Lucky: Consumption without Consequence

Lucky: Consumption without Consequence

Kim France wouldn’t blush over her new magazine, Lucky, even if pink cheeks would flatter the posh outfits she adores wearing. As editor-in-chief of the latest craze to hit women’s magazines—a publication devoted solely to shopping–-she proudly asserts that it is not merely another fashion magazine encouraging unrealistic desires, but a tool that can help young, upscale women realize their fantasies. It picks out the season’s favorite fashions before they hit stores, tells you where you can buy them, and for how much. It even comes with a page of stickers labeled “Yes” so that you can keep track of the items France says “you absolutely must have and just might die without.” “Find it. Love it. Mark it. Buy it.” It’s that simple—and that shameless.

Simple, shameless and, France would add, harmless. In the New York Times in May, she described the new Condé Nast publication as a hobby magazine. “It’s the same way that you might look at a golf magazine and see a spread of nine irons.” The difference is, of course, that you buy golf clubs to improve your game, but you shop, according to France, simply for the “very real pleasure” of shopping. The debut Spring/Summer issue, with a circulation of three hundred thousand, gives readers the impression that they are fine-tuning a necessary skill—learning where to go, which brands to buy, and what “lingo” to use when doing so. But it also makes no pretense about promoting perhaps the only hobby that requires its participants to have an almost mindless and certainly careless attitude. There is no analyzing the approach on the brutal seventeenth hole at Pebble Beach. If it feels good, you can send the ball flying into the water hazard and still be a winner. In order to master this sport, you need only be impulsive, thoughtless, obsessive—oh, and female, but that, the editors suggest, goes without saying.

What is disturbing here is the ruthless way in which women are targeted as unreasonable creatures: impractical, primal beings whose desires are constantly in flux; perhaps a “Greek goddess” one day and an “Italian screen goddess” the next, but always reliably “girly.” Countless captions refer to the “stuff we can’t live without” and the fashions we’d “kill for.” Face to face with these objects of affection, women seem incapable of responding to them rationally or even without breaking a sweat. The writer of one article on Web shopping whimpers, “I am trying to remain calm. Breathing, breathing. Here is a lovely site from the renowned gift shop of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.”

That women are hardwired to buy things—often anything—here precludes them from making reasonable decisions or from even thinking at all. “Impractical,” for instance, is used alongside “elegant” and “addictive” to describe the advantages of a particular shoe style. Reflection is an empty term that come...

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