Unbecoming Southern Living…

September 9, 2010

In a land not far far away there used to be a great magazine called Southern Living. It was the pride and joy of these Southern United States. It had three corner stones that anchored the bar stool called Southern Living magazine. They all started with an S: Southern, Seasonal and Service. The magazine was filled with recipes, more than a 100 in some issues. Folks from all around the South knew it was Southern Living from its yellow logo and predictable covers. In December it was a white cake; in October the fall leaves and pumpkins welcoming the Fall. In April the purple flowers and in November, what else but a festive Thanksgiving buffet. Those were the days. There was no fashion, no beauty, no frills or thrills. Just seasonal southern service. The Soul of the South was inside the magazine, not only on the cover.

What happened to Southern Living? A redesign after redesign inched one step after the other away from its southern roots. The covers became as unpredictable as the southern weather. The recipes dwindled to a few. And to top it all off, this month ushers a new section focusing on looks, fashion and beauty. The killer is an article about blow drying your hair, exercising and losing inches all at the same time. This is NOT the Southern Living I have known for the last 27 years. This is not the magazine that most of my friends knew and loved. It is definitely NOT your mother’s magazine anymore, but it is also NOT your daughter’s magazine.

Southern Living has lost its soul. It is anything but southern. It is a shame to see a great magazine become so un-southern. The only solace is in the fact that there are a few folks publishing in the same town as Southern Living (in the not so far far away land), who are trying and succeeding in filling the void left by the magazine.

This is a cry from the heart, a first for me, to bring back Southern Living. Bring back the Southern in the Living. There are plenty of women’s magazines that deal with fashion, beauty and other lifestyle issues, but there used to be one and only one Southern Living. Bring it back, please.


  1. As a northener who has long loved Southern Living, I can only agree. I picked up an issue from the table the other day as my partner was making a pie. We commented on the unwoven lattice top pie on the magazine cover shot – seemed like such a ‘we have given up’ sort of laziness. I mean, I weave the lattice on my pies; it takes 60 seconds.

  2. While I agree that Southern Living has lost it’s identity and it’s way, I would go one step further to say it was never a good magazine. IMHO it only thrived and became the institution it was because there never seemed to be an alternative. It’s always been poorly/lazily written and designed publication. I never felt it captured the vibrant, diverse personalities that make up the South as I know it. Garden & Gun has done a far better job from it’s inception. SL has been attempting to play catch up but they lack either the ability or the freedom to make the bold moves that really need to be made to make this magazine even relevant again.

    I respectfully suggest, Samir that what SL really needs is not a look back to the past, but a courageous re-imagining of what the title could represent to the future of this region.

  3. Subscribe to Garden and Gun, weep not for SL.

  4. I was renewing my subscription just because I thought I “had” to read Southern Living. Then I realized I dreaded reading it every month because it wasn’t fun anymore. No longer a subscriber!!

  5. I WAS a subscriber!!! Not anymore!!! I loved all the wonderful recipes and beautiful pics for ideas to make your home and tables beautiful!!! Well, I think the world today focuses to much on appearance and now the magazine I use to love is doing it also!!!! Ugh!!!!!

    • Received SL for over 30 years, it is no longer being received, I miss the mag. Glad I kept the old ones from the 70 s and 80s. I get them out and re re-read them and makes me feel like the way it used to be.

  6. I tell you what, SL changing and taking their annual “football in the south” section that has always been part of their September issue along with Steve Bender telling us to get the rakes ready is about like a UA Razorback marrying an LSU Tiger. Just doesn’t work out too well.

    I guess I’ll go get some pine mulch and scrub my face for a healthy Southern glow!

  7. The old Southern Living Magazine was about Southern
    tradition. Everybody that was anybody had the latest copy in their home. Not only were there fabulous recipes, there were lovely little trip
    advisories and home designs and even football.
    Now it looks like a bunch of Yankees have taken over
    and another fine Southen tradition has gone forever.

  8. When my current subscription to Southern Living expires, I will no longer buy the magazine. It is no longer “Southern”. I have been told that many of the magazines employees from the South have been “let go”, some just a few years from retirement, etc. Mainly folks working for the magazine now were born and raised outside the South. So sad. The magazine is not even remotely anything like the Southern Living I have enjoyed all my life. So much for progress!

