How the heck should I know? Do you want to read about beauty? Fine, I’ll tell you my favorite story about beauty. It involves an article I once read in a woman’s magazine where different women were asked for their beauty secrets and the famous Estonian actress Eve Kivi said, “fresh sperm.”
My how this intrigued me because Eve Kivi is still so beautiful and mysterious, and I was just up all night thinking about how a woman in her seventies maintains access to a supply of fresh sperm. How could this be? Surely there had to be more than one supplier. Could there be some underground trafficking in sperm-based beauty supplies? Was Sophia Loren in on it too? Catherine Deneuve?
This went on until one day when an acquaintance came by, a young guy, and he told us about how he had attended an event with Ms. Kivi and how they “really hit it off.” “Really hit it off, huh?” I said. “Yeah,” he answered. “She was really cool.” “Really cool, huh?” The bells rang in my mind when I heard this. They rang quite strongly. I didn’t have the courage to ask. I could only wonder.
So maybe you don’t want to read more about beauty, fine. But what else are they serving up in the magazines these days? New sex tips and positions? This is a topic that always fascinates me because it seems to being a recurring motif in all women’s magazines, with eye-catching titles like, “Sizzling Sex Tips That Will Drive Him Wild.”
Then there are sex positions. I don’t know who is inventing them. Or are they being rediscovered from some ancient Hindi texts? Either way, it is fascinating. How often it is that I encounter articles with titles like “Thirty Things to Do with a Naked Man” or “77 Sex Positions in 77 Days.” But it’s still just sex. There is no need to make it as complicated as Estonian folk dancing. I’ve found through the years that the basic positions suffice. The positions in the magazines are mostly just weird party tricks, if you ask me, especially if you have children and you are lucky if you can get any sex at all!
Astrology. That’s always fun. I don’t think it’s completely useless. It helps to simplify life. You can stereotype whole groups of people on the basis of under what sign they were born. Here’s my take on the signs: Aries — you’re just full of surprises; Taurus — I’m not arguing with you; Gemini — who are you? Make up your mind!; Cancer — it’s okay to leave the house once in awhile; Leo — it’s not all about you all the time, or … maybe it is; Virgo — you don’t have to clean the house every day, you know. You can do it every other day; Libra — this is not a real sign, it’s just a placeholder between Virgo and Scorpio; Scorpio — there is no such thing as too much sex; Sagittarius — I thought we were best friends!; Capricorn — you’re just a pain in the ass; Aquarius – you’re a weirdo and no one is interested in your opinions; Pisces — I love you, but you’ve got to stop getting yourself into trouble.
Of course, 90 percent of any women’s magazine revolves around cosmetics. There are the advertisements, and then there are the stories about average ladies trying the products in the advertisements. Never have I understood this fixation. It’s one of those feminine mysteries that only people with two X chromosomes can understand. And yet the little girls in our family are enamored with cosmetics. How many times has one or the other stolen Mommy’s make-up kit? The eldest one is coming up to me with dark circles around her eyes and strawberry-red lips and asking me what I think. What do I think? I think you’re wasting your time. I think women look their best au naturale. That’s what I think.
That also goes for fashion, another topic about which I know nothing. If you have any questions about fashion, go ask Urmas Väljaots. He lives in Paris and wears scarves in the summer and is familiar with the names Christian Dior and Coco Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier and Karl Lagerfeld.
The themes of feature articles in women’s magazines are rotated in and out of service. How about – what do foreign men think of Estonian women? Or what do foreign men living in Estonia with Estonian women think about Estonia? Honestly, I feel as if I am living somewhere near the North Pole. It’s freezing out half the year, everything is covered in snow and icicles, my wife looks like an Eskimo, the language looks like Inuit or Greenlandic, and the cuisine consists of blood and herring. But there’s more, articles about self empowerment and anger management, girls who grow up without fathers, chicks who prefer bad boys, sexual politics in the workplace, and dispelled myths about body fat. You may be who you are, so they say, but with enough fashion advice and tips on hot new sex positions, you can at last become the person you always should have been.
Don’t forget the polls. Once I read a worn magazine in the bathroom of a publishing house where women were asked with which Hollywood star they would most like to do it. And all of the little check marks were next to George Clooney’s name. If only I could have shown the results to Mr. Clooney! The best poll I ever took in a women’s magazine concerned the Spice Girls. Supposedly my choice in Spice Girl reflected my attitudes toward women. Guys who liked Baby Spice were into younger women. Men who liked Posh Spice wanted someone more sophisticated. I chose Sexy Spice. It said that I had a one-track mind!
Every women’s magazine is not complete without two things: love stories about famous couples and columns by edgy writers. As for love stories, how about Pablo Picasso and Fernande Olivier? Or Pablo Picasso and Olga Khokhlova? Or Pablo Picasso and Marie-Thérèse Walter? The well never runs dry. And as for columns by edgy writers, nowhere else can you find such obnoxious tripe, dressed up and made to look as if it offers the general public some deeper insight or valuable perspective. These so-called columnists are charlatans, enemies of the human race!
I don’t know how they sleep at night.
2 thoughts on “what do women want to read about?”
I’m an Aussie ex-Journo/Pop rag writer currently in Antsla of all places, though I was in Tartu for a good 8 months until my Estonian girl graduated this year. I feel your pain in regards to obnoxious tripe; I used to work for a male readership equivalent.
I don’t know how it is here in Estonia but back in Australia, both male and female writers know very well that they are a part of the “problem” – but a persons gotta pay their iPhone bill somehow, right?
Anyway, I thought this would be an appropriate time to reach out and say, “hi”. I’ve read My Estonia and I get through a few pages of the sequel every time nature calls. I’ve been living here for a little over a year now and I must say, My Estonia hit the nail on the head for many of the experiences I’ve had… especially with the people. Perhaps more so coz I’m a brown asian.
I’m seeing a lot more foreigners here since last year and another Aussie (also brown) also shares many of the things I had to go through. And it seems that a common trait of foreign lover boys are those who are self-sufficient and usually in digital fields. Such as myself; freelance writers, developers designers etc.
I’ve recommended your book to as many people as I can. Perhaps a My Estonia 3 is in order, from the perspective of a coloured person? lol
Hello there, Mr. Barrymore, thanks for reading — we are thinking of putting together an anthology of stories by foreigners in Estonia. You are welcome to submit. E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll go from there.