February 2008

Jennifer Johnson

magazine whore

Pink. You know. For girls.

“PINK represents more than a color. It’s a badge of honor celebrating a global mission of equity and opportunity -- a movement acknowledging all that women are today and will be tomorrow.”

At least, that’s how the website for PINK magazine describes the color. For me, I’m a bit sick of everything targeted at women being swathed in pink or featuring a little cartoon drawing of high heels. Aren’t we discriminated against enough without covering ourselves in cutesiness?

But, PINK Magazine -- which launched in 2005 but is just now reaching the end-cap displays of my local Barnes & Noble (my personal arbiter of magazine success) -- is here to change all that. Targeted at wealthy businesswomen, PINK magazine will “flip the word PINK on its ear to give it and us a metamorphosis -- just as American culture did with words like black (black is beautiful) and gay (gay pride).” After all, according to PINK, women around the world have been shackled to the color pink since “the day [they] were born and a pink cap was placed on your head.” But why cast off the pink handcuffs that life has burdened us with when we can embrace them, perhaps accessorizing them with shoes and a sassy handbag?

Enough of the color wars, let’s look at the magazine. PINK is a lime green and bubblegum pink confection. Honestly, the magazine is beautiful with creative typeface, lots of muted colors and a fun design. But all I can think as I flip through this is how girly it is. I understand that we’re “flipping the work PINK on its ear,” but I’m not convinced that a magazine that looks like it belongs in the bedroom of a thirteen-year-old Hannah Montana fan is altering anyone’s perceptions about the color pink. In addition, sometimes the design gets in the way of the content. Bizarre usage of italics in sub-titles and over use of a highlighting effect (yes, some articles appear to have already been highlighted for your reference -- how convenient, now I don’t have to read it!) are distracting, if not outright confusing. (I re-read the subtitle of an article on adultery out loud three times, trying to get the emphasis right: “What’s driving the increase in businesswomen who commit adultery?” What’s driving the need to randomly italicize half the words in this subtitle, I wonder?)

The content is better, with a series of articles on topics ranging from investing in the stock market (do it!), women philanthropists (you can stop feeling guilty and powerless about your millions of dollars by giving it away! -- wait, why exactly would millions of dollars make me feel guilty and powerless?), the rise in adultery by female businesswomen (affairs make women feel more powerful) and whether or not women are finally making more than men (we’re not). For the most part, the features are well written and interesting, although not exactly groundbreaking.

PINK also features a centerfold of sorts -- a two-page spread photo of Julie Greenwald, President of Atlantic Records. Alongside Ms. Greenwald’s photo is your typical “how does she do it all?” piece featuring an annotated version of her daily schedule (“8 p.m. -- Goes out to dinner at Apizz in the Bowery and then to see one of the label’s acts perform live.”) that you see in nearly every women’s magazine these days. I imagine that articles like this are supposed to be inspiring, but I always find them insipid and boring -- just another wealthy businesswomen talking about how busy she is in an American culture that reveres the game of “dueling to-do lists.” I’d rather see a story about how she got her career off the ground or about a pivotal decision she made that changed the rest of her career than a laundry list of meetings. I’m not the president of a company, but I have a similarly busy daily schedule -- clearly it’s more than just meetings that make the executive tick. If this magazine is really about supporting businesswomen, let’s give them some information that they can use.

PINK is pretty and polished, but, after reading the February issue, I certainly haven’t reformulated my opinion on the color.