Tag Archives: writing

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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2017: The Year of Grit

Dear Alex,

Happy New Year! I hope you had a lovely Christmas and 2017 is your best year yet. I aim to make 2017 my best year yet, and have started the year with a string of resolutions, all which I feel are manageable and achievable – hopefully. One of these resolutions, is to do at least one productive thing a day that is just for me (i.e. work doesn’t count) and should hopefully mean by default, my blogging record is better than I ended 2016 with.

All my New Year’s Resolutions are based around the ideas of a truly great book I’ve just finished. This truly great book, is entitled: ‘Grit’ and is written by the psychologist Angela Duckworth, who has quickly been awarded a place on my list of idols and people I admire. Short of being a book that only people who are interested in Psychology will enjoy. Defined as a ‘special blend of persistence and potential’, a will to never give up and to overcome setbacks in the pursuit of long term goals; the cimages.jpgoncept of grit is something anyone can live by and is perhaps more relevant than ever today.

I have long believed that our focus in society on talent and intelligence is unhealthy and inaccurate. To me it seems that the suggestion is, that only the talented and intelligent can truly achieve. Therefore leaving everyone else in some grey area that will never match up to those who are ‘bright’ enough to achieve greatness, all because we weren’t born with a gift. It disregards so many other character traits that may in fact allow us all to achieve. In other words, according to Angela’s book, it disregards grit.

‘Grit’ is filled with case studies of gritty people who have achieved through pure hard work and an overwhelming attitude that they weren’t going to quit that is hugely admirable. What I’ve gained most from her book is that it is also achievable. The majority of people in her book credit their failures as the reason they are now a success. Failure and how they handled it, has allowed them to achieve.

Angela notes towards the end of the book, that so often the restrictions we see as barriers are not because we aren’t talented, clever, fit enough or whatever enough we’ve talked ourselvesimages-2.jpg around to believing is the reason we can’t be successful and happy, but instead are self-inflicted. Gritty people don’t impose limits on themselves and the best part of the whole concept of grit is that we can all learn to be gritty.

I love this idea. I have fallen culprit to the idea of talent and intelligence being the ‘be all and end all’ myself too many times. I have a sibling that has so often achieved more than what I have worked hard for, naturally. Whilst I want the best for him, I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes seeing someone achieve things you strive for easily is difficult.

But I also don’t think I would change it, because the achievements I’ve gained through hard work, the ones where grit has been the key reason for my success, are the best ones.

So this year, I’ve decided to be the grittiest I’ve ever been. Who knows, maybe it’ll lead to the most success I’ve had. But if not, I don’t think resolutions that are based on grit can be a bad thing.

Love T x

P.S Anyone who is interested can also test their own level of grittiness using the ‘Grit Scale’ created by Angela Duckworth (whom I admire – don’t know if you got that) and find out more about grit, on her website