Whoever runs your Facebook Fanpage asked a question yesterday that caused quite a commotion. You all wanted to know what everyone thought of the cover for the March issue.
First things first...I was thrilled a new issue hit stands for one reason: it replaced the February issue. The "cover model" you selected for that one was not a spouse, but a military service member. He was chosen as the "hottest husband in uniform." This cover was embarrassing. As a military spouse I took it as a slap in the face. Saying something like "EXTRA, EXTRA! We've got pictures of hunks for you to drool over!" only supports the idea that all of us military wives are just man-hungry-bon-bon-eating-female-porn-addicted slobs. Whether my husband is home or away he is my dreamy man in uniform. I don't drool over other men in uniform, they are like brothers to me. I hate the idea that civilians at book stores were seeing that February cover and assuming that all military wives out there are like that. My husband is hot...but I'm most proud of what an amazing soldier he is.
Reactions to this month's issue were vocalized. Some tactfully, others not so much.
Many people couldn't get passed the cover model's make-up. It was over the top, but the thing that got me was the fashion spread. Spouses aren't actually featured anymore they are just dolled up for pictures. No interviews or inspiring stories, we only get to see how a stylist dresses them.
More and more you all are doing these "fluff" pieces. You apparently think you are doing us a favor by spending your resources on fashion, beauty and fitness features. I feel like you are doing the military community a great disservice. A few have been telling you all "We'd love more fitness articles." Or "I want to see homecoming fashion." These articles that you have been doing would be okay if they were less frequent. The biggest problem is that someone has lost sight of what Military Spouse Magazine's purpose is. Wasn't it to bring information, support, and community to us? To make an intimidating place like an Army post seem less scary and more exciting?
Publishing these fluff pieces caters to one group of wives: they are the ones who romanticized marrying the military and 1, or 10, years later are shaking their fists at the world screaming "I'M MORE THAN JUST A MILITARY WIFE!" Yeah, I get that. There is more to me than washing ACU's or shaking the Commander's hand. But that "more" part of me doesn't need Military Spouse Magazine. I love fashion...and to get my fill I read Vogue, Elle, or Harper's Bazaar. I like to stay fit and learn new make-up tips. So I pick up Self, Women's Health, or Allure.
I want, and need, advice on what to do when I meet a Brigadier General. I turn to....
Just Military Spouse Magazine. There are no others out there that can help me in this area.
I've been married to the Army for 4 years. I'm not from a military family. I've never lived on or near a post. I never knew the Army could keep my husband from living with me for 3 years until it happened.
There are others out there like me. We don't know much about the military life, its do's and don'ts, or how we will make it through the next 20 years. All we know is that those who have gone before us are supposed to be paving the way.
Is that path paved with patent leather shoes and heavy eye make-up? Is that all it takes to walk it? According to your latest issues...yes.
I beg, plead, and beseech you, Military Spouse Magazine...stop wasting our time and money. If your faithful subscribers are starting to say it only takes them 5 minutes to read an issue then toss it in the trash, there is a problem.
Be what we need you for.
UPDATE: I did receive a response from Military Spouse Magazine at 8:23 this morning. They read my email very quickly :P The bottom line of what they said was a whole lot of "We listen to our readers." My huge issue now is that either they are trying to be sly or just aren't doing their research properly. If you ask a group of women "Would you like to see more beauty and fashion pieces to balance out the 'heavy' topics?" then of course you will get many who chime in and say YES! YES! However....the question should be "Would you like to see more non-military articles INSTEAD of the military lifestyle articles people currently purchase our magazine for?" Do you see the difference? Military Spouse is missing the mark. If these "light" articles were in addition to what the magazine used to published, then great. I still wouldn't pay much attention to their fashion advice. I don't go to an OBGYN to hear the benefits of flossing my teeth everyday. But still, if they were to make the magazine bigger that would be okay. That other stuff would be what it is...extras.
As (maybe) 1 final note...they claim that they only use real military spouses for their cover and photo shoots. Not so. If you read (what little there is to read) of the fashion spread you learn about the 4 ladies who "star" in it. Each one is named and then a title or description is given. The cover girl actually is a spouse. So is one of the other women. Then there is one who is described as "the daughter of a former Air Force brat." Um...basically she is the daughter of someone who used to be a brat. She's not a military spouse, she herself is not even a military brat. Wanna know who she is? She's the daughter of the stylist who worked on the shoot. Light bulbs going off for anyone??? The last women isn't listed with any description or military connection.
From their response:
"What I can also say is that our goals with the cover (and images) used for the magazine is for it to be representative of our entire community. Different ages, different races, different backgrounds, different lives. We've had cover models that are in their 50s, as well as this most recent 19 year old. What connects with one person may not connect with another...but, that's ok, because next issue or down the line, one will. We have to have something for everyone. What is important is the content within, and we hear what you are saying to us. Keep your ideas coming, ok?"
Good job connecting with the community.
And one last thing...they say people want more "feel good pieces." There are plenty of feel good stories and experience in the military community. Not every issue needs to be packed with dark stuff like "What to do if your husband gets _________ in action." They are over looking the beauty of the military community and that has made me completely lose faith in Military Spouse.
ETA: I've had many people ask what they can help do with this issue or just say that they also want to see a change happen. I just responded again to Military Spouse's email and I'm waiting to see if anything comes of it. The biggest thing I think that everyone can do is tweet about this, email Military Spouse Magazine, post blogs about it, link back to this letter...whatever. Word just needs to be spread. More people need to speak up.