Magazines: Feminism in Elle.

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There’s been much talk around the blogosphere about the recent appointments of Jill Filopovic of Feminisiting fame at US Cosmopolitan, and Rebecca Traister and Amanda Fortini at US Elle. It seems women’s glossies are clamoring for “feminist cred”, as Daily Life puts it, but I would argue that Elle, in particular, as always had a feminist edge to it.

I’ve been an avid reader of Elle ever since I laid eyes on it in my small town newsagent in 2005. Until recently, I had hardcopies of almost every issue since then. (I donated them to the Whitehouse Institute in Melbourne in an effort to declutter my life. I now receive Elle monthly on my iPad.) And the mag has always been a different kind of women’s interest publication. Elle has always published features on issues pertinent to modern women, such as mental illness, the ladymag prerequisite of “having it all”, and their #longreads by women campaign, in addition to the $5,000 It bags and cosmetic surgery advertorials. (It is perhaps for this reason that women’s magazines can never be truly feminist.) I specifically enjoy their women in film, women in TV and women in politics yearly editions, as well as their monthly Intelligence section, featuring books, movies, art and culture.

I like the way Elle doesn’t pander to women; sure, there’s your outrageously overpriced fashion and beauty that your average Josephine could never afford, but diets, sex tips and low culture are seldom seen. Whereas many women’s magazines can unfortunately be seen to appeal to the lowest common denominator, Elle truly is a grown woman’s magazine. And these things are some of the reasons Elle is pretty much the only glossy I read on a regular basis.

Elsewhere: [Daily Life] Women’s Magazines Suddenly Desperate for Feminist Cred.

[The New Inquiry] On Ladymags & Liberty.

Magazines: Vogue’s Photoshop of Horrors.

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There Lena Dunham goes, creating controversy no matter what she does. Actually, it wasn’t so much Dunham’s American Vogue cover that’s polarised feminists the internet over but Jezebel’s bounty for unPhotoshopped images from Dunham’s shoot.

I kind of get where they’re coming from in that Vogue has a sordid history of Photoshopping its subjects to within an inch of their lives, but it’s puzzling as to why Jezebel’s targeting Dunham’s outing in the mag.

Within a couple of hours of putting a $10,000 bounty on the original images from Dunham’s Annie Leibovitz-shot pictorial, Jezebel had acquired them. A quick glance reveals there was not a whole lot of image-altering to be had, and Dunham looks great in both the before and afters, as Jezebel asserted.

Dunham came to Vogue’s defence in a statement to Slate, saying that Vogue is a fantasy and anyone who wants to see what Dunham actually looks like can tune into Girls. Jezebel’s campaign does come across as body-shaming of Dunham, who has surely experienced enough of that since she first got naked when Girls debuted in 2012. Why not offer as much money for the unretouched originals of someone who has clearly been made to look worlds away from their actual selves? (Jezebel has taken Vogue, Vanity Fair and Victoria’s Secret catalogues to task in the past for their extreme airbrushing in a series called “Photoshop of Horrors”.)

As someone in the comment thread of one of the many posts Jezebel has published in defence of their stance insinuated, it’s time to step away from the computer and let sleeping dogs lie. Funnily enough, it was a cat meme that was used to illustrate this point…

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] We’re Offering $10,000 for Unretouched Images of Lena Dunham in Vogue.

[Jezebel] Here Are the Unretouched Images from Lena Dunham’s Vogue Shoot.

[Jezebel] Lena Dunham Responds to Unretouched Images from Her Vogue Shoot.

[Jezebel] The Unretouched Images Victoria’s Secret Doesn’t Want You to See. 

[Jezebel] Did Vogue Remove Claire Danes’ Leg? (Yes. It Made Her Look Fat.)

[Jezebel] Did Vanity Fair Lighten Lupita Nyong’o’s Skin?

[Slate] Lena Dunham’s Response to Vogue Photoshop Criticism: Fashion Magazines Are About Fantasy, Not Reality.

Image via Us Weekly.

Magazines: Elle—One of These Things is Not Like the Others…

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As New Girl, The Mindy Project and Parks and Recreation return to air from their winter breaks and Girls premiers its third season in the U.S. on Sunday (fasttracked to Showcase on Monday night in Australia), ELLE celebrates their female stars by giving them each a cover of their TV issue.

