GWAS Glossy Yearbook 2008

The pop culture, magazine & pretty thing happenings of 2008...

As GWAS jumps off the treadmill that is the blogosphere and heads to Sydney's northern beaches for some downtime with the fam, and the mag girls put the finishing touches on their March editions and kick up their heels, let's take a minute to reflect on the year that was in the Land of Gloss...

The most talked about magazine launches of the year...
The titles we said farewell to in 2008...
  • The Bulletin (ACP Magazines)
  • New Woman (ACP Magazines)
  • Vive (POL Publishing)
  • CosmoGIRL!
  • ELLE Accessories
Aussie Glossy Land's game of musical chairs...
  • Harper's Bazaar's Alison Veness McGourty took on Grazia
  • Jamie Huckbody appointed editor of Harper's Bazaar
  • New Idea/Pacific Magazines' Robyn Foyster made EIC of The Australian Women's Weekly – goes on paid three-month hiatus before commencing work at Park Street (whee - holiday!);
  • Mirella Cestaro made EIC of New Idea;
  • New Idea weathers sh*tstorm over Prince Harry 'media blackout' saga;
  • Kerrie McCallum leaves Shop Til You Drop for InStyle
  • Justine Cullen appointed editor of Shop Til You Drop
  • Nedahl Stelio leaves CLEO to pursue "other projects"
  • Sarah Oakes leaves Girlfriend for CLEO
  • Fashion director Jo Ferguson departs CLEO; moves onto NW and Woman's Day
  • Zoe Foster leaves Harper's Bazaar to edit (live on August 19)
  • Sarah Cornish left Total Girl for Girlfriend
  • Amanda Taylor made editor of Total Girl
  • Kerry Parnell leaves Marie Claire to take on Glamour (now shelved)
  • Charlotte Scott leaves RUSSH; is replaced by Natalie Shukur
The people and pop culture events making headlines in Glossy Land...
  • Heath Ledger's death (January 23);
  • Andrew Morton's "unauthorised" Tom Cruise biography;
  • UK ELLE founding editor Sally Brampton writes of her depression in Shoot The Dam Dog: A Memoir of Depression; former Woman's Day editor Nene King talks nervous breakdowns with Steve Dow; former UK Marie Claire editor Liz Jones discusses the glossy posse's thin obsession;
  • Tyra Banks threatens to usurp Oprah as the queen of the talk show circuit;
  • The US writer's strike causes a fuss;
  • Hillary Clinton's electoral campaign results in a teary; power suits make a comeback; Clinton appointed Secretary of State;
  • Teen Vogue cuts ties with The Hills;
  • Project Runway's Nina Garcia makes a cameo on Ugly Betty; ELLE's Anne Slowey debuts Stylista; Garcia moves to US Marie Claire;
  • Bill Henson's controversial photography for Art World results in a NSW government review of laws regulating child nudity and art;
  • Russh Australia uses 16-year-old model Zippora Seven in a provocative beach shoot; Vogue Australia features Seven in its December 2008 issue; a primary school teacher is fired after appearing naked with her partner in CLEO;
  • The skinny model issue overshadows fashion week; the age limit for models at Australian Fashion Week is set at 16; Russian model Ruslana Korshunova commits suicide;
  • Rachel Zoe turns reality TV subject;
  • Is size 0 over?;
  • Rachel Zoe up-sizes for the September issue of US Harper's Bazaar; says she never feels sexy;
  • 90210 brings skinny back;
  • Photoshop cops it;
  • Everyone is girl crushing on Carla Bruni;
  • The 90s supermodels return in full force;
  • Anna Wintour is named an OBE for services to British journalism and British fashion in the US; Wintour denies she will retire;
  • Italian Vogue publishes an "all black" issue;
  • The Olympic games makes stars out of swimmers Michael Phelps and Stephanie Rice;
  • Sex and the City The Movie, Australia and Twilight take movie marketing to a whole new level, with the glossies only too happy to inflate the hype;
  • Famous goes cheap, lowering its cover price from $4.50 to $3.50;
  • Maxim magazine names Sarah Jessica Parker the "unsexiest woman alive"; later makes her its "unexpected crush" of the month;
