The September issues

One of my favorite memories of my mother involves sitting on her bed and reviewing the September issues of all the big fashion magazines. Then, as now, they were as thick as phone books and full of fantasy—a kaleidoscope of color, texture and style.

We studied every page from the front cover to the last, including and most especially the ads (which she taught me were simply “editorial” in another form). For once, there were no battles over food, (my) weight or failure to meet her standards. We were simply art lovers in search of visual stimulation.

Back then, there was no body positivity movement. Diversity—ethnic, gender, age—was not a thing. It was pretty binary: skinny, young white women in front of the camera while mostly white men dressed, photographed and styled them.

But I was unaware of that then. I just loved what I saw before me and, more importantly, those rare intimate moments with my mom. Now, of course, things have changed. Ashley Parker and her mannequin sisters are redefining beauty at every size. “Glamour,” long an advocate of women’s achievement, is committed to recruiting more women behind the camera (Hollywood, are you listening?) and “Teen Vogue” has been on the forefront, in this category, of speaking truth to political power.

After a break of many years when I didn’t look at them, I recently picked up a couple of September issues that caught my eye at the checkout aisle at the grocery store. And I’m happy to see that the clothes are still glorious (if not mostly out of reach). The makeup, still beguiling. And the ads, still worth deconstructing. (After all that maternal training, is it any wonder I turned out to be an advertising copywriter?)

But there’s more substance now to the fluff. More thought-provoking and inspiring articles along with the eye-popping accessories. More women of all ages, sizes, backgrounds and outlooks. I wish my mother were here to see it.

Like any high-calorie treat, these September issues are meant to be consumed sparingly, without guilt. You don’t have to look like the girls and women on those pages to be beautiful. You are beauty enough. Instead, just enjoy them for what they are—a buzzy, blingy distraction designed to delight your most aesthetically minded { self }.

What are some of your best September memories or rituals? Share them in the comments below.