Sometimes I look back at some of my favourite editions of magazines like Girlfriend and Cosmopolitan and think, they’re not what they used to be.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re still great mags changing the glossy face of Australia, what with Girlfriend’s Girlfriend of the Year, Think. Do. Be. Positive and I Delete Bullies and Cosmo’s Body Love campaigns.
My favourite issue ever of Girlfriend (and at almost 23, should I even be reading this magazine anymore?!) was back in November 2007, with Indiana Evans fronting the mag.
And, while I will always be a Cosmo girl, I’m struggling to get as excited about the mag as I was when I first started reading it seven years ago. I was lucky enough to get a taste of Mia Freedman’s editorial skills before she left the mag soon after, and have been a sucker for her ever since.
Only now am I starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together as to why Girlfriend, in particular, meant so much to me during that time.
Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and former Girlfriend staffer herself (more on that in a minute), recently blogged about current Cleo editor Sarah Oakes’ resignation and subsequent appointment as Sunday Life (Fairfax’s Sunday newspaper supplement) editor, and thank God she did!
I am now able to prepare myself to love Cleo a little less, and Sunday Life a little more. Much like falling out of love with Girlfriend around the time Oakes left, and falling fast for Cleo, especially following its recent redesign.
For my money, Oakes is the next Freedman, and I will buy anything she puts her name to.
I became familiar with her whilst she was editing the teen mag, which I began to read again at about age 18. Admittedly, I was out of the mag’s target audience age range, but the left-of-centre features, quirky crafts and “Click It” pages exposed me to a whole new internet world, comprising of Etsy stores, Gossip Girl fashions, creative projects and so much more.
Back when I was pursuing my magazine dreams, Girlfriend was a mag I wanted to intern—and eventually be paid to work—at.
Then Oakes moved over to Cleo, and I immediately felt the shift in the quality of the content. Cleo used to be a magazine I felt I’d wasted my money on after purchasing, but it slowly surpassed all other magazines on my must-have list. I’ll be sad to see her leave, but glad that I now get my Sarah fix weekly, and for free! (Well, at the low $2 price of The Age.)
It’s no secret that the aforementioned Girl with a Satchel is a blog I frequent regularly; a blog that I have written for, and a blog that inspired me to start my own.
I think Bartle is a clever, self-deprecating and an “everywoman” writer, perhaps in the vein of Oakes and Freedman. Considering Bartle worked on Girlfriend during Oakes’ editorship, it’s hardly a surprise. (As I said, I have a soft spot for the “Click It” pages, which Bartle was responsible for compiling.) She has a knack for making the reader feel like they’re besties, or BFFs, or whatever it is the cool kids call it, and although I would merely call us sometime-collaborators/fellow bloggers, I sometimes wish we were.
Its no surprise the magazine world is a small, incestuous little family, and the same names usually pop up all over the place, from ACP to Pacific, and now, to the blogosphere. (As Bartle writes, Cosmo features editor Caelia Corse is now heading over to Women’s Health, which is edited by fellow former Cosmo girl, Felicity Harley nee Percival.) And I think it’s safe to say that the output of quality writers that readers can relate to may be due to the nurturing and mentorship of some great editors; in addition to the Oakes-Bartle dynamic, Lisa Wilkinson was the editor of Cleo when Freedman got her break, who then went on to mentor Harley and Freedman’s successor Sarah Wilson at Cosmo, and Wilson’s successor, current Cosmo editor Bronwyn McCahon. Phew!
As much as many people who write-off the magazine industry as fashion, beauty, diet and pop culture poppycock (many of my friends do, but they read this blog anyway ’cause they love me!), there’s no denying that it does attract many of Australia’s best female (and male) writers, and with the help of the seasoned and talented editors who’ve come before them, there’s certainly a bloodline of glossy (and bloggy, and newspapery) flair that is being secreted by the Australian magazine industry.