Tag Archives: media

The problem with women’s magazines

Dear T

I’m sure you’ve seen this circulating social media circles in the recent weeks.

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I know what you’re thinking. How truly grim it is that this sort of discrimination is still a frequent occurrence? Definitely.

How scary the world is? Absolutely.

How inspiring this story is? Ye… wait. What?

The other day my friend Lucy sent me this:

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Inspiring. Inspiring. Is that what you would call it?

Like one of those videos that you see posted on Facebook about a dog freaking out when it sees its owner for the first time in years or a 9 year old boy giving his coat to a cold looking girl at a bus stop. Those things are always labelled ‘inspiring’.

But then again, there’s no racist graffiti plastered all over the subway in those videos.

Here’s how I imagine the meeting at Glamour HQ went down:

Writer: We need to talk about this story, but it’s pretty intense.

Editor: I agree.

Writer: Why don’t we sugar coat it by skimming the issue? Write about how inspiring it is that people cleaned off the anti-Semitic hate?

Editor: BINGO

It was during this meeting – presumably in a desperately sleep deprived state – that they came up with this really fitting and appropriate tagline to sell the story: ‘This will brighten up your Sunday!’

My friends and I discussed this over Whatsapp, where many of our deep conversations and debates (and what we’re going to wear on a night out) take place. My friend, Jess, said that she was all up for seeing positive in negative situations, but felt ‘like that just shits all over a horrific news story.’

Because at the end of the day, this news isn’t about the people who wiped off the Nazi symbolism (which in my eyes is pure human decency). No, it’s about how terrifying it is that this hate is still being scrawled over walls in 2017. And as Lucy pointed out, it ‘hasn’t brightened up anyone’s fucking Sunday.’

Buried underneath Glamour’s glitter and unicorn shit is a real issue.

I wondered how many other stories like this one get camoflaged everyday in women’s magazines.

That’s when I noticed it.

Women’s magazines are seriously behind the times when it comes to progression. Here’s a cute montage I made earlier:

From my research, the majority of women’s magazines contain most or all of these wise and thought-provoking articles:

  • How to have good sex, specifically with a man (Because apparently you can’t if you’re sleeping with a woman)
  • What clothes you should be wearing atm and will suit your figure (This is important for seducing the man that you might have sex with and conforming to the popular notion that appearances are there to be judged)
  • How to be happy (Man+sex and good clothes/body/hair xox)
  • Which celebrities look shit and why (Play close attention so you don’t make a fool out of yourself in front of men)
  • How to style your hair and do your make up right. I’m not even going to speak in brackets. I know about as much about make up as my brother. The magazine will tell me a) I’m brave for going ‘bare faced’ b) I should try a better moisturiser if I’m going to do that.

I’m not brave, just lazy. I like painting my nails. Sometimes I put concealer on my spots. Occasionally I wear lipstick. It’s not a hobby. I don’t know the brands or ‘what’s hot.’

Just like some girls like red wine and some don’t. Some dabble. Why not. Free country.

The point is: make up and hair doesn’t interest every girl. Neither does wine. Neither do Shane Meadows movies. There is no universal interest.

These common articles are not common articles of woman kind. These tropes are not defining of femininity. But they are in every women’s mag and I find that weird.

It’s weird that we can still be lumped into one model of culturally constructed femininity, a woman whose life revolves around fashion, beauty and sex. 50 years ago it was this.

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It’s weird that these magazines also preach their allegiance to feminism, like its a trend. Equality and all that, yeah. Stand up for what you believe in, but careful not to wear too much eyeliner because that’s a serious faux pas this season and no-one will take you seriously.

It’s fine to be a feminist and also want to have good hair. It’s also fine not to. The whole point of feminism is that you can be whoever you want to be without restriction. These magazines have codes and control.

Today these magazines should be brave. They should be without restriction.

But it might not sell.

Luckily, for us in 2017 everything is so accessible. We can pick and choose for ourselves what we want to read about, what each of us can specifically relate to. We can like, retweet, share. We are the creators of our own publications. And in a few years, physical copies of magazines will be dying out anyway. But wouldn’t it be nice if, before they do, the editors take a stand and make a real difference. Because soceity could really do with it, now more than ever.

