Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Can I Just Say This

I know the entire glossy women's media and associated advertising industry wants me to find fault with my own body, but I'm afraid I genuinely like it.

Actually, I more than like my own body. I *really* like it. I really like my legs and my arse and my breasts and my tummy and my arms and my back and my neck and my feet and all the rest of it. I like my wrinkles and my scars and my stretch marks and my moles. There isn't anything about my body I would change.

(Except maybe I could be a bit taller, but only so I could kiss the lovely Mr BC without having to stand on tiptoes.)

So I'm afraid I'm not going to buy your anti-ageing creams or go to your gyms or frequent your cosmetic surgeons or subject myself to your diets. And while we're at it, I'm not going to buy any of your stupid clothes that you designed for tall skeletal women, or your handbags that cost more than a month's rent.

When there's a glossy women's magazine about Pictish archaeology, steampunk literature and American indie-pop, then I'll buy it.

All right?

(Can you tell I've been reading Observer Woman Makes Me Spit?)

UPDATE: It's not just me, either: Clair feels the same, and so does Belle de Jure. I love the Observer, but the whole point of OWM completely eludes me. Does the paper realise that it's insulting its female readers to the extent that a fair few seem to have stopped buying it on the days the OWM comes out? If it's going to insist on foisting the vacuous trash that is OWM upon its female readers, why doesn't it go all the way and bring out a monthly Observer Lads supplement, full of lager ads and cars and scantily clad birds? Grrr.


James said...

I shall be the first to say "Good for you"

Tim Footman said...

Make Mr BC crouch a little.

Sylvia said...

Oh no, you've got to stand on tiptoes to kiss a man.
Oh dear - is that being heightist?

Well, I'll be second to say good for you. Having to rein in my 'hate everything about me' tendancies as it's rubbing onto my three daughters, so I have to be very careful and keep telling them how lovely they are, which they are, mainly because they look nothing like me. All have lovely long legs, don't have cellulite that resembles a relief map of the himalayas, nor veins on their legs that could double as a motorway map of the UK, nor fat arses that barely clear the axminster (ooh - I'm in full Victoria Wood mode here!) and so forth.

Men are so lucky - they don't have any of this shite. Nor would women, if they didn't buy those pesky magazines!

patroclus said...

In my defence, he *is* quite tall.

Just don't buy those magazines, Sylvia - they're nothing but vacuous, self-serving crap.

Clair said...

I agree, Patroclus. Since I've stopped buying - and working on - magazines whose trade is making women feel like slurry, my life has improved immeasurably. And I've lost weight. How did that happen?

Billy said...

"Men are so lucky - they don't have any of this shite"

Erm... have you ever read a men's magazine? We're catching up, more's the pity.

Spitting Mad said...


Oh, and stand on a box.


Sylvia said...

Billy - oh no - back awaaay from the magazines - they are eviiiillll.

The only magazines I tend to buy these days are Healthy magazine from Holland and Barrett (aka hypochondriacs monthly) and the Sainsbury magazine (aka triumph of hope over experience monthly, or crap cooks monthly).

Still, I have to say that a bit of blokey grooming would not go amiss. I remember the day a colleague of mine was introduced to deodorant by his boyfriend we celebrated by taking the nose pegs off.

Fidel said...

"good for you" sounds a bit patronising as if in other circumstances you may not be proud of yourself or have no reason to be.

But anyway, its good to hear you are content.

What it is not so good to hear is that you continue in reading the bloody Observer as if its some liberal bible that can only go wrong on the odd occasion. The whole thing is a middle class tool for denial and absolving the guilt of being bright and relatively well off. In the main you end up with what you deserve. Continuing reading the Guardian and Observer just delays the onset of the Victor Meldrew syndrome where you finaly recognise that you deserve a few breaks and that the rest of the moaning spongeing cheating hoards fighting and scratching to climb over each other(and you) really can go to hell. Next Sunday get yerself a torygraph, shelve the guilt, lie back and read about holidays in Tuscany or whatever. Start enjoying life.

belladona said...

Sooo what you said. I like me. I think I'm ok. I can't be arsed to do all that stuff with creams and masks and what-not, even if I could see the reason for it. I have better things to do, like read SFX instead of rubbishy women's magazines. What I really can't believe is that it took so long to find a magazine that I actually wanted to read. I'm a girl - this doesn't mean that I'm therefore only interested in lipstick, handbags, dieting and sex. Well, maybe the sex part. I'm hardly going to buy a £4 magazine for one article though am I?

patroclus said...

Bella: Absolutely. And do you get free Dr Who badges with Observer Woman Magazine? You do not.

Fidel: I've nothing against the Torygraph - it's my second favourite paper. I don't know where I'd be without my middle class guilt, though. Tuscany, by the sounds of it.

Valerie said...

I'm sorry. All this talk of height forces me to a Monty Python quote:

Schlick: Jim, I feel here, that Scott may be too tall in the area of height with reference to Vanilla who is too near the ground in the area of being too short at this time.
McRettin: Great ... Oh, I know. I'm going to dig a pit for Scott and put a box in Vanilla's trench.
Scott: Say, why don't I take the boxes off and Vanilla get up out of the trench?
McRettin: It wouldn't work... It's even better! Great. Rewrite!
Evans: What was that?
McRettin: Oh, it's easy. I've worked it out. Scott takes his boxes off and you don't stand in the trench.
Evans: I say my lines out of the trench?
McRettin: Even better. Great.
Evans: But I've never acted out of a trench. I might fall over. It's dangerous.
McRettin: Oh well, could you just try it?
Evans: Look, you crumb bum, I'm a star. Star, star, star. I don't get a million dollars to act out of a trench. I played Miss St John the Baptist in a trench, (she walks along in the trench and we see that she has two boxes strapped to her feet) and I played Miss Napoleon Bonaparte in a trench, and I played Miss Alexander Fleming in a furrow so if you want this scene played out of a trench, well you just get yourself a goddamn stuntman. (walks off) I played Miss Galileo in a groove and I played Mrs Jesus Christ in a geological syncline, so don't...