  9. Southern Living was the one magazine that didn’t remind me of the size of my thighs. I don’t mind a change in color, I don’t mind a change in the cover, but health and fitness articles???? Pu-leeze. I want guilt-free time perusing my favorite magazine.
    Bring back the old SL.

  10. We cancelled our subscription last year and I felt validated when I picked up this month’s magazine at the home of a relative. While I needed some information about muscadine grapes, I did not need to be encouraged to multi-task more than I already do- thigh toning while blow drying my hair!

  11. Walking down the magazine isle this afternoon a cover of Pumpkins and Fall Color caught my eye. I stopped to look, next to the Pumpkin/Fall color magazine was a cover that made me think me of a “Haunted House”. It was sad that I was not even curious enough to open the Southern Living Magazine to see what was inside. I however did purchase the Southern Lady Magazine and inside found articles I have been missing from my old friend, Southern Living. I wonder if the powers that be at SL are listening to their former readers? Do they even care?

  12. SL has always been a part of my life. My mom kept her copies in the living room readily available for all of us to flip the pages when TV wasn’t appropriate. I look forward to the fall issue and especially the travel articles and have used SL as a source when planning a trip. I DO NOT WANT any exercise tips and I have short hair so blow drying is a waste. Where is my ole SL!!!!

  13. Yes, I realized I don’t look forward to SL for anything but the recipes. My mother sends me the subscription each year, doing her motherly Southern duty. She swears by it. But when I heard that they are writing the back page essay in-house now, instead of drawing from the potent experiences of its readers, I was saddened. And exercise? Really? Don’t put recipes in the mag with real butter, cream and bacon grease, then tell me how to exercise away the calories. Not what I came to read. Sigh.

  14. I so agree that it is a vast disappointment when a magazine one loves up and changes to an unrecognizable publication. All sorts of things drive this, change in editor or publisher, advertising dollars, target audience, blah, blah, blah. I never subscribed but get the annual recipe books. With less recipes I wonder if the annual books will even continue? And I echo the sentiment that I don’t need SL to address my thighs, thank you very much. Leave my thighs alone, buster.

  15. I was offended by the fashion article, The Perfect Boots, in the October issue commenting on Mother/Daughter style. The mother states that her basic pieces are in black, brown and gray. We’re supposed to believe that it’s attractive to wear black, brown and gray all the time? I’d say that the mother and daughter are in dire need of a fashion color makeover.

  16. Very disappointed in Southern Living. Last year there was only one christmas cake. No longer have house plans in the magazine. And recipes are few and far between. This is not the Southern Living I have always loved, it is a unrecognizable publication.

    • I agree completely. Its good to know I’m not the only one who loved to look at the house plans. We let our subscription end. Southern Living did not inundate us with notices offering us renewal perks or anything. They really must not care. But then neither do we. I still have my old recipes to cherish at least.

  17. I can’t believe Southern Living is continuing to print this new version of the magazine! If it’s a dollars-&-cents decision (which it usually is), I’m okay with spending a little more money to get a better product. I don’t think I’m alone. The current product is CHEAP looking — not a “cut above” the other magazines (which it used to be). I miss the larger format, tons of good recipes and gardening tips, glimpses into well-to-do southern homes, feature articles on/by REAL southerners, etc.

    SL is now like all of the LAME “women’s magazines.” I cancelled my subscription this year. And like other folks, I saw a recent edition and don’t regret my decision.

  18. Um, isn’t this piece a few years late? Southern Living started sucking shortly after Time Inc. bought them.

  19. I am so glad to find that I am not alone in my sadness about Southern Living! I grew up in the South where it was required – and enjoyable – reading. It is now a pathetic “ladies” magazine written on a 6th grade level. Fitness and fashion tips? Awful. It is a shadow of its former self. I am letting my subscription lapse.

  20. The new Southern Living format leaves me cold. I have been a subscriber for over 20 years at least, but I am letting my subscription go. I sure leaves a void, but I am looking for an alternative.