  • Kath & Kim is poorly received in the US... kind of like Kylie Minogue and Vegemite;
  • Kylie Minogue turns 40!;
  • Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr are Australia's new sweethearts; Lara Bingle and Michael Clarke are the new Bec and Lleyton;
  • Power lesbians Lindsay and LiLo, Ellen and Portia and Jess and Ruby grab headlines;
  • Australian Cosmopolitan magazine gets 100 pages fatter starting with the September issue;
  • Scarlett Johansson makes the cover of the re-designed Australian Marie Claire;
  • The green/eco movement is nudged aside by the global financial crisis;
  • "Credit crunch" and "recessionista" enter the media lexicon ("eco chic" no longer the cool kid);
  • Alaska's vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin gives Tina Fey's career a boost;
  • ACP magazines' internal publicity department was expendable;
  • Sarah Murdoch usurps Jodhi Meares as the host of Australia's Next Top Model;
  • Jodhi's ex, James Packer, bails out of PBL Media;
  • Britney gets her body back (gossip mags go bananas), wins at the MTV awards, goes 'on the record' for MTV, makes covers of Glamour, Australian Cosmo (looking fives years' younger) and Rolling Stone;
  • The Paid Maternity Leave Scheme is shelved thanks to the tightening of government purse strings;
  • Barack Obama wins the US election; is named Time magazine's person of the year;
  • Jennifer Aniston won't shut up;
  • Women loathe Nicole Kidman;
  • But celebrity mums are the business ;
  • Roberta Myers oversees US ELLE magazine's best year yet; Glamour's Cindi Leive named Forbes' most powerful fashion magazine editor;
  • The Australian edition of Glamour is shelved indefinitely;
  • Weekly magazines experience a circulation nosedive (with the exception of OK!), while the likes of Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue and Women's Health hold their readership ground;
  • Mischa Barton's fashion credibility plummets; Gwyneth Paltrow's skyrockets. This is Very Important to know... on par with what's happening in Afghanistan.
Top Cover Girl Commodities
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Reese Witherspoon
  • Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Britney Spears
  • Madonna
  • Keira Knightley
  • Rachel Bilson
  • Jessica Alba
  • Blake Lively
  • Kate Bosworth
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Victoria Beckham
  • Heidi Klum
GWAS Glossy Awards
  • Magazine of the Year: Marie Claire Australia; runners-up Shop Til You Drop and Women's Health
Marie Claire is looking youthful and fresh in its smaller, plumper package. The editorial is always diverse and the fashion pages continue to set the bar. Shop Til You Drop has been the underdog of the mainstream glossies but is consistently on-target and sells like hotcakes. Women's Health, with its cheeky tone, random pop cultural references and girls-kick-ass fitness focus is a breath of fresh air. Special mention also to Franie magazine, who never fails to inspire and remind us that not all women's magazines need contain mind-and-energy sucking diet/exercise/sex advice (unless it's done particularly well, as in Women's Health, of course!).
  • Editor of the Year: Alexandra Shulman @ UK Vogue
While editors are often shrouded by an aura of mystery, Shulman put her journalistic skills to paper several times this year to share her thoughts on everything from ageing and cosmetic surgery, to beauty's changing faces and Victoria Beckham. Enlightening. And UK Vogue continues to be one of my preferred glossy purchases.
  • Glossy Writer of the Year: Sarah Wilson for Madison
Freelance writer and former Cosmopolitan editor Sarah Wilson's feature stories are always remarkably intimate, well-researched and articulated, and tap into the female zeitgeist. Her piece on the "thrisis" for Madison was fantastic, as was "The Big Secret".

