The State of the Amazons


July 3, 2012 by Darlene McC

Good Morning Amazons.

My apologies for the radio silence; I spent last week busting it at work to earn a few days of wilderness in New Hampshire and am presently spinning my thoughts off as a train snakes me back down the Hudson. I love living in the future! Technology is grand.

The same technology that allows me to write this from my phone also allows us to create worldwide micro-communities. In the developed world we can segment ourselves in a way that (wo)man never could before – across thousands of miles we can find those like us and share ideas, feelings, and information.

Last week a woman contacted me after reading Urban Amazon and said “I’ve always been the only one like me that I knew of” – she was proud of her Amazonian-ness; but lonely in her singular existence. Maybe this is your experience too? I have been fortunate to know many amazing Amazons (my mom and aunt the first, surely). Yet few examples exist in media and television, with the recent exception of Dot Jones (Coach Beast on Glee) – though this international arm wrestling champion has yet to hit my magazine rack as a cover gal.

Modern technology has afforded us a gathering place, but now the task of what to fill it with? For some time womens “fitness” magazines have been pissing me off, however this months crop really burned my buns. The cover if the nation’s leading “health” rag was full of headlines that infuriated. Such gems as “your beach body week” and how a certain actress “got her bod while hating the gym”. Tell me something: whom is that magazine intended for if they have an article about how to get hot while loathing exercise? Or barking for the idea that you can get your beach body in 7-days of effort? Not me and probably not anyone who reads this blog. So what do we do about it?

I’m trying to visualize what content the ideal women’s health magazine would have. (Did you catch that hint in there? I bet you did, becuase you’re smart and that’s why I love you.) If we aren’t fed the self-depreciation, what are we left with? What would you want to see in an ideal health and wellness magazine? If Dot Jones was on the cover with her fanatic grin what would be inside? Would it have any of the fashion, pop-culture, or beauty content or would it be purely wellness? Is that content inherently exclusive, or is there a better way to do it?

I want to hear your ideas. Is there a magazine or blog that’s getting it right? Who is getting it horribly wrong and why? What are you starving for (and can I find a way to give it to you)? I want to grow Urban Amazon into a home for those who aren’t seeing themselves in the mainstream “health” zine, and I want to hear what you think that could be.

Share, ladies!

7 thoughts on “The State of the Amazons

  1. Jenny says:

    Just read your post and loved it. I’m a six-foot tall female athlete, and I have always been “off the charts”. I’ve made do by adapting and combining mens and womens averages to achieve my own average, and have finally learned to block out the height/weight charts for average men/women that have been in every Dr’s office I’ve ever been to. I haven’t yet found a singular magazine/ezine that reflects a womans body that I can relate to, but I have found scattered sources of inspiration by searching online. Technology is wonderful, as you say. I wish I had access to it in my formative years, but the point is, I do now, and I can find blogs such as yours, as well as learn about the more accurate methods of health assesment like body composition and body fat%, and examples of female athletes like Lindsay Vonn (6’0, 170 lbs) and Brigitte Nielson (6’0, 180 lbs – Red Sonja from the Rocky franchise!!!) who project a healthy and attractive body image I can attain and relate to. I can’t be the only one who is in this position. I bet your blog is attracting many, many readers who themselves model a new “Mainstream”.

    • UrbanAmazon says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience Jenny, I think you already know that it’s much like mine. I think often about my “formative years” and what a solid role model could’ve done for me then. (one secret hope of mine is to someday create the world that has one such model in it for my own hypothetical daughters)

      Now that we live in a world where we can shape our own influences (thank you, interwebs) what do you see that world as having in it? What does the language of that world sound like? What do you feel like you’re missing in your world and, if given the voice, what would you say?

  2. xdhaas says:

    I’ll tell you what I wouldn’t want to see… the word “skinny.” Also, no pictures of women weighing 100 lbs with every one of their ribs showing, holding 2 lb dumbbells talking about getting “in shape.” They are not in shape. And no “how to please your man.” There is enough focus on that everywhere else. I’d like to see a mag for women that is actually for women, not for men disguised as for women. I could also go for less pop culture. I don’t care how some celebrity lost her baby weight while paying $300 an hour for a private personal trainer in her own gym and another wad of money for a private chef, only to look like a skeleton with skin and silicone. No thanks.

    I’ve found some bits and pieces of good advice or good role models or whatever here and there, but I can’t think of a single source I can point to and say its gold. Yet when it comes to women’s “health” magazines, even reaching a bronze is pretty good. “Hers Muscle and Fitness” is decent. And I’ve heard “Oxygen” is too but I’ve never actually read that one.

    • UrbanAmazon says:

      “Skinny” has become one of those meaningless words to me – like the way “organic” came to mean nothing when the government decided to define and regulate it. Like describing the flavor of air.

      Xdhass, can you share a little more what you mean by “not for men disguised as for women”?

      Agreed with the celeb “health” references. I’m often surprised when celebs give health advice in magazines – yes, they are expected to care for themselves as part of their occupations; but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about for others OR that others have the resources they do.

      I hope you’ll hold UA to a higher standard and in the event that I let you down you’ll hold my feet to the fire 😉

      • xdhaas says:

        Skinny fat is what the word “skinny” usually means, or at least that’s how I’ve come to know it after looking at mags that use it.

        By things for men disguised as for women I mean all those women’s mag articles that focus on men. “How to please your man,” “how to catch the eye of the guy at the bar,” “how to look your best for your guy,” etc. I know that “pleasing your man” can obviously benefit the women too, but you see far fewer articles about how to make yourself happy, look good for yourself, your health, becoming a strong, independent person, reaching your personal goals, etc. A lot of articles are on how to “improve” yourself (if you happen to be female) for someone else’s benefit instead of the woman’s own. You know the sayings about how you have to love or respect yourself before someone else can? I agree with that, but mags often don’t give that impression. They seem to suggest that women can’t be fulfilled without someone else’s approval first.

      • UrbanAmazon says:

        I could not agree more on both counts! I also think of ‘skinny’ as to mean ‘scrawny’.

        The “things for men disguised as things for women” is something I noticed as a teenager. I’d read Cosmo or Seventeen and there would be a disgusting amount of instruction on how to make myself more acceptable for men; then I’d read Maxim or Playboy and there would not be a single instruction on how to reciprocate. It was implied (and sometimes overtly stated) that the way to improve your worth was to land someone worth having… my brothers were instructed on how to have more interesting hobbies, try new things, and land good careers. As a consequence I stopped reading those mags long before I reached their target age groups.

      • xdhaas says:

        Exactly. In order for a woman to improve herself she needs to land a good man, extra points if he has a good job. In order for a man to improve himself he needs to land a better job, a bigger paycheck, become better at sports, land a good looking woman, job irrelevant. I’ve noticed that a lot too, from pop and ‘health’ magazines to psychology textbooks. My curiosity led me to watch a reality show lately about self-improvement in terms of health. What I noticed, regardless of whether it was a man or woman saying it, was that they wanted to make sure they were alive and there for their daughter’s wedding and their son’s graduation or championship game or first promotion. Really said a lot, and I bet most people didn’t even realize it. I’d like to read a magazine that values a woman’s worth on her own two feet.

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