Clash of the covers

March 23, 2006

And now for a source of undeniable irritiation, but at the same time irresistable attraction – “women’s” magazines.

For a start I hate that they are called “women’s” magazines, usually disparagingly.  We need to find another name for them – how about “Celebrity Gossip Mags” or “Journals of Images Designed To Make You Feel Bad About Yourself And Hate Your Fellow Sisters”?  Or even “Contradictory And Untrue Stories About Famous People Plus Some Really Rather Good Recipes”?

It’s frustrating.  If you read the back part of these mags, minus the back four or five pages of minor celebrity gossip that didn’t make it on to the cover, they’re actually not that bad.  They have recipes, parenting advice, witty columns, letters from readers, puzzles, and the ever-amusing horoscopes and psychic columns.  Removing the seemingly obligatory weightloss rubbish* and other articles that are bad for your body image, and ditching the “news” about people who seem to be largely famous for having their photos in magazines, would improve them no end.

What never ceases to crack me up is the clash of the covers.  Each magazine apparently competes for the photos and stories that will sell the magazine to the reading public – namely the newest scandal or sensation about a movie star or model and their relationship (or lack of).  And yet, kind of like creation stories, they all seem to be equally false.

Every week the covers will contradict each other, often quite hilariously.  At the height of the Pitt-Anniston-Joulie saga three magazines would have three different messages (and accompanying photos) – Brad and Jen Back Together?  Anniston Finds New Love!  Angelina and Brad pregnant at last!! 

How much of it is true?  Probably none of it.  Particularly this week.  One cover proclaimed that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (the new Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston apparently) were already married (apparently this is a shock and also very important indeed).  Another stated boldly Katie Cracks:  The Trush Behind Those Split Rumours, with, of course a story of a distraught and heavily pregnant Holmes.

I tend to feel sorry for these people, although I probably shouldn’t.  My partner is always pointing out to me that they court this attention and as such should just have to eat it up when it turns on them.  But if I had to conduct my life, and in particular my relationship, in the hot glare of the paparazzi camera, I wouldn’t cope with the strain for long. 

I think about the Anniston-Pitt break-up, and I consider all the rumours, for all those years, running to what must be millions of column inches, predicting a break-up or a baby, scrutinising their body language in shots at a movie premiere, speculating on why they didn’t have children yet, reporting rumours of various affairs or fights.  There seemed to be pressure on them, since the day they were married, to divorce, and even now that that is happening the publicity doesn’t let up.  Some people even seemed perversely happy that their marriage was over – I saw comments online that indicated the sad authors thought they now had a chance with Brad or Jennifer themselves.  I guess when the people on the pedestal fail your own inability to keep a relationship going doesn’t seem so bad, perhaps.

I find it depressing that so many women, who are in fact intelligent and savvy, spend time and money on these magazines, when publications that are a bit less self-loathing and a lot more interesting fail (can you tell I was a Grace fan?)  But ultimately I love having a flick through when I’m at the doctor’s – it must be the pretty pictures because I really can’t explain the attraction.  But as irresistable as a quick look is, I’m yet to give any of my money over the counter for one.  Yet.
* Seriously, if anyone told you you could make your ears smaller by rubbing oil on you’d think they were mad, but somehow if it’s your thighs it’s possible
PS – Picture found on a page with a blog post about the self-loathing inherent in Fashion Week, which seemed somehow appropriate. 

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One Response to “Clash of the covers”


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