New Girl‘s Zooey Deschanel heads up the series of covers, followed by Parks and Rec‘s Amy Poehler, Allison Williams who plays Marnie on Girls, and Mindy Kaling for The Mindy Project. All the covers are stunning, but it’s hard not to be visually jarred by the final cover, that of Kaling’s. Whereas all the other women, whose body types tend to fit into the standard Hollywould mould, get the 3/4 length portrait shot that ELLE is known for, Kaling has a close-up beauty shot à la Adele for Vogue. And black and white to boot! Sure, the image in stunning and Kaling herself tweeted in defence of it, but held up against the other three traditional covers, there does seem to be something amiss. You’ll forgive us, ELLE, if we conclude it’s because of Kaling’s skin colour and body shape.

Image via Batch Please.

Magazines: Covers Worth Talking About.

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The first cover listed here to grab my attention was Hillary Clinton for New York magazine, but then Miley came along and blew that out of the (pool) water as she is wont to do.

The accompanying interview for her Rolling Stone cover was done in the days following her much-talked-about MTV VMAs performance, which is discussed at length inside. And rest assured, there are lots of scantily clad shots to compliment her tongue-thrusting on the cover.

Next comes Chris Brown for Jet, a cover which doesn’t necessarily grab the eye as the others do, but it’s what Brown says inside, a snippet of which is captured on the cover, that’s noteworthy. He who is a perpetuator of violence himself identifies with Trayvon Martin, the teen who was shot dead a year and a half ago in Florida in an alleged self-defence. His killer, neighbourhood watchman George ZImmerman, was acquitted of his murder in July this year, and was involved in an apparent domestic violence incident with his estranged wife earlier this month. His wife later refused to press charges.

Now, I’m not saying that Brown can’t identify with a fellow young black man who has been victimised, but equating murder with justified criticism for intimate partner violence and a lack of remorse for said violence is a bit rich.

Finally, in the wake of the mall massacre in Nairobi which, it is believed, had a woman at the helm of the terrorist operation, Pakistan’s Newsweek has a cover story on the rise of female terrorist. I think alternative cover art would have conveyed their message just as well as explosive-tampons…

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Images via The Hollywood GossipVanity FairNY Daily NewsYahoo! Finance.

Magazines: Ms. Carter?

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I’m a recent subscriber to Ms. magazine, so I’ll be interested to check out the accompanying article on cover star Beyonce’s “Fierce Feminism” when it lands in my letterbox in the near future.

Considering her latest world tour is entitled “Mrs. Carter”, Beyonce is a questionable choice for the feminist bastion’s cover. While her personal life seems to be one built of respect, equality and solid choices, her public persona is somewhat at odds with this: she sings about men only being good for “putting a ring on it” and “paying bills” and poses with underboob on the cover of a men’s magazine while espousing the detriments of the patriarchy controlling what’s “sexy” and “feminine”.

Fellow feminist stalwart Bitch magazine has a worthwhile article tackling these contradictions so how will Ms. justify their cover choice?

Related: Why is Feminism Still a Dirty Word?

Elsewhere: [Bitch] All Hail the Queen?

Image via Ms.

Magazines: Why You Gotta Be So Mean to Taylor Swift?

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I find it so rich that Taylor Swift to cries sexism in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, which she also covers, over her portrayal in the media, not to mention going after famed feminists Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Swift is the orchestrator of her own image as a virginal victim, so if anyone’s to blame for her coming across as “some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend in need of making you marry her and have kids with her”, it’s you, TayTay. You do nothing to further the plight of women as anything but “clingy, insane and desperate”, so don’t try to use sexism to your advantage now when you’ve clearly stated you’re not a feminist.

And as for Fey and Poehler’s comments about her staying away from Michael J. Fox’s son at the Golden Globes, Swift says “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”, borrowing from Katie Couric who was borrowing from Madeleine Albright. Again, you don’t help other women by portraying them as anything other than victims or sluts who steal boyfriends and not identifying as a feminist. While I have my own problems with Fey’s alleged feminism, you’re barking up the wrong tree here, Taylor.

Related: Taylor Swift—The Perfect Victim.

Why is Feminism Still a Dirty Word?

Image via Celebitchy.

Magazine Cover of the Year.

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Who didn’t see this coming? Though considering Barack Obama made the cover this time four years ago, I thought maybe they’d go for someone else this time around. While last election year Obama represented hope and change and an abundance of opportunity, he now represents a different kind of hope, one that was echoed around the world in his defeat of straightlaced, oppressive and rich white guy, Mitt Romney, in November. If Obama can hold on to the presidency after a fairly lacklustre first term, there certainly is hope for all of us yet…

Related: The Protestor May Be Time‘s Person of the Year, But SlutWalkers Aren’t.

Image via SPD.