In the same vein, I am always impressed by Vogue Australia's first-person pieces (example: Jessica Rowe's recent story on post-natal depression). Thoughtfully and expertly written, with a level of depth unsurpassed by other glossies, they offer a poignant glimpse into the lives and minds of other women in a non-trivialised/commercialised/overly simplifed way.
  • Magazine Makeover of the Year: Marie Claire Australia; UK ELLE
UK ELLE had some work done: is now sleek, streamlined, simplified and visually appealing, with a definite focus on fashion and rock-star edge. Editor Lorraine Candy often makes risky cover choices (Courtney Love?!), steering away from the more mainstream celebrity faces we're accustomed to seeing. Jumping on the recession bandwagon, columns like the Credit Crunch Shopper show ELLE knows its reader... an is unashamed to say she's a shopaholic (and is only too happy to encourage her superficial pursuits).
  • Beauty Editor of the Year: Eugenie Kelly @ Harper's Bazaar
I am always entertained by Kelly's writing: she makes the business (pleasure and pain) of beauty extremely palatable.
  • Design Award: UK ELLE; UK Glamour
These magazines are, as Derek Zoolander might say, ridiculously good looking. Fantastic page layouts (see ELLE, right), still-life photography, fashion and celebrity shoots.

This is GWAS signing off. I will be posting sporadically from now until around January 5, so check in if you are near a computer.

Thank you so much for visiting in 2008! Merry Christmas!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Mags: The Nicole Conundrum

As mentioned in yesterday's Latte Post, Nicole Kidman has positively polarised the population. From where I sit, there are two camps: the female, celebrity-media-consuming one, who largely dislike Kidman because she has been dishonest by omission about having 'work' done, is devoid of genuine acting talent and is a walking ad for the kind of unattainable perfectionism we loathe. Fair enough. Facebook has been a particularly vitriolic breeding ground for the haters.

The other camp consists of the not-as-media-literate (no bad thing) general public, who remain quite adoring of Kidman. My husband belongs to this club. So do some of my close friends and family members. And those who have seen Australia are even more emphatic with their praise of the actress. Most refer to the scene where she mounts her horse and has her first attempt at mustering cattle: "Ra, ra...!".

An online poll of 1000 Aussies by UMR Research conducted in November placed Nicole Kidman in the Top 10 Australian celebrities (yeah, I know there are slim pickings), with 58% having a positive perception of Nicole and 23% a negative one (compared to Hugh Jackman's respective 74% and 7%). More people like her than Kylie Minogue (53%) and Delta Goodrem (51%) but more people also dislike her (only 21% think negative thoughts about Kylie, but Delta's disliked by 24%), which is about on par with Elle Macpherson. To me, all these women (Nicole, Delta, Kylie and Elle) are of the same genre. All have clearly had a little work done – Macpherson may be the exception, but there is still something intrinsically fake about her; perhaps the accent? – and all are seemingly nice, Aussie-girls-next-door who've had international success and relationship dramas, yet remain somewhat elusive, their perfect exteriors masking what lies beneath. Yet Nicole has really copped it.

Obviously, inside the media bubble, with the exception of a few journalists who have come out in support of Kidman (perhaps just to be divisive) there is more hating going on compared to that of the general public. I obviously consume a heck of a lot of media, but having seen Australia (finally got around to seeing it on the weekend) and read the Q&A with Nicole in the December issue of US Glamour magazine, as well as contemplating our insatiable lust to know our celebrities warts-and-all, am now firmly on the fence... perhaps even erring towards the pro-Kidman side.