What do you think? Reckon I’m being unreasonable?

Looking forward to a catch up soon

Alex xoxo

Reunions, unicorns and wake-up calls.

Dear Alex,

Despite not living next to each other, we are still very much in sync, because I couldn’t agree more about Twitter and actually the blog I wrote over the course of last week, follows on with a very similar topic.

So last weekend was my five-year school reunion. We left school five years ago. FIVE. I’m not sure how this much time has passed, whilst at the same time, the feeling

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Spoiler: people are better in real life

of returning to school felt daunting.

Like most people, I’m sure, I had goals or ideas about where I would be when I attended the event at 23 – an age that at 18 felt mature and adult. I looked at 23 year olds and thought how grown up they were. They had their lives sorted, they were successful, happy and ticking all the boxes society tells us we should have done by the time we’re 23 (degree, job, boyfriend, your own flat, the list goes on). Boxes, that are all the more painfully obvious we haven’t met because of social media. I couldn’t feel further from a grown up – perhaps because I’m still calling adults ‘grown-ups’, when real ones of couMjAxMi1hY2NmNGQ4NDQyZTA2Y2Fk.pngrse, don’t call themselves a ‘grown-up’.

My point is, is that when I thought of the concept of being 23 it was of someone who was ‘sorted’ and ‘together’ and a lot of the time, I feel like I am neither. The worst part about growing up in our world today is that you can’t escape what looks like evidence to prove that you are the only one feeling this inadequacy. On social media, my peers seem to be far closer to the idea of what I thought 23 would be than I am.

Nowadays, there are more ways for us to connect to people, to communicate, to share – there are many positives. But there are also far too many opportunities for us to compare ourselves to others and in doing so feel worse about ourselves. The constant inescapable presence of others happiness, or a Lo-Fi filtered, brightened, colour tinted, staged happiness in our faces when we don’t feel the same, is doing nothing for people’s mental health.

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Clever.

Seeing people in real life as opposed to the happy, together and sorted version I saw on social media, was a wake-up call. A wake-up call to how inaccurate of a picture it can produce. People were talking about how unhappy they were, their arguments with friends or the jobs they hated when it would have been impossible to gauge any of this from their social media presence. Obviously I have always known the potentially misleading culture of the online world – it’s like a unicorn, you know it’s not real but you can’t help thinking how pretty or magical it looks and wishing that you could own one. If at 23, and pretty secure in myself, I can still be influenced by these misleading portrayals of people, what hope is there for young adults today?

Talking to old teachers, they told me about the suicide attempts and self-harming that is more commonplace in education now than there ever was even when we were at school five years ago. Of which, they largely accounted it to social media. If true, it’s a frightening reality.

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CNN’s graphic summing it up perfectly.

I worry that the technology we are so proud of, is also hurting us, and hurting a younger generation the most.We are not only, or solely, happy and I doubt many people feel ‘sorted’ or ‘together’ at any age. Not one of us is perfect, and we have made it harder for people to see this, to separate illusion from reality.

 

Nowadays we live in two worlds, but for teenagers it’s harder. They live in limbo between these worlds, perhaps at the cost of never being themselves, feeling complete, or figuring out who they are, in either. It’s something that weighs, and has been weighing, on my mind more so than ever. All because of a school reunion.

Love T xx

Lemonade

 

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Screenshot from Lemonade Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB5zLq1zcdo

Dear T

Let’s talk about Beyonce for a second. Her name is everywhere right now. Why? Because when life gave her lemons, Beyonce made Lemonade (and made a real song and dance about it too).

Before I carry on I need to say something. I imagine I’m going to make myself a few enemies here. I will be banished from the Beyhive for eternity to infinity and beyond. But alas I will say it anyway.

I don’t love Beyonce.

