Magazines: Feminism in Elle.


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.

Magazine Cover of the Week: Vogue’s Photoshop of Horrors.


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.


Magazine Covers of the Week: One of These Things is Not Like the Others…


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.

Magazine Cover of the Week: Lady Gaga’s Lady Garden (NSFW).


Lady Gaga’s never been one to shy away from boundary-pushing attention, never more so than with the promotion of her latest album, ARTPOP. She’s done The Muppets, R. Kelly and now she’s literally baring all on the cover of Candy, “the first transversal style magazine” and the same one that James Franco and Jared Leto went drag for. I’m loving the Salvador Dali and Freddy Mercury undertones and it’s refreshing to see a not-so-manicured bush getting a mainstream airing, so to speak.

Image via Karl is My Unkle.

Magazine Cover of the Week: Diversity on American Horror Story.


This edition of Entertainment Weekly came out while I was in the U.S., but with less than three American dollars to my name when I hit LAX on Tuesday night, I was sadly unable to pick up a copy. (I thought a measly $2.50 cheeseburger from Burger King to sustain me was a tad more important.) But I did get to flick through it at my hotel’s gym that morning, and it looks like a corker. Did we expect anything less from American Horror Story, which just keeps getting better with each season?

You’d be hard pressed to beat last year’s Asylum, however the diverse cast, consisting of two women over the age of sixty, several cast members of colour, body diversity and Jamie Brewer, an actress with Down syndrome, and scintillating subject matter make Coven a riot to watch. The fact that Entertainment Weekly chose to put three older women, one of which is a WOC, on their cover make for yet another AHS talking point.

Are you watching American Horror Story: Coven?

Image via Sinuous Mag.

Magazine Cover of the Week: Truth or Dare?


Madonna has written a confessional for US Harper’s Bazaar to accompany her Terry Richardson-shot November cover, in which she discusses man repelling, robbery and rape.

Madonna reveals that when she first moved to New York City some thirty years ago, her apartment was robbed numerous times and she was raped at knifepoint on the roof of a building.

These confessions tie into the “truth or dare” tone of her piece, in which she also discusses clawing her way to the top and forcing people out of their boxes. Whatever you think of her, Madonna is an admirable lady to have overcome these obstacles to become the benchmark that all female pop stars measure themselves against today.

Elsewhere: [Harper's Bazaar] Madonna: Truth or Dare?

Image via Citizens of Fashion.

Magazine Covers of the Week: Worth Talking About.


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…




Related: We Are All Trayvon.

Images via The Hollywood GossipVanity FairNY Daily NewsYahoo! Finance.

Magazine Cover of the Week: We Are All Trayvon.

ebony magazine trayvon martin

The George Zimmerman trial—the Florida case in which neighbourhood watch patrolman Zimmerman shot dead the teenaged African American boy, Trayvon Martin, on the assumption that he looked dangerous and Zimmerman was simply “standing his ground”—touched the hearts of many around the world, but particularly in the U.S., including President Obama, who said Martin could have easily been him 35 years prior.

In remembrance of, justice for and solidarity with Martin, Ebony magazine has employed the murder victim’s family, as well as some notable African American men and their sons, for a four-cover spread for their September issue.

Image via Daily Beast.

Magazine Cover of the Week: Dzhokhar Was a Rolling Stone.


A positive furor has errupted surrounding the publication of Rolling Stone with alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover.

Tsarnaev has emerged as somewhat of a terrorist-hearthrob among the teen set, with Tumblrs dedicated to “saving” him and fan-fics about his misunderstood bad-boyishness.

I’m not sure how I feel about the cover; Rolling Stone has been known for it’s hard-hitting investigative reporting, and as the Huffington Post points out, the magazine’s 1970 Charles Manson cover—which went on to win the National Magazine Award—drew similar ire at the time. But on the other hand, should we be glorifying an alleged terrorist by placing him, pin-up like, on the cover of a rock magazine?

Elsewhere: [Facebook] Huffington Post.

Image via Metro.