Editrix turns on lady mags

Former head of Marie Claire says she's over "patronizing, fake and pointless" fashion rags

Published July 21, 2009 10:16AM (EDT)

Liz Jones is so over women's magazines. Sure, professionally, she helmed British Marie Claire for a time and, personally, read Vogue for over three decades as though it were scripture, but she has since decided to call off the love affair. In her  column for the Daily Mail -- a publication superior to glossies because it panders to both genders, I guess? -- she explains that most lady mags are "patronizing, fake and pointless," and that much of the editorial content actually amounts to paid advertising. You don't say. She puts it plainly: "I've fallen out of love with magazines."

It isn't like Jones suddenly became disillusioned with glossies; it was a love-hate relationship from the very beginning, just as it is for many women. She managed just fine with the hate part until recently, when fashion magazines' excesses became culturally unpalatable. In this current financial crisis, high-maintenance preening, couture fashion spreads -- even eyebrows, according to some -- are controversial. It's fashionable of late to rip apart lady mags, just as it is to sneer at any manner of shameless indulgence. They're just as "patronizing, fake and pointless" as they ever were, it's just cool to say it now. Thus, Jones is saying it now.

It's exactly this kind of love-hate relationship that I've always suspected was behind women's magazines and their readers. When I think of the infamous overflowing closets of beauty swag, it's hard to imagine the people producing these rags being anything but disillusioned and cynical -- just like so many of their self-flagellating readers. As Jones writes of one magazine's "review" of an anti-cellulite cream: "Have they tested it rigorously or did it just plop, like all the other beauty freebies, on to a crowded desk?" As if she doesn't already know the answer; as if lady mag readers don't already know the answer.

This piece reminds me of a column Jones wrote last month, in which she supposedly attempted to challenge her lifelong battle with anorexia by eating normally for a week -- with a snap of her fingers, just like that, magic! She soon followed up with another column admitting that as soon as her exercise in eating "normally" ended, she starved herself to lose the weight she had gained. "It makes no sense, but I'd rather be thin than happy or healthy," she writes.

When she concludes this latest column with, "The magazines, our magazines, have got to start being on our side again," I can't help but think: So do we.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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