Vital Signs

Light Reading

Is it possible, in 50 words or less, to describe today's woman, the postfeminist 80's woman, the woman who will soon become the 90's woman? I'm glad you asked. The typical American woman in 1989 is divorced, in need of financial guidance, worried about her career, either agonizing about her biological clock or searching out paid caretakers for the children she has, insecure about her looks, and, most of all, traumatized in her relationships with men-. Oh, and she's also bolder, happier, and more self-possessed than ever. The 80's woman is a walking wreck who thinks her life makes sense because she has discovered "self-esteem."

This assessment is based on evidence from an authoritative source, one that's in the business of reflecting women's interests and addressing their concerns. I am talking about women's magazines, which have multiplied in the past decade until they now dominate the periodicals sections of bookstores. Today there are publications aimed at single women, older women, working mothers, female executives, and fitness-crazed women of all ages.

If proof were needed that the feminist movement has shifted women's priorities and concerns, the names alone of the newer women's magazines would be enough. While familiar standbys like Family Circle, , and Ladies' Home Journal are still around, they seem positively quaint next to Self,...

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