Tag Archives: personal

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

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The Problem with Twitter

Dear T

The Great British Bake Off is one of Britain’s most valued treasures. It’s like David Attenborough or Kew Gardens. It’s something that refuses to be tarnished, that fills hearts with joy and buttery goodness week upon week.

However.

During this series of GBBO I’m pained to admit that I have become aware of something unsettling, something a little sinister lingering beneath the surface of the big white tent. As I watch Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood judge a batch of cakes in a fair but firm way, I notice a common occurrence on my Twitter feed, something that gives me a sour taste in my mouth – which is quite a feat considering I’m watching a show about baking

Wow Candice on GBBO is all kinds of annoying

Why is Candice baking in heels?! Gurl I hope you trip and your roulade smushes everywhere

Love it when Candice gets negative feedback!! Can’t stand her smug face

Candice’s jaw must ache with all that pouting she does.

And then it becomes more sinister:

How do Mary and Paul stand so close to Candice without slapping the shit out of her for that fucking pout

Cannot bear Candice on GBBO. And Paul needs to stop treating her with kid gloves cause he wants her buns

Swear Candice must be playing with Paul’s willy, can’t stand her.

Candice Brown is a 31-year old PE teacher from London. She’s a good baker. She’s witty, intelligent, and fun. The tweets above weren’t hard to find and are only a cross section of the Candice-hatred. But why Candice? I can’t figure it out. There’s nothing about her rude or racist or conceited. I can’t see any evidence that she’s smug. So what’s the problem?

The sour taste in my mouth gets sourer still.

Surelyit’s not just because she’s young and female and attractive.

It is.

She’s beautiful therefore she must be sleeping with Paul Hollywood.

She wears lipstick = ‘that fucking pout’

She’s doing well in the competition = smug.

The tweets about Candice are never about her skills, but her appearance. She doesn’t look like Mary Berry or Delia Smith so she probably can’t bake, instead using her looks to excel in the competition. By not conforming to the Wholesome British Baker model that we are used to and expect, people feel compelled to take her down.

It’s so weird.

Several years ago the same treatment was given to Bake Off contestant Ruby Tandoh. She, too, was accused of sleeping with Paul Hollywood. Because of course, how else could she possibly progress through the competition otherwise? She was young and attractive so she must have use her body to get to the final. Right?

Funnily enough, no. And funnily enough, when Ruby came out as gay, she followed the announcement with these words; ‘p.s. for those who thought I fancied Paul Hollywood or that I’d ever bang him to get ahead – Joke’s on you, you massive shitting misogynists.’

It isn’t just the blatant sexism that bothers me here, but the creepy keyboard warriors who take part in the abuse. It’s become a normal part of life now, so much so that we just scroll through the insults and forget about them in a matter of seconds. But when did it become ok for someone to receive death threats from strangers for wearing lipstick?

When Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint the other day, some Twitter users openly expressed their discontent that she wasn’t actually killed. I wonder what percentage of these people actually know Kim? I’d bet none.

I see West End star Carrie Hope Fletcher as the victim of almost daily harassment against people who are pissed off that she didn’t leave the theatre through the stage door or because she chose to cover a song which other people don’t think she should have covered. These people put all their energy into making her feel as small and remorseful as possible. And they succeed.

Twitter has become a dark place full of cyberbullies and trolls who use their computer screens to protect themselves. It’s scary and I wonder how far it will go. Does the world really need any more hate?

Tom Clarke, the lead singer of The Enemy, sums it up perfectly. He quit Twitter two years ago and when asked why he said:

Our tour is selling exceptionally well in a difficult climate for our genre, and yet all I want to do is leave music, for the sake of my mental well-being, because of a few bullies, but also because of an entire industry’s complete unwillingness to challenge the behaviour of those people and hold them to account.

The sad thing is, whether you like my music or not, I can’t be the only one. How many musicians will we drive away by failing to recognise and deal with this abhorrent behaviour?”

What will Twitter do about these bullies? Because I see this getting a lot worse before it gets better. And if Tom Clarke’s reaction is anything to go by, our favourite social media influencers might be long gone before the problem is fixed.

Lots of love

Alex xoxo