Anna-Lou Weatherley: women's fiction author
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#magslagheap

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Trashy celeb weeklies are the Pot noodle of the consumer women’s mag market today: dirty but you sorta can’t help wanting one from time to time.

As an ex-editor of a couple of women’s monthlies and a bi-weekly, I was at the back end of the glossy’s halcyon days; it was fast becoming a defunct dinosaur by the time I switched to writing novels and was being edged off the shelf by an influx of selfie-obsessed, instant Instagram social media-led new generation of celeb-obsessed consumerism. In my humble opinion, the unashamedly trashy weeklies have changed the face of female-led ‘journalism’ today, not necessarily for the better but boy, are they a truck load of fun or what?

During my thrice daily visit to my local Tesco metro today I stopped to look at the ‘consumer women’s section’. The shelf was saturated with titles resplendent with their shouty headlines and neon splashes boasting that they were ‘30p cheaper’ (possibly in every sense) than their director competitors. Feeling particularly naught I bought one…and a chocolate croissant.

It had the usual suspects on the cover: Kim; Cheryl, Michelle, Lauren, Emily, Jordan…plus the deal-breaking headline: ‘Diet Disasters.’ Brilliant. I looked forward to reading about the size of Kim Kardashian’s arse (for the record; unfathomably large in comparison to the rest of her) while I stuffed my face with French pastry.

Here is what I learned:  poor Michelle Keegan is apparently ‘under attack’ for being too skinny. I translated this as ‘She looks waaay too good and happy; we’ll have to burst that bubble!’  Elsewhere Kim K was struggling to get her weight down in the run up to her wedding to Kanye (her ever-increasing  derrière reminded me of an old Kenny Everett sketch parodying Rod Stewart where his bottom becomes more and more inflated until it bursts to the backing track of ‘Do ya think I’m sexy?’); Emily (Peter Andres’ demure looking baby momma) looks ‘amazing’ having just given birth, which let’s face it she would do because she’s only about twelve;  Lauren TOWIE  is pictured looking a little full of face as she allegedly ‘falls off the diet wagon at boozy bash’(not literally I hope, though I’m sure she would be grateful for all that supposed extra padding in such an unfortunate event)  and is no doubt delighted at being  juxtaposed next to her ex love’s incredibly slim and toned current squeeze which let’s face it is enough to make most of us reach for that second bottle of Lambrini and a family bag of Doritos.

Apparently Cheryl ‘Biffa’ Cole gets her revenge on Nicole at last! You can tell just by looking at Chez’s nonchalant expression that whatever it is Nicole has done to warrant such retribution from her clearly another day has passed where she doesn’t actually give a f**k….Jordan ditches her no carbs rule and binges on husbands, sorry, takeaways, and last but by no means least, MIC’s Andy and his remarkably large nostrils bleats on about Louie being weak for shagging the narcissistic walking clap clinic that is Spencer Mathews. Again (i.e he was a crap shag so she went back to her ex).

And that was just the cover; inside was more of the same: the cover story on Michelle Keegan explained how she had been targeted by twitter trolls for being too skinny, no doubt being pictured in magazines likes this one looking perfect and in love on a beach with her equally tanned and toned celeb boyfriend actively fuelling such blatant jealousy. Kym Marsh/Lomax/whatevs and her ex-husband have publically played out the post-divorce one up-manship game by boasting about how much happier and contented they are without each other thus letting us all know how truly miserable and fucked off they really are without each other; there was a dps dedicated to pregnant celebs with headlines that screamed,  ‘I eat everything’, ‘I don’t like being lazy’ ,‘I want my energy back’ and my personal favourite, ‘I’m scared’, all of which sends a pretty negative message to a generation of potential future mothers that if you decide to do what mother nature arguably intended  you’ll end up a fat, greedy, lazy, terrified and exhausted wreck just like them! Cheryl’s ‘revenge’ (cue manic sinister laugh) actually amounted to her announcing her comeback to X-factor on the very same day that Nicole Sherzinger launched her range of dresses, (the total bitch). This breaking news piece suggested this had been a deliberate and calculated ploy by Chezza and her peeps to upstage the hardly demure Ms Sherzinger. It would be rather fun to think it was though in all probability it was simply pure coincidence and lack of communication because let’s face the world is ill equipped to deal with both these life changing events.