In my first year of university I wrote a paper on the mixed messages that the magazine Cosmopolitan served up to women — lots of articles on how to succeed in the career world and break the glass ceiling, coupled with advertising that told a woman to diet, make herself up like a tart and be submissive. It was a strange combination. Luckily they've gotten the hint and only give out one message now.. yeah, guess which one.

rivergirlie said...

owm has just got it so wrong, hasn't it? all women's magazines are, as you say, designed to create dissatisfaction and anxiety as a way of fuelling consumer desire. and i can sort of accept that - but owm is so smug and patronising. and i HATE the way it kind of identifies itself as an entity 'owm loves this' and 'owm says that'. so phoney! grrrr
(of course, i'll totally change my tune if they accept the article i've just pitched to them - but i bet they won't)

patroclus said...

Valerie: I used to think there was something wrong with me as a woman, because I just wasn't interested in anything that Cosmo (or any of the others) tried to tell me. Now I realise that there's nothing wrong with me at all. I should have spent my 20s reading Wired instead; I would have saved myself a lot of gender anguish.

Rivergirlie: Best of luck with that - what's the article about, or is it a secret?

Sylvia said...

It's not just the looks business that's designed to make us feel bad about ourselves, but everything else too. Magazines like good housekeeping, etc, aimed at the more mature market, get their readers in other ways too. I gave up reading these magazines because it was full of women who looked great, had 20 kids, and ran huge corporations single handed that they'd started from their own kitchens. Oh, and they all have husbands 20 years younger than themselves.
I could go on, but it's too depressing.
And don't get me started on the childcare magazines!

Liz said...

Worse than all of these is Weightwatchers magazine. I found a copy on the sofa of my size 10 mother-in-law yesterday. (She is a member. I have no idea why - she's in amazingly good shape.) I had a flick through, and it was some of the most guilt-making, fascist crap I have ever read. All these women were starting from about my size (I'm a 14 and I look pretty darn good - you can't be a skinny food writer) and dieting down to a very thin 8 or thereabouts. Their diet stories (and there were page upon page of them) were punctuated with 'in progress' photos of the women at office parties, in holiday snaps, in swimsuits - and all of them hunched up, looking miserable and trying to hide behind their clothes. They all looked fine - better than fine - before reaching their alarmingly skinny target weights, but tremendously unhappy and lacking in confidence. These feelings appeared to have been fed solely by the bloody magazine that they were appearing in and its two-page spreads calling normal shaped women fat and imprecating the pork pie.

GreatSheElephant said...

Well, if I had your figure I'd probably feel pretty good about it too :-)

I can't say there's anything much about my body that I like but equally, nothing I do makes much difference so why waste time and effort worrying about it? I've got other priorities, like feeling inadequate about my career and relationships.

cello said...

My body and I have come to an arrangement; I don't like it and it doesn't like me, but we try not to bother each other.

Observer Woman is so much more despicable than other women's magazines because it insinuates itself into your home wrapped in total package with a veneer of concern about the Iraq War, education, global warming etc.

And how dare the Observer dictate to me which supplement I might choose to read by labelling a topic by demography? It doesn't label Sport Observer Men does it?

I have made my views known to the organisation on a number of occasions.

patroclus said...

>>I have made my views known to the organisation on a number of occasions.<<

I can imagine that you have, cello. Did the powers that be offer any kind of rationale for it, apart from getting loads of advertising cash off Gucci and the like?

llewtrah said...

I'm resigned to my body. It's coped with years of alternating overeating and dieting. Sure I'd like to be slim again and there are bits that sag or wobble, but that's what bodies do as they transport us through life.

Snog Mr BC while you stand on the stairs. It worked for my diminutive schoolfriend and her much taller b/f.

cello said...

There's a limit to what I should say here, P. But you are quite right in your deduction that advertising cash is the main motivation behind all the monthly mags.

I don't mind that in itself. After all, the Observer still makes a big net loss and is subsidised by the rest of the Guardian Media Group's activities. Just like C4 and Big Brother, it's a medium managed by a trust in the public interest but dependent on commercial revenues so it has to do trade-offs from time to time.

The two issues are the content itself and how they package it. I think they exhibit classic split personality syndrome, covering fashion and beauty, mixing affordable high street or charity shop fashion with designer ranges. And maybe some readers want that.

But what I most object to is the name of the thing, as if it encompasses everything that women are interested in. Woman's Hour does it of course but one can just about forgive it because a)it's been around for ever and b)at least it profiles female artists, scientists and achievers as well as discussing serious topics of particular interest to women.

Will email with the juicy bits!

Sylvia said...

We want the juicy bits too, Cello. Ooh, you shouldn't have mentioned the juicy bits.....

realdoc said...

The observer's specialist mags are a bit peculiar. I like the music one and the food one, the sport one I can take or leave. I just can't see the point of the women's one. They should be a bit more imaginative and have a different niche one every fourth week. How about one for voyeurs? They could call it the Observer Observer Magazine, just a thought.

james henry said...


GreatSheElephant said...

Actually, the only one I really enjoy is the sports one which is odd because I hate and detest observer sports. The music one bores me rigid, the food one makes me want to slice and saute the appallingly precious Nigel and the women's one - well I actually like looking at pictures of new lipsticks to buy but it does just seem rather pointless really.

Rach said...

Anyone up for publishing a Pictish archaeology/steampunk literature/ American indie-pop magazine? I've got some time on my hands, and I'm sure Lulu could oblige...