I was riding the subway last week and noticed a 20-something-year-old girl across the car, reading an issue of Glamour magazine. "What the [heck] is on that cover?" I wondered, as I peered a little closer. At first glance, I couldn't tell if the image on the cover was A. an actual photograph or a digitally produced image, and B. of a Homo Sapien. I hopped off the subway and forgot all about it, until I saw the issue on stands today, and I took another look.
Well, it turns out it's Taylor Swift! I was sure it was a curly-haired alien, or maybe Taylor Swift cartooned into a Disney princess, but nope! Glamour, you tricked me -- and this is about the only way you succeeded with this cover. So I'm going to zip up my oxblood riding boots and hop on a horse as high as Ann Romney's Rafalca, and tell you why.
Firstly, you went too far. So you didn't Ralph Lauren her waist line, or Victoria's Secret her arm, but you airbrushed her to the point where her species comes into question. I understand that you wanted the image to be glamorous -- your name is Glamour after all, and I'm smart enough to pick up on that, as are your readers. But did this really not set off any red flags or alarm bells?
Women's magazines, and particularly fashion publications, have received a lot of heat for presenting unrealistic ideals of beauty, especially in recent history, as women of all ages have petitioned for the use of real and untouched images. As a result of these petitions, Seventeen magazine even vowed to put an end to overtouched photos.
But you know what? I'm more realistic. I understand that photos need editing. And I know that as readers, there's an element of fantasy we indulge in when reading your magazine. Fame, glamour, wealth, and beauty as transformed on your pages is an exciting part of the experience.
Yet I still ask, why can't real women be beautiful too? How does the work of a magnificent photographer and beauty team who spent hours, maybe days on this shoot, earn the respect it deserves when Photoshop left its unruly mark all over the image? Why is Taylor Swift not allowed to have pores? Or human skin? Look at it again. Really, Glamour? Really?
But the problems with this cover go beyond Taylor Swift. Yes, her face looks insane, but also, do 33.5 year old women -- the median age of your readership -- care about Taylor Swift at all? At least she's sharing "stuff she only tells her girlfriends." Was she horrified by her last Pap test? What type of birth control doesn't turn her into a raging bitch? Did she hook up with someone and is now suffering the hilariously awkward consequences? How does she secretly go numero dos at her boyfriends place, and does she fart in front of him? (Fine, maybe that last one is just me and my girlfriends.) I'm guessing that interview is about another break up, writing a song about it, winning a Grammy, and repeating the process. Stars: they're just like us!
The laundry list continues. "101 New Ways to Do Your Hair," received an even bigger headline than your beloved cover star, and prime real estate on the cover. 101 NEW ways? I'm feeling overwhelmed just thinking about flipping through that many pages of DIY hair dos. I can do ten. Ten new ways to do my hair would suffice. So please, knock me over the head with a round brush and wake me up when the list hits number 90.
"And, Oh Yeah, That Little Thing Called the Election." Wait. What? The PRESIDENT answers readers' questions, and granted you an interview and it's placed under Hair, Skin, Taylor, and Guys, like an afterthought? I'm starting to sound like Seth Meyers as again I say, really, Glamour? Really?
This is wrong on so many levels. It's insulting to your readership. And you know what? It's insulting to the President too.
Sure, it's an election year and his PR machine is working in overdrive and so maybe it isn't that crazy to see him indulging a magazine like yours, but here's the thing: it's an election year. The man is busy! Just like millions of other Americans, he too wants job security for the next four years! HE'S just like us. Except he is also running an entire country, deflecting the shit thrown at him in his own country and from others, campaigning, conventioning, and debating, and probably doing nightly situps with Michelle! So a little respect is in order, that's all.
The old adage that you can't judge a book by it's cover doesn't apply to magazines -- you tell us what you think we'll think will be the most important articles inside. Thus, I needn't look any further to decide that I won't be buying this issue. It's the digital era and print publications are suffering -- Newsweek announced last week that it will stop print production in January 2013 -- and you need us. Your jobs depend on us buying your work. Where's the effort and the fresh content? Publishing the same articles we've read a million times before is an already existing injury that much of the insult noted above was added to.
In conclusion, I'm just asking you to show women a little more respect. You're supposed to be on our team! We do care about having good hair and having clean skin, but this doesn't make us stupid. Expecting us to not notice things like Taylor Swift's face and the hierarchy of your content makes you seem stupid. And you're not either.
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