A whole page was dedicated to KK’s arse (to be fair it needed it) and unashamedly used the word ‘curvy’ which is mag speak for ‘fat’ a record gazillon times. It debated whether or not KK had recently undergone a butt lift, a procedure whereby fat is ‘harvested’ (yuk) from elsewhere on the body and re-distributing it in ‘yo ass’, something she strenuously denies, though does not go on to offer any alternative explanation as to why the rest of her has remained so disproportionately tiny. Frankly I’m genuinely concerned that if her bottom gets any bigger it will need its own zip code. In our diet-obsessed culture where being thin is akin to popularity and success it seems somehow ironic that having  a ‘fatty’ is hip. Personally I’m holding out for bingo wings to become Vogue. You read it here first, folks!

Then we were asked to check out Frankie Saturday’s new bod – another post-partum young mum looking weary in her gym gear, no doubt deranged with worry that she hadn’t lost all her baby weight the very next day after giving birth –  who had been thoughtfully juxtaposed next to a delightfully smug Emily, who clearly has.

There was more: ‘Chantelle’s desperate’ claimed a complete nobody, attacking a complete nobody and having a dig about her struggle to lose her baby weight, citing breath-taking hypocrisy by suggesting the former celeb BB star had only gained and lost weight in a bid to ultimately cash in on a forthcoming fitness video. Chantelle responded a few pages further with a ‘shame on you’ denial. So look out for it soon on Amazon.

TOWIE’s Danielle admitted she was ‘wrong to call Gemma Collins fat’ though she didn’t retract the ‘slag’ part and failed to include the word ‘gobshite’ at all – a blatant oversight surely?  There was also a picture-led feature on TOWIE surgery ‘shockers’ picturing before and after shots of the reality TV stars where you couldn’t tell which was before and which was after, though in one of the pics Bobby wasn’t wearing his glasses which was admittedly so shocking I had to have a quick lie down to recover.

The rest was filler; catalogue fashion, Chloe Simm’s make up bag contents (which let’s face it could’ve filled the entire issue), James Lock in his underpants (all Lock and no c**k by the looks of things) a quick-flick-past-it  real-life, some truly pointless horoscopes (please let me write you some better ones) and the contents of Jodie Albert’s fridge, because be honest, it’s been keeping you awake at night hasn’t it? It’s the not knowing that really torments…

It was a good job I read this weekly in the bath; it left me feeling as if I needed one.

As undeniably entertaining as all this was, and it was, I can’t lie and say I didn’t enjoy some of it, I was rather concerned that the issue was dedicated almost entirely to women’s bodies and weight issues. It’s little wonder girls as young as eight are fretting about body image when magazines like this one seem to unashamedly actively promote such concerns.

My biggest sadness however was the breath-taking lack of female camaraderie; it was a platform for a bitch fest of women hating on other women and being critical of each other and themselves to such a degree that it bordered on bullying. I had to check the masthead to be sure that it wasn’t edited by Katie Hopkins (the walking embodiment of the adage ‘you end up with the face you deserve in life).

I think I can, if I may, speak for most women when I say that we all love to gossip, and this particular title certainly delivered in that respect, but in doing so I couldn’t help but feel it has now become the norm for women to be catty and unpleasant towards each other, playing out their grievances via mags like this and social media with little fear of recrimination.

Magazines written predominantly by women were once about women, for women, and in some cases to inspire and empower women, of which this failed to deliver on the last two counts.

But this is the world we live in today; it’s not the magazine’s fault, personally I think the editor and her team did a better than average job of delivering exactly what it said on the tin and in that respect is to be commended. But it did make me hanker after the old days where women’s titles did actually include some half decent journalism and where bitchiness was actively discouraged and delivered in the form of good-natured humour. Titles like this one in my opinion simply support the message that it’s relatively easy to become a ‘celebrity’ these days even without an education and/or any career ambition. Just so long as you can get yourself on a TV show, get your kit off, marry or date someone else who has been on in a TV show, then you’re laughing all the way to your own make-up/fitness vid/clothing range – and ultimately the bank. It sends the message that the more outspoken and controversial you are (step forward Ms Hopkins, oh no, actually please don’t) when it comes to commenting on other women and their lifestyle choices, the further you’ll go.

I realise that things have moved on and changed, as they rightly must and while I run the  risk of sounding outdated I do miss the days when women’s mags were a real platform for female voices, where all varieties of the spectrum were catered for – Grazia is perhaps the only title currently attempting it, and the recently defunct title More was a good example of women behaving badly while maintaining a friendly ‘for the sisterhood’ tone. In a forum where the specifications of KK’s arse are deemed important it’s no surprise if young women today don’t aspire to be or do something worthwhile with their lives. Just so long as you’re thin, have the potential to be famous, or date someone famous and are happy to slag off other women then it’s happy days all the way.

And maybe I would be employable again.

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