  21. Samir, this is Jeff Ward publisher of Cooking Light and Weight Watchers now retired and living in Idaho. I was in the Miami Airport recently and saw a copy of SL and was shocked. Lindsay Berman (sp?) should not be the editor of SL. pathetic. As they’ve done for SO many years (Sunset) they strip a franchise and make it worthless. A real blemish on Jeff Bewkes.

    All the best,

    Jeff Ward

    • Hey Jeff,

      Do the folks now running the show at Southern Living realize how crappy its become when compared to the quality publication it was for decades? I’m one of those souls who had maintained a subscription since the 1970’s —– but no more. For years Southern Living offered great travel articles, practical gardening tips, regional historic highlights, and the best of southern cooking recipes (from the hands of readers, not a bunch of re-hashed recipes from a mediocre cookbook). The arrival of each new issue was just like a visit from an old and beloved friend. Unfortunately, all that’s in the past.

      • I feel the same. I and four of my friends have not renewed.

  22. January 18, 2013
    I recently had a problem with Southern Living Magazine. I called to change my address and they informed me it wouldn’t take place until April 1. After January our post office told us we would not get mail incorrectly addressed, that it would go to a dead letter bin, then trashed. I explained this to no avail, and the girl put on her manager someone named Angel, which she certainly was not. Then I asked them to cancel my subscription and send me a refund. I was told it would be .72 and how are 3 magazine months equal to .72 and they do not print checks for under $1.00 . Of course I cancelled but I am gonna send letters to every newspaper and even our Better Business Bureau to tell them I was told the labels were already printed! Can you imagine they will be getting three months of my money. Also said my renewal would be $36.00 when their sight shows $19.95 but get this, inside the magazine are the little cardboard reply with $1.35 an issue. Needless to say everyone I will tell I guarantee will never ever subscribe to a magazine who has customer service people who are virtually no help.


    Delores Young

  23. I have copies from in the 70s each and every issue and refer to them often. I no longer will subscribe any more after this year. Bring back the old magazine. It says “Southern Living”. That is what I want, not the latest fashions.

  24. I have also been very disappointed in the content of Southern Living Magazine and their customer service. I used to look forward to the arrival of the magazine for travel information, recipes, house plans, and articles about the south. I like Southwest flavors very much, but every other recipe now seems to use cilantro and jalapeno. This is not representative of all of the South. It took me over a year to get an address corrected. This is not exactly what I call good customer relations. I want the old Southern Living back. To me, it was much better.
    F. Farris

  25. Hello, I am a 34 year young Kentucky girl who has just started collecting vintage copies of Southern Living–and even I can tell you that Southern Living of yesteryear is the best. All of that stuff holds true still today, so why bother with the new paper thin copies that look like brochures? It’s all a bunch of ads anyways. Never again will I buy a current Southern Living. You’d be best suited to hunt down some old copies, and get a subscription to Garden and Gun!!

  26. This is an update! Complaints against the “new” Southern Living versus the old version should not cease! This month we got “pet style” tips as well as nearly half a book of “style tips” straight outta “Seventeen” magazine! And to top it off a green bean recipe that includes red curry paste and coconut milk? Granny is rolling over in her grave…laughing! So NOT Southern, unless it’s Southern India. The only reason I know what is in this issue is because my dear husband subscribed for me: I had stopped buying this fake-Southern rag some years back!

  27. The April 2017 issue has an IKEA ad with two gay men, one laying on the other’s lap. This has gone beyond not being the same magazine Southern Living once was! This is what our world has come to? So very sad and you bet I will not renew my subscription and I have already spread the word to my friends concerning this “sickness” they have resorted to! I am done with Southern Living! Trash and low quality magazine!

    • Yes very sad ad. I oted out as well

  28. Yep that IKEA ad done me in!! Plus a lot of my friends. Canceled right away. It had been my favorite magazine.

  29. I realize this was published seven years ago, yet even today I find myself going to the website, hoping for the magazine I remember. I haven’t subscribed in years, but still hope to see the magazine that I couldn’t wait to read and plan the next recipe we would try as I was growing up.

