Let’s Hear It for the Ladies (Home Journal)

ladies_home_journal.jpgWhen it comes to women’s magazines, readers have a smorgasbord to choose from. With all the titles out there, you could easily gorge yourself. Ladies’ Home Journal magazine is a longtime staple (and trailblazer) in this genre, but it wouldn’t be the first magazine I would pick up on impulse. It doesn’t have the flash of Cosmopolitan magazine, the glitz of Glamour magazine or the celebrity status of O, the Oprah Magazine. Despite its longevity–it was launched as a column in 1883 and evolved into a full-fledged publication a year later–it’s often labeled as a magazine for housekeepers and women past their prime. But while reading through a recent issue, I found the opposite to be true.

Sure, the cover touted more practical, down-to-earth content than the sex- and beauty-obsessed covers of other magazines, and the cover girl, Julianna Margulies (in a tasteful dress without a plunging neckline), spilled secrets on the joys of giving back instead of the usual gossipy fare. But there is something refreshing about a publication whose top features focus on healthy dieting, managing money, service and “how to feel blessed, not stressed.”

For women immersed in a multitasking world, Ladies’ Home Journal offers balance and simplicity. Unlike some magazines, which toss you about from section to section and drown you with more information than you can possibly use, this one lets you navigate through like you’re gliding across a lapping lake–each page flows seamlessly into the next. Departments are broken down into the straightforward categories of life, style, home, health and food, with a nice blend of newsy snippets and in-depth features.

My favorite recurring features (most of which fall in the Life department) are:
• Ladies’ Lounge: Fun contests like “Nominate America’s hottest honey (aka hubby),” plus links to online forums
• Feeling Great: Features devoted to…you guessed it: feeling great!
• Can This Marriage Be Saved?: Running since 1953, this column attempts to solve a problem faced by a married couple by examining it from the perspective of the husband, the wife and the counselor
• Make It Happen: Profiles on women who defy the odds to realize a dream
• Acts of Kindness: Anecdotes from readers touched by the good deeds of others

More than any women’s magazine I’ve read lately, this one puts a big emphasis on serving others (without sacrificing your sanity). It’s no wonder considering its history. The publication is famous for featuring the work of social reformers like Jane Addams, urging women to join volunteer organizations during World War II and encouraging political activism in the ’60s. Today in Ladies’ Home Journal, you’ll find loads of stories about women making a difference, from the orphan who returned to the halfway house she grew up in to help other kids in need to the newlywed who escaped a battered home to fight domestic violence as a police officer.

The magazine’s mantra, “Never underestimate the power of a woman,” is alive and well–and brings a big-picture perspective to a genre often convoluted by its focus on celebrities and self.

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Emily McMackin

About Emily McMackin

Emily McMackin is an editor, writer and perpetual storyteller with an incurable addiction to coffee, magazines, Neil Diamond and Caribbean travel. She resides in Music City USA (that's Nashville, Tenn., ya'll!), where you'll find her staking out live music, salsa dancing, scouring town for the best latte and working on her first No. 1 (book that is).