Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The key step in wealth building: Just take that first million, and invest it in...

Just got my July issue of Allure magazine. (Yes, and I devote a fair portion of my evenings to watching Lifetime. And yes again, I am straight. At least, last I checked.) The main sell line on the cover holds out the promise, "Get Sexy," reinforced by a very nice photo of Kate Beckinsale.* Maybe it's just me, but I think my tips for "getting" sexy might start with this:

Step 1. Look like Kate Beckinsale.

I'm not trying to be a wise-ass here, and I also apologize if, in making that observation, I've scraped at the sensitivities of our female regulars. I'm merely advancing a serious and eminently sensible point. Beauty secrets that promise to teach all comers how to get sexy--and highlight women like Kate Beckinsale--are a little bit like, well, articles that promise to help men get in shape, and feature cover shots of Schwarzenegger in his pre-political glory. Or, to be even more equitable and mainstream about this, it's like the men's magazines that continually vow to show a guy how to dress to make an impact, then drive home the point with a photo spread designed around a George Clooney or a Denzel Washington. (There's also the Esquire tip sheet on shirts, anchored by a shot of Redford as Gatsby.) If you're out to make an impact, I gotta believe it helps if you're George or Denzel in the first place. Ya think?

This is yet another deception (albeit, perhaps, one of the more subtle ones) the self-help movement chronically perpetrates on its ever-hopeful audience, while at the same time keeping 'em coming back for more. For most of us, holding out the lure of becoming Beckinsalian or Denzelesque is sheer fantasy. You know it, I know it; they know it. But, again, we just want so badly to believe. And we'll pay good money, over and over again, to people willing to feed that illusion.

* What makes the whole thing even more bogus is that the article on getting sexy has nothing to do with the lovely Ms. Beckinsale, per se. There's a separate feature on her, in her own right. But clearly the magazine is playing off the juxtaposition of the provocative cover line and Beckinsale's looks and general image.

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