Men's publications have become unpleasantly bossy, issuing instructions on clothes and wellbeing like parade-ground sergeants-major.
Lifestyle advice, yes; orders, no thank-you, magazine editors
Until very recently, I was a bit of a binge reader of magazines. Chuck me something with a glossy cover and under 300 pages, and you could leave me be for a couple of hours with only the occasional cup of tea needed for watering.
Over the past couple of months, however, I've begun to slow down. For one thing, reading the writing of others only serves to remind me that I should probably be doing some writing myself. But the main reason is that there has been a trend of late that has started to bother me: the patronising instructions. And nowhere is this more prevalent than the supposedly sophisticated men's mags I once devoured so frequently.
Never a month seems to go by without countless pages dedicated to telling the reader "how to be a man", with an ever-confusing and often contradictory list of bullet points explaining exactly what should be done to achieve this goal. Do this, do that, wear this, don't wear that. I always thought that one of the first steps in becoming a man was making your own decisions about what to do and how to clothe yourself, but mum and dad have simply been replaced by a whole host of authoritarian magazine editors.
Then there are the dreaded "things you must do when you are in your 20s/30s/40s" lists, which often only serve to highlight just how immature I am. Apparently, now having passed the 30 threshold, I should rather be seen dead than in a T-shirt sporting a daft slogan, a move that would consign at least 60 per cent of my wardrobe to the dustbin. Watches, too, are supposedly important. According to the glossy monthly oracles, by now I should own at least one hideously expensive timepiece and not - as I do - a colourful collection of Casios. Then there's what to drink and eat and how to drink and eat it, how to behave in front of women and countless other rules and regulations for "being a man" that would seemingly have the entire male race behaving like robotic George Clooneys in matching uniforms.
By all means, give me friendly suggestions - advertisers have been doing so for decades. Print a few pictures of a successful-looking bloke in a smart shirt next to a hot blonde and, somewhere down the line, I'll probably buy a smart shirt. But don't bark orders at me like a boot camp drill sergeant in media specs and a cardigan.
Because you know what people do when they don't like being told what to do? Yes, they do the opposite. Keep shouting instructions at us and we'll start coming to work in Speedos, eating with our mouths open and generally being obnoxious barbarians. And nobody wants to see that.