PRINT IS DEAD
If you’ve spent any more than a minimal amount of time with me, you’ve probably heard one of my most-repeated rants – how much I hate women’s magazines.
Reasons why (that are generally included in the rant, if you’re unlucky enough to have not been treated to it already) include:
- 85% of the magazine I paid £3.50 or more for is blatant advertising
- Articles like “how to keep your man happy!!1!” and “how to lose 26lbs in a week!”
- Body shaming. EVERYWHERE
- Boring interviews with boring celebrities
- The ‘beauty’ sections are shit. Literally, every ‘makeup tutorial’ is the same and requires £158 worth of products
- Regular recycling of subject matter
- The assumption that I am willing to spend £897 on a dress
- Vapid, pointless and boring articles about pointless shit
- Feeling openly patronised by the choice of subject matter
- Whitewashing, photoshop, aspirations to the impossible
- MORE CELEBRITIES. I DON’T CARE ABOUT CELEBRITIES
- ‘Investment Pieces’
- Underlying echoes of 1950’s gender roles
- The niggling feeling that the entire women’s magazine industry is a conspiracy created by old white men to brainwash women
Despite the fact a version of this rant manages to escape my mouth a couple of times a month, and has done for the last few years, I somehow still manage to buy a women’s mag every now and then – which starts the entire cycle of ranting all over again.
So I decided that for 2017, I’m going to stop wasting my money on magazines. Elle, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, InStyle, Marie Claire and all you other ‘women’s interest’ publications out there – you can kiss goodbye to my hard earned cash! Even if you do include a really great ‘freebie’ – it’s not free if you just paid £4 for a steaming pile of dog turd. I see you, trying to influence my purchasing decisions with that Benefit mascara… I see you.
I’m apparently not the only one who feels this way. While there is still a market out there, print advertising (the real driving monetary force behind magazines) is slowly dying. People now prefer to make purchase decisions by looking at brands’ websites, social media, and the opinions of real people they trust. Readership of magazines and newspapers has been dropping steadily for years – with the internet accessible from your pocket, it’s easier than ever before to curate your own feeds of information and entertainment that you are actually interested in. Magic!
What this means is that online content and news is going from strength to strength. Online-only women’s magazines, and blogs aimed at female readers are popping up everywhere – and they’re full of content that women actually want to read about. I’m sick of editors assuming that all I want to read about is designer clothes and celebrities, so it’s so refreshing to find a website bringing me articles on how best to organise my shoes alongside a look at the history of the textile industry in Cuba. I might be a well-educated, financially independent 21st Century feminist, but I still like shoes.
Blogs and online-only magazines also have the edge on print in other ways:
- They’re digital, so no trees were harmed during their publication
- They’re constantly updated, so there’s always new information to absorb
- They take up no space in your house. LOOK HOW TIDY MY COFFEE TABLE IS
- There’s unlimited space on the site and often little or no advertisers to please, so neither of these affect the content or subject matter
- The writers are often young journalists or college graduates starting their careers – and some are even set up by teenagers (e.g. Rookie founded by Tavi Gevinson)
- It’s impossibly easy to share stuff you like with your friends or followers
Have I convinced you yet? Are you coming over to the digital-only side?
If you’re up for a read, here are my favourite websites and blogs I’ll be replacing women’s magazines with this year…
“Sex, politics, culture, witchcraft. Women’s news you thought would exist by now”
I discovered Broadly last year and have been regularly absorbing their content ever since. They’re the female-oriented offshoot of Vice, but honestly I much prefer their site over the regular Vice stuff (I finally unfollowed Vice after one of their writers used the word ‘raped’ in an appallingly inappropriate context).
Looking at the Broadly homepage below – a screenshot on a totally random day – shows their recent stories include an update on the case of a female US whistleblower, a feature on stranded Haitian migrants, and reassurance that eating pizza after binge drinking is okay. Overall, the site is a good mix of well-researched articles covering a whole host of topics – I’ve read about photography, art, science, sex, fertility, porn, history, politics, the environment, sociology and psychology, and a lot more.
I follow them on Twitter – where they regularly post their articles and I often find ones I’ve missed – as well as YouTube. Their YouTube is very good as well – high production values coupled with interesting subject matter and hard-hitting interviews with switched-on, smart women make for a very informative, thought-provoking and entertaining watch.
“Shopping, for real life.”
A much more recent discovery, Racked is what I feel like a women’s fashion magazine should really be like.
Their topics are divided into Beauty, Menswear, Entertainment, Cities and Longform – and although the site is essentially a fashion magazine, there’s more substance here than you would expect.
Just with a quick browse, I find comment on the ludicrous pricing of Melania Trump’s makeup artist’s skincare line; promotion of feminist merch that supports the eradication of the patriarchy; a list of wedding dresses under $1k; reviews of bras, bags and shoes; and commentary on how politics will influence what clothes you buy this year.
This is a fashion magazine for real women – women who have to buy clothes but have other shit they need to do that’s much more important. Women who are not about to spend £3k on a pair of shoes; they just want some boots that will last them through a snowy winter. The only thing I will say is it does have ads – but that’s why adblocker was invented, y’know?
“For all women.”
Standard Issue is the brainchild of Sarah Millican, who was (like me!) sick to the back teeth of women’s magazines – so she started her own. It’s a brilliant site full of normal women talking about their lives, the arts, lifestyle, news, health and food.
It’s bloody great.
Listen, anything that gives women a platform to talk about stuff that really matters to them – motherhood, grief, their bodies, pregnancy, money, their relationships and a billion other things – I am all for. I don’t have a big group of gal pals to discuss ‘women’s issues’ with, and sites like this are the next best thing.
GUILTY FEMINIST PODCAST
“Ever feel like you’re not good enough at feminism?”
My boyfriend listens to podcasts daily – on his long commute to and from work, as well as at the gym – and although his are football and cricket podcasts (yawn), I felt left out enough to go looking for some of my own. That’s when I came across the Guilty Feminist.
When I first discovered the podcasts I was listening to them every day on the bus journey to and from work – occasionally dissolving into fits of giggles in public and not giving a flying fig. Covering topics ranging from hair removal to crying, periods to promiscuity, porn to saying sorry – every single one I listened to was so relatable and just HILARIOUS that I immediately went and followed both Sofie Hagen and Deborah Frances-White on Twitter. And I don’t look up people on Twitter. Like, ever.
I love the topics, I love the challenges they set themselves, and I love the comedians that present it – but most of all I love the “I’m a feminist, but…” introduction to the show. The laughs are multiplied by the live audience, so it almost feels like you’re all in a hall discussing these hard-hitting topics but also giggling about the ridiculous contradictions of life.
Honestly, just go and pick one and listen to it. You need some comedy in your day.
Thanks for reading!
Is there anything you read that you want to recommend? Let me know below!