Posts Tagged ‘Magazines’
During my long career in publishing, every magazine I ever worked at received a steady stream of reader letters pleading for more clothes suitable for plus size women. This was no less true at the magazine I edited for ten years. But publishers weren’t so interested in pursuing advertisers in the plus size category, so there was no business imperative to do so. Market editors always did a big eye roll when I brought it up, claiming they didn’t have relationships with those brands, and that it’d be a colossal pain to get the designers we did work with who made clothes in plus sizes to actually lend us clothes in plus sizes. And, if we’re going to be brutally honest, I didn’t push the issue as hard as I should have. Which is, looking back, one of my biggest regrets. I took such pride in creating a magazine that reached women who felt disenfranchised by traditional fashion magazines, and that very same magazine still managed to make a whole lot of them feel excluded.
Which is why I felt so many different things—hugely impressed, super-inspired, and also pretty lame—as I listened to Gabi Gregg speak on a panel at the Independent Fashion Bloggers Conference this week. Gabi (who it appears as though I am the last person in the world to discover) is the fantabulously cute and stylish size-18 woman behind the blog Gabi Fresh. She didn’t see a place in the fashion world for people like her, so she simply went out and created one. It wasn’t the easiest task: to be a large woman in the fashion world is to be treated as though you have some kind of very real and of insurmountable disability, but Gregg says she always remembered Steve Martin’s famous advice—”Be so good they can’t ignore you”—and soldiered on. And now, she’s kind of a deal.
I’m not a big girl, but parts of me are bigger than they used to be: like so many of us as we hit our 40s and beyond, my body has shifted and changed and responded to gravity in ways I would have preferred it not. The clothes I usually show here do a lot of camouflaging and draping, because my personal style is now very much about covering up a poochy stomach and making sure nobody ever sees the very, very tops of my thighs when I wear skinny jeans, and that type of thing. But I’m wondering how many of you would like for me to occasionally go a little deeper in order to find cool stuff in bigger sizes. And if so, how big? Also: what are the toughest pieces to find? Let me work harder to serve you better.
One might have foreseen that news of Barack Obama sitting down with Cindy Leive of Glamour—for a piece to run in the magazine’s November issue—would result in a big old public outcry from the right. But the fact of its predictability makes it no less annoying. “Can’t wait to see what he thinks of the new collection. Next up: the Cosmo interview!” snarked a columnist at the National Review who, in a follow-up email exchange with WWD, elaborated: “The grumbling about Obama’s fluff interviews would be quieter if the country were in a time of peace and prosperity, or if he hadn’t gone eight weeks without a press conference.” Greta van Sustern and the Drudge Report chimed in with similar sentiments.
It’s not like there’s nothing to this criticism, but the ugly brand of glee that has accompanied it feels reductive and misguided and tinged with misogyny. Glamour may or may not be your personal cup of tea, but it does have a long history of covering issues surrounding women’s professional, personal, and reproductive rights. In addition to which (and as many have pointed out), George W. Bush—who had an almost xenophobic relationship to the press during a similarly fraught period in this nation’s history—spoke with the publication as well. And anyway, a general interest magazine aimed at women doesn’t seem any less relevant a venue than, say, People, which quite recently ran an interview with Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and their wives. For which I don’t knock them: Obama’s been in People too. Giving access to high-circulation publications is something candidates do. That Glamour—or any women’s magazine that has consistently prioritized important women’s topics—would be considered a less-than-viable venue is such absurdity that I’m annoyed anyone’s even debating it.
Perhaps Lena Dunham Tweeted it best:
Because Helen Gurley Brown’s vision of female sexuality and power was messy and contradictory, and to love her—or even just to embrace some part of her spirit—is to recognize that being a woman in this culture can be a loopy, wild thrill ride of messiness and contradiction a whole lot of the time. Back in the late 80s, when I was a budding young feminist fresh out of school and starting out in publishing, she seemed like the enemy. Two decades and a whole lot of perspective on the magazine business later, I realize she helped make me—and all my snotty-ass friends who thought we were re-inventing the world—possible.
Helen Gurley Brown was the type of woman who called herself a feminist, to the great consternation of those who considered themselves to more purely embody feminist values. But her story—and the story she encouraged her readers to tell in their own lives—of emerging from “mouseburger” un-specialness to achieve financial autonomy, sexual satisfaction and success writ huge, is the very portrait of female empowerment. That she would go on to marry a peer—movie producer David Brown—and tell the Times that she looked after him “like a geisha” was the type of thing that infuriated people in the movement. But it was all of a piece to her.
Some of her most memorable quotations from this list the Daily Beast compiled yesterday—like for instance “If you’re not a sex object, you’re in trouble,”—are maddening, but others are simply fantastic. “Nearly every glamorous, successful, career woman you might envy now started out as some kind of schlepp,” she once said, and unpaid interns filing class action suits would do well to take note.
Also, here’s a first edition copy of Sex and the Single Girl if you’re interested in adding it to your bookshelf. Later covers have a more groovy sexy vibe, but I love that this one looks more like an anthropological textbook.
Also: you might very much need to own a first edition of the Single Girl’s Cookbook, just for the cover alone.
And finally: here’s this, from the first paragraph of HGB’s Times obit: “She was 90, though parts of her were considerably younger.” This seems undignified no? Coming as it does from the paper of record? Not even to mention colossally disrespectful: think what you will about Helen Gurley Brown, she was a serious force not only in the popular culture, but in the business world as well, and her magazine not only minted money, it spawned countless spinoffs that minted money too. No man in a similar position would be subjected to this. I was discouraged—but alas, not surprised—to see that the piece was written by a woman.
And yet it’s impossible not to. His level of self-love is off the charts. He has no filter whatsoever. And— as GQ writer Alex Pappademas discovered when he was sent to Italy to profile the man behind The Sartorialist—all you’ve really got to do is turn on a tape recorder in front of the guy, and you’re off to the races.
There are many good moments—Schuman snapping a male model outside a show and then declaring the resulting image “a Diane Arbus shot,” for instance. But this is my favorite:
When Schuman—scanning for subjects at a Milan menswear trade show—finds somebody he’d like to shoot, writes Pappademas, he tries to “lead them them away from the glossy signage of the trade show buildings and put them up against old, crumbly walls whenever he can.”
“‘It places them in context,'” [Schuman] says. “When I point out that by positioning them so you can’t see they’re at a fashion trade show, he’s actually, technically, obscuring the context, he says, `Yes, it’s definitely a curated context. It’s my altered reality.”
Which, if anybody should ever make a This is Spinal Tap of the fashion world, is totally the “This one goes to 11″ moment.
In the old days, when I needed to look good for some important work event or activity, actual hair and makeup professionals would come to my office. And while they aways created a version of me that was really, shockingly, far better than me, I always found the experience unbearably boring and time-consuming.* The fact that some editors did it a couple of times a week—some daily—astonished me.
Last Friday, however, I had something pretty important, and I wanted to look good. At the very least, a blow-out executed by a person other than myself seemed advisable. And although my competence makeup-wise is pretty decent these days, a little something extra in that department seemed to be in order too. So I walked over to the MAC store on Bleecker, and a very nice young man named Jonathan applied false lashes—a light pair, so as to avoid any Real Housewifey-ness—and that’s all it took. A happy, inexpensive maybe-almost-as-good shortcut to what took ages back in the office.
*First world problem, yes, I’m with you all the way.
This cover isn’t edgy. It’s pandering. And more than a little predictable. And I’m annoyed that we’re all so annoyed about it, because of course the whole plan was to have us clutching our pearls in horror. So please: wipe that smug grin off your face and and don’t try anything like this again.