It gives us a way to find out what other women are up to, what they have achieved and how they manage to look 10 years younger than they really are - without plastic surgery (although you know that's a quick-fix option too, right?).
It gives a voice to those who know what it's like to lose a child/a husband/a job/their sanity and then rediscover love/purpose/their spiritual self/their mission in life or their ability to create interesting, stylish interiors.
There is much to be said for feeling connected, knowing that we're not alone, that others have experienced our problems and come out the other side, happier and stronger. The magazine world is about fighting our corner, standing up for who we are, how we live, what we believe in.
But while the words may give us one story, the images do something different. Flawless model perfection and fat-free celebrity thighs lurk around the editorial that urges us to love our bodies - and that flood of images repeats the same question over and over again: Are YOU measuring up as a woman? And if not, what are you going to do about it?
Am I over-egging the pudding here? I mean, with all that positive lifestyle stuff, surely we're OK? We can't be knocked off balance by a few fashion shoots and some celebrity gossip - can we? And yet strangely, we are...
The average woman spends 31 years of her life trying to lose weight – and those involved in this multi-million pound diet industry are happy to give her all the support she wants (although clearly not the kind of support that actually works. 31 years? That's quite a diet plan!)
Then there are beauty products and, according to Vogue, "the pursuit of beauty has never been so easy". (Pursuit rather than achievement.) Helpfully, they also provide the model standard we should aspire to...
Of course, we recognise digital jiggery pokery when we see it, but on a subconscious level, is that what we're really thinking about when we look at those sylph-like, ethereal creatures with artificially-lengthened limbs?
It's known that the more we see something, the more it becomes the norm - and for that reason, those images do more than sell clothes.
So when teenagers are bombarded with images of how their bodies are 'supposed' to look and they haven't even fully developed yet, when children are dressed up as adults and used to sell clothes to grown women who now, apparently, should aspire to having the body and face of an adolescent; when beauty is something we are told we achieve through what we buy rather than who we are, it becomes apparent that by giving this glossy space too much credence, women allow themselves to be sold horribly short (or fat, or lumpy or just not beautiful enough) because we don't look like someone else.
As a result, we waste ridiculous amounts of energy, consciously and subconsciously, focusing on what we're not – energy that could go elsewhere, into something positive, rather than twisting inwards like a knife in the gut.
However, we live in a culture that's big on aesthetics. We like to smooth out rough edges, laughter lines, bulges and stretch marks.
Only 3%* of women in the UK are totally happy with their body - 90% actually get depressed because of it - but if every woman understood, accepted and loved herself (just as she is) and focused on eating for health and vitality not weight loss – what could we do with all that energy, liberated from its 31 years of imprisonment? I wonder - how might our world and our lives be different?
* Figure taken from a recent survey by REAL magazine.