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.

Lindsay Lohan: Marilyn, Eat Your Heart Out.

In an academic article by Melissa Hardie, published in The Australian Humanities Review and entitled “The Closet Remediated: Inside Lindsay Lohan”, Lohan’s obsession with the tragic Marilyn Monroe is dissected, noting a certain depth that both actresses shared, but is not necessarily visible to the naked eye. And speaking of naked, the article focuses heavily on Lohan’s rendition of Monroe’s final photo shoot, in which they both get naked with scarves and faux flowers. Hardie writes:

“Bert Stern, the photographer of the Monroe session, took the photos of Lindsay impersonating Monroe, and in the article that accompanies the photo shoot Amanda Fortini writes:

“‘Stern, who shot the photos on film rather than digitally, told me he was interested in Lohan because he suspected “she had a lot more depth to her” than one might assume from “those teenage movies”…’

“Fortini writes of the original pictures of Monroe that ‘Stern excavated and preserved the poignant humanity of the real womanbeautiful, but also fragile, needy, flawedfrom the monumental sex symbol’, and Stern’s comments about Lohan employ similar metaphors, where the nude celebrity portrait becomes ironically… the opportunity to decipher depth. Reinforcing Stern’s interest in Monroe’s visible depththat she might be ‘more’ than her imageis Fortini’s discussion of Lohan’s fascination with Monroe. For Fortini, Lohan’s interest in Monroe

“took root a decade ago with multiple viewings of Niagara during the London filming of The Parent Trap. She has even purchased an apartment where Marilyn once lived. ‘If you saw my house… I have a lot of Marilyn stuff,’ she told me, including a huge painting of Monroe.

“‘It’s eerie,’ Lohan said of the painting, a Christmas gift, ‘because it’s this picture of her, and it’s kind of cartoony, and there’s a big bottle of pills next to her, and they’ve fallen over.’

“Lohan’s fetishistic collection of Monroe’s ‘stuff’ suggests her desire to see beyond, or at least compensate for, deathly (‘cartoony’) images of her celebrated subjectivity. Fortini describes Lohan’s work on the shoot as a form of ‘strict mimesis: scarves, nudity, and all’.”

Related: Poor Little Rich GirlLindsay Lohan in Who.

All Eyes on Marilyn.

Marilyn Misfit.

Elsewhere: [Australian Humanities Review] The Closet Remediated: Inside Lindsay Lohan.