little higher than it should be, but nothing to be too concerned about. Now 200 pounds seems like a lovely, wonderful weight, a healthy place for me to be, even with all my new lumps and bumps and scars from my treatments and surgeries.
So looking at the shows and magazines that are obsessed with the tiniest weight fluctuations and skin changes in celebrities grinds my teeth. These are trivial, pointless concerns—and what annoys me most is that it's not only obviously what sells, but it also invades my brain when I don't even want it to. Why is there even room in my memory for whether one or the other stick-thin actress has a pregnancy "bump"?
The magazines occasionally find their way into our house. I have occasionally flipped through them, usually in the bathroom. When I do, it's a physically unpleasant experience, like my soul draining out of my body. Ugh, and now it's turning me into a stereotypical grumpy complaining blogger too. See how poisonous these things are?