Why People Magazine is Porn for Women

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It’s here! It’s here!

I get SO excited when my monthly subscription to Real Simple arrives. I immediately start to fantasize about when I will get to pour a nice glass of red, draw a bubble bath, or put on PJs to curl up on the couch and flip through those glorious pages. Sometimes the magazine will sit on the counter for many days until just the right time. The setup has to be perfect (i.e.- no kids/distractions and enough time to get through it) or it doesn’t feel quite lavish enough. Another one that does it for me is People Magazine. Other popular magazines amongst women that evoke the same arousal are US Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Self, Health, Oprah, and Elle.

Why does it give women such a rush to get to read these magazines?!

We ladies aren’t necessarily aware of why we have so much fun reading these magazines, but may just simply feel entertained perusing the fashion trends or the love story du jour and that’s enough. The obvious things out of the gate that may speak to our enjoyment is that since we have particularly busy schedules, there is often little time to devote to pleasure reading. Therefore, it feels like a luxury to look at pictures of celebrities, read compelling stories, and get ideas for recipes or house organization. Seriously, containers with clean lines totally light our fire. Magazines are relatively short, so we can actually accomplish this reading by getting front to back in one sitting. It also allows us to escape our stressors and get lost in other’s tales, whether high or low– though it has been proven that we actually enjoy reading about celebrity downfalls the most. These magazines contain both real life articles that either feel relatable or on the contrary, put our own problems in perspective. So we can finish each edition with takeaways that include different ideas for resolving a situation or outfit choices for a night out, advice we can give friends or practical ways to help others in need, gratitude for what we have or items to put on our wish lists.magazines

And let me tell you how many recipes I’ve made out of the pages I’ve torn out of these magazines. Approximately zero. But, it’s always exciting to think about how easy it could be to make an extravagant looking meal in just twenty minutes. To be clear, this is another fantasy as it typically takes me at least three times as long to accomplish something in the kitchen than it should. I have purchased a couple small things mentioned in the fashion pages and I’ve even shown some useful articles to clients in session. Mostly, and most importantly, I’ve felt myself decompress when flipping through any of these publications.

Of course there is science fueling all of this, as well. The cast of neurotransmitters that contribute to the experience for women when we get lost in a magazine are the same as in any satisfying and pleasurable situation. They include serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins.

Dopamine is the motivation chemical that helps control the reward and pleasure centers of the brain. It involves anticipation and expectation and drives us towards our goals and desires and gives a rush of reinforcing pleasure when these are accomplished. We are exposed to novel stories/images/products when scanning a magazine and find this exhilarating.

We’re also inspired or reminded of gratification we’ve previously sought and received. The serotonin chemical is released when we feel important or meaningful, including even when we reflect on past achievements.

Oxytocin is necessary for creating solid bonds and within our social interactions. Even when we receive a gift, our oxytocin levels rise. So when we connect with certain stories or feel moved we may experience this, along with then being able to talk about relevant stories around the water cooler.

Lastly, endorphins are released to relieve fear or sadness in response to pain and stress, just as when we laugh or even anticipate laughter. So, giggling at a funny article or a ridiculous “who wore it best?!” outfit choice is not just amusing, but alleviating distress.

Who knew all of that was taking place in the brain when we’re kicked back and turned on by People magazine?! No wonder it feels so good.

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