What I garnered from the Glamour feature, leading to this fence sitting position:
  • She is an ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), yet isn't photographed on the ground like Angelina despite making a point of visiting women's shelters in places like Kosovo when she can (she says "I feel dedicated to giving back to other women"). She also works to raise funds for breast and ovarian cancer (like Sarah Murdoch - and we all love her, right?);
  • She had to endure her new husband's stint in rehab in the face of a judgmental public but held her head high and is now positively circumspect about the experience ("the experience gave us deep honesty");
  • She was married to a crazy person, but has never spoken a bad word about Tom or Katie (unlike Jennifer Aniston), even joking with Glamour about her kids: "They're used to having a little one around, because of Suri. Bella is very maternal. Connor would like one of us to have a boy. Katie?"
  • She felt inferior as an actress when she was married to Tom: "I felt I became a star only by association. I didn't think [the early movies] were very good, which is why I would always cower in the background. I thought, I don't deserve to be here... I felt it was my job to put on a beautiful dress and be seen but not heard."
  • She was single for six years (remember how we loved her when she was single?!): "I went six years alone. I'm not saying it's for everyone, but it's better to be alone than in a lousy relationship. Work was my escape. I was existing more strongly in my creative world than in my own world... I had to find my own identity and reason for being here, and it couldn't be because of another person."
  • Even after winning her Oscar, she felt inferior, telling Glamour she went home early but if she could have the moment again would "stop being so shy and insecure, and revel in it... and go back to the Vanity Fair party!"
Amazing how a single feature story can change one's opinion. I can sympathise with her insecurities. Plus, we're all a product of our experiences, and I can imagine being married to the controlling Tom Cruise left an indelible mark on Kidman. Added to that, she's also just a shy girl who went to North Sydney Girls' High. Perhaps it's the Christmas spirit, but I feel increasingly compassionate towards her... Botox and all.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Mags: Oprah needs to give herself a break

What kind of message does it send to women when one of the most powerful females in the world admits that she is "mad at herself... embarrassed" because she has gained weight?

In the January edition of O The Oprah Magazine, no less than eight pages have been dedicated to the talk show queen's weight battle. Cover line: "How did I let this happen again?". A self-confessed fad and yo-yo dieter, WWD reports Winfrey, who writes the opening and closing essays each issue, "uses more ink in the January one to deconstruct how and why she has gained 40 pounds in four years, reaching 200 pounds." She writes: "I didn't just fall off the wagon. I let the wagon fall on me." She says: “this past year, I took myself off of my own priority list. I wasn’t just low on the list, I wasn’t even on the list.” Winfrey attributes the gain to a slow metabolism, missed meditation and workout sessions and not eating right.

But so what if she wasn't able to maintain the same rigorous exercise and diet regime as Madonna? Clearly she is a woman with more on her plate (no pun intended... sort of) than maintaining some external image to win the approval of her devoted fans. Do other women care if Winfrey is overweight? Would they really respect her any less if she stayed the shape she is now? And, by the same token, would they respect her more if she dropped the surplus pounds?

The media is prone to celebrating the weight loss of celebrities, for sure (particularly post-birth), but why does Winfrey have to play victim to the same game? Could she not take a stance that says, "Hey, I'm a busy woman running a multi-million dollar empire, and I haven't had a chance to hit the gym"? Sure, being overweight is detrimental to one's health, but how much of our lives should we invest in aspiring to look thinner? It's such a brain suck. We're smarter than that. Admittedly, Winfrey does say in the story that it's not about losing weight but regaining control of her life. Still, pictures (and cover lines) speak louder than the fine print.

The cover shows an image of Winfrey sporting a crop top and toned stomach to rival Britney Spears from the January 2005 cover, juxtaposed with a current shot. She has been reluctant to use full-body shots of herself on recent covers, only allowing headshots and poses that disguised her body.

The new issue will be complemented by a week-long Oprah Winfrey Show series beginning January 5 during which she'll take viewers through five days of advice on health, spirituality, money and relationships.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel
P.S. In the interest of disclosure and honesty, I have battled my fair share of body/mind/soul issues (and still do). Which is, in part, why I feel so impassioned about the representation of women's body image in the media. Diversity and fabulous, three-dimensional women whose lives are not controlled by calories are what we need to see more of in our magazines, people.