  30. I miss all of the things about the old SL mentioned by others, but I think the saddest change of all was when they stopped publishing Readers’ recipes. I felt like that was the most unique and special thing about the magazine. Through Readers’ recipes and holiday showcases, Southern Living was a place where people throughout the South (and those who were homesick for the South) could share and pass on Southern traditions with a community of other Southerners. The recipes were usually excellent and relatively simple – and you knew who’s kitchen or family each one came from. The holiday and gardening ideas were beautiful and realistically achievable – not ideas created in a design house made to compete with Town & Country. They have taken away the community we all shared and replaced it with an “all about Southern culture” primer (as though we need to be told?). No amount of chef-inspired creations, exercise how-to or haute couture will ever fix that schism. It’s perplexing that, in spite of the continuing decline in readership and sales, the poor souls seemingly grasping at straws to bring back SL success just can’t understand the crux of the problem. Well, how could they be expected to? …bless their hearts.

  31. People are odd in the things they remember (and don’t) and the things they cling to. Take this last comment that opines on the dropping of reader recipes when SL still publishes them.

    I’m old enough to remember when Progressive Farmer came out with Southern Living and my farming grandparents, on both sides, thought PF had lost its “soul” when what it was doing was following the changing South. Kids, including their own, were leaving the farm and moving to the city. That’s it in a nutshell.

    People grow and change… unless they don’t… then they become angry get-off-my-lawn, back-when-I-was-young, kids-these-days petty people clinging to a past that never really was.

  32. Yes! Please bring back the old, the real SL. What’s left could hardly be called a skeleton of it’s former self because there’s just no substance left. Its only about half the size of it’s of it’s former self. Where’s the landscaping, architecture, decorating, travel, and miles of recipes? That’s the magazine I signed up. Not a small fashion advice column with, oh yeah, a few recipes tossed in at the back. I’ll give it another month or two to see if any semblance of the real SL ever appears, then I’ll be looking for it’s replacement.

  33. I took SL for 40 years or more. The men on the sofa was the last straw. I called and cancelled. I am not PC and I will never accept being different is OK.

  34. I love gay people (and most humans) so guys together on a couch don’t bother me much. However, I grew up reading Southern Living when it had substantial articles, great gardening advice, interesting travel tips, and wonderful kitchen-tested recipes. The new version is a cheap rag with nothing of substance unless you’re looking for hair color tips and recipes consisting of canned soup and boxed cake mixes. I still miss the old Southern Living – guess I’ll have to visit my mother and dig through her stash from years past. What a loss!

    • I will agree with the almighty post before me. I will Not use the required fields. You will notice that many complain. I see that your Editor is not at all an editor. He has to jump through hoops like a trained dog. Your subscribers are just so tired of hoping for the old,,,good content. I see now,,, China probably owns you. You are exactly as bad as Better Homes and Gardens.
      People that used to love this Mag….. don’t use the Woke travesty. We are Not WOKE. We are proud American People. We will not renew.

  35. Now 11 years later and its worse. Im not really caring to see articles written by some woke New York yankee, Southerners don’t need or want a yankees opinion about our labor day traditions, we know its quirky, funny and we could wear white if we wanted, but every Southerner knows off white is ok after labor day, not white white!! It’s how we roll! Its our thing like good biscuits and sweet tea! The fact that they have yankees giving their opinion in a Southern based magazine is just not going to cut it! Ill be sure to spread the word and as any self respecting southerner knows thats all its going to take!

  36. I’ve subscribed to SL for decades, but in the past few years have felt more & more alienated by lack of Southern content. I had decided I would no longer update my subscription after my last issue arrives since I can find almost nothing truly Southern left between the covers. So very sad. A great loss.

  37. I have to agree with everyone!!! SL is not the SL it used to be. I have subscribed sine 1970 and looked forward to each issue with all of the recipes.. It is no longer the true way of Southern Living….it breaks my heart, I loved this magazine. I have all of the annual cookbooks until the year 2000. I loved getting one every year…alas, our traditions are becoming blended into yankee ways as they have migrated south changing our ways…. it is not true SL anymore.

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