I don’t hate her either, by the way. I just wouldn’t tweet a ‘What would Beyonce do?’ meme or *crown emoji**bee emoji*. I’ve never got the Queen B buzz (lol) and I don’t have time to try. I’m wary of the craze. But first…

The reason the world is so obsessed with Lemonade right now seems to be what it’s not so subtly saying about Beyonce’s marriage to Jay Z. One song – I didn’t (want to) listen to them all – titled ‘Sorry’ accuses Jay Z of an affair with ‘Becky with the good hair’. As soon as Lemonade was splashed all over the industry carpet the finger was pointed, and not even particularly at Mr Queen B, Jay Z. The first of the accused was fashion designer, Rachel Roy. Then everyone was up in Rita Ora’s face. As I’m typing this the media is claiming that ‘Becky’ is a composite of women Jay Z has cheated with. By the time this has posted we’ll probably be suspecting Mary Kate Olsen or Sarah Lou off of Coronation Street or Fiona Bruce. Who runs the world? Not girls, but the media and gender frameworks. *Blame the woman!!!*. Hey B maybe you should be careful about what you sing before some innocent lady gets their house egged or their face plastered all over the Daily Mail. (Obviously I don’t think this is Beyonce’s fault. She is just the face of a much larger problem.)

Speaking of the Daily Mail, Piers Morgan wrote a truly hilarious article about how Beyonce was ‘playing the race card’ in her new visual album. Morgan cleverly writes how he preferred Beyonce when she didn’t have a political voice and pretended to be white. “The New Beyoncé wants to be seen as a black woman” part was my favourite. She wants to be seen as a black woman. A black woman wanting to be seen as black. How ludicrous!! You’re right Piers, all black women should go back to wanting to be white again!!!! We should definitely wipe out the entirety of the world’s racial progress and Beyonce should get back in the kitchen and make Jay Z a sandwich. That guy is so funny.

Oh apart from this was a genuinely serious article; Morgan wasn’t trying to be funny and no-one is laughing. Everyone’s worst Loose Women panelist, Jamelia, certainly wasn’t laughing when she wrote this. She basically makes Morgan look like a prize racist idiot (who knew?):

You are a middle aged, British white man. You have no idea, I repeat: NO IDEA what it is like to be a black woman, and furthermore the sacrificial, struggle-filled, tongue-biting, mask-wearing fight it is to become a successful one.

Right on Jamelia, you’ve bumped yourself up into the top quartile of my Loose Women panelist rankings.

So now Lemonade isn’t B’s voice or artistry. Lemonade is about Becky with the good hair and the QueenB prototype of woman and whether or not Beyonce wants to be seen as black(?!). It questions why Jay Z decided to internationally expose himself as a love rat, whether he knew what he was signing up for or whether he’s using it as some form of career tactic. Despite all of this, for all the wrong reasons Lemonade puts Beyonce on an ever ascending pedestal that no amount of adultery or publicity can knock down. And I don’t mean Beyonce the person, I mean ‘Beyonce’ the brand.

My feelings about B aren’t informed by her music. Her songs are fine. I would sing my heart out to them in a club (although I would do the same to the Pokemon theme tune so that isn’t saying much.) My issue is with ‘Beyonce’. She isn’t a real person. She’s a creation of many minds, an image, a project, a worldwide symbol of what a woman should be. And I don’t buy it. However real Lemonade may be, Beyonce isn’t; she’s an ideal. She’s married with a child, she’s gorgeous, she donates millions to charity. But don’t forget she’s also Sasha Fierce: ‘sassy’ and strong and feisty. She seemingly never has a bad day; even when her sister punched her husband, ‘Beyonce’ was left virtually unscathed. The media constantly pushes her brand of femininity as a goal for all women. But hi, femininity isn’t real. It’s a totally made up thing that men projected onto women of olden times to make them behave subordinately. It’s scary that the person so many call ‘Queen’ isn’t a person at all, but a brand, a puppet. Beyonce shouldn’t be ‘goals’. You don’t have to be Beyonce. Even Beyonce isn’t Beyonce. Do what you want. Be who you want. You’ll never be Beyonce. I don’t blame Beyonce or her lemony fizzy goodness. After all, she’s just the face of a brand, the commodity used to sell the brand.

I blame her puppet master.

(Hope this wasn’t too intense and I hope I still have friends! Like I said, my issue isn’t with the lady herself, it’s the dishonesty/danger/delusion of mainstream media.)

Lots of love

Alex xoxo