Mags: Who's body image ideals

Glossy Talk: Who's take on body image

So, generally I think what Nicky Briger and the Who magazine team pull together each week is a quality glossip magazine. All things considered, the reportage is less reliant on hearsay than other titles, less bitchy and the human interest element keeps it from being overly superficial.

But when I saw the cover of The Body Issue, on sale today, I wanted to throw it against a wall. While not nearly as grotesquely offensive as the National Enquirer's '50 Best and Worst Beach Bodies' cover, putting airbrushed Jodhi Meares and Jodi Gordon on the cover, albeit with a glowing Vanessa Amarosi and muscle-bound Tom Williams, to my mind, is not a great thing for women. It's irresponsible.

Meares in particular is problematic. Having given up her job running Tigerlily, she tells the magazine she now exercises for at least three hours a day: "I probably exercise for about three hours a day during the week, more on the weekend. What else are you going to do? Go to lunch? That's just sitting around, and I get bored with too much conversation. I'd prefer to be moving around."

Now, how Meares chooses to spend her days is not my business. When I was in the doldrums of eating disorder, I spent more than a few unproductive hours taming my anxiety beast with workouts and didn't particularly enjoy talking to anyone. But (alarm bells!) this is a lot of time to spend killing calories when you're a non-athlete and already very slim.

Unfortunately, this sort of obsessive exercising is so normalised now – by the likes of Madonna, Gwyneth, Jennifer Aniston, all those muscle-bound actresses in Valentine's Day and shows like The Biggest Loser – that we barely blink an eyelid when someone confesses to such a regime of body maintenance. But no one mentions the side-effects of what this does to your body – infertility, osteoporosis, repetitive stress injuries, etc. – let alone the stress it puts on your relationships and your inability to progress in other areas of your life.

Sometimes we sigh with relief knowing just how hard these people have to work out; but other times we feel peeved because, with them in the media spotlight representing "women", how are we ever to live up to these ideals when we have, you know, jobs, families, house work, jury duty, social engagements and other things to attend to? As Tina Fey put it so wittily to Vogue: "Maybe it just starts a shame cycle: I'm never going to look like that model, so…Chicken McNuggets it is!"

I'm not angry with Meares. I feel sorry for her. I can relate to her. But I am miffed that Who is putting her out there as someone for women to gaze at and aspire to – particularly ones in her age group (she is 39) – when her lifestyle and her body is clearly unattainable for most.

No, women aren't stupid enough to think that they HAVE to look like her. But let's not ignore the evidence, either: The magazine's own body image survey revealed that only 23% of women are happy with the way they look, most are "insecure" about their bodies and women are three times more likely to avoid sex because they feel fat. What part does Who play here?

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Girl Talk: Vogue, Tina Fey and Faking It

Girl Talk: Vogue, Tina Fey and Faking It

Tina Fey's Vogue cover has been looking up at me from my coffee table all week and, frankly, she's been making me queasy. The reason why is hard to articulate, because I love every fibre of Fey and she makes for lovely company. I just don't love her on the cover of Vogue...

For much the same reason that I couldn't happily reconcile seeing Ellen Page on the cover of Teen Vogue. The whole thing just feels like a forced friendship. Like when your mother encourages you to play with the girl next door but you have NOTHING IN COMMON, because she's into cheerleading, Britney Spears and shopping and you're on the debate team, play the piano and like to collect stamps in your spare time. Try as you might to fake the friendship, you are Vegemite and she is peanut butter – you just don't go together.

From the cover styling to the "this is awkward" nuances in the cover story penned by Jonathan Van Meter, both Vogue and Fey are trying really hard to play nice, but they're from different planets. Vogue graciously allows Fey to fly her geek flag, but I find myself unsettled by the magazine's almost condescending treatment of its cover girl.

There are the sub-heads – "Revenge of the Nerd", "Normal Girls", "Hand-Me-Downs", "Everything She Knows About Fashion" and "Mom Jeans" – and the picture of a nine-year-old Fey looking very tomboyish, which have the effect of making her a spectacle of fascination: like a room full of Bergdorf blondes looking down their noses as if to say, "How did such a plain girl become such a success?".

In her editor's letter, Wintour justifies her choice of cover subject by sandwiching Fey in style speak: "Our choice of Tina Fey might seem surprising to some, and yet in my view she is ideal. The way Fey interacts with her wardrobe, the way her thoughts about her character are reflected through her closet conundrums, is fascinating and familiar in equal measure. Although she tells Jonathan Van Meter that she is the celebrity today who is flying the flag for 'normal', there is nothing ordinary about her brilliance, her perceptiveness, or her beauty. Mario Testino and Tonne Goodman's portfolio of the star captures a woman who fully understands the power of style to elevate the everyday."

What's more, the whole fairytale element – the Prada
dress, the Gucci gown, the Dolce & Gabbana bodysuit and fishnet tights – of being made over like an Eliza Doolittle project, has the effect of reducing Fey to a cut-out Vogue prototype, rather than playing to her personality, which other magazines have been able to capture (see below 'Magazine Manifestations of Fey'). There's nothing witty or ironic about the pictures – they've almost sucked the life right out of her.

The profile emanates "Fey-ness" – there are more than a few self-deprecating quotes that amuse (on why spaghetti-strap dresses don't look good on her: "It looks like when you tie up a roast before you put it in the oven."). And four full pages of copy is nothing to be sniffed at. But even that is wedged between a style profile of Blake Lively (the girl most likely) and the "Military Issue" fashion editorial starring leggy Vogue models, a juxtaposition that reminds us just what an "aberration" she is... and, by association, we other "normal girls" are, too.

"Hypocrisy!", you say. "We should be celebrating the fact that Anna Wintour has pushed the boundaries here. Aren't you the one who's always banging on about the embarrassing surfeit of generic celebrities on glossy covers and the need for a broader range of role models? Will you EVER be happy? Can the glossies ever win?!"

Yes, Fey is a wonderful role model for women and it's brave of Vogue to depart from its usual course and allow her to say things which are at odds with Vogue's world view. She is a breath of fresh air in a superficial setting. But I don't really feel Vogue is comfortable with having Fey on its cover and I think she'd feel more at home in her "mom jeans", as fun as it is to play dress-ups and dutifully promote your new film (Date Night).

The whole thing just feels like a fakey, pretendy thing – a fleeting affair that seemed like a good idea at the time but was ultimately a betrayal of values on both sides. Women like Tina Fey should just BE. No nips, tucks, Photoshop, Prada or Vogue validation necessary. Because every time we fake it in the name of fitting in, we lose a little bit of ourselves. And God knows how hard it is to find yourself again.

In an era where "authenticity" is bandied about as the new buzz word, nothing is more disconcerting than seeing someone try to fit a mould they weren't made for. Self-acceptance is hard enough without seeing your role models morph into someone else's idea of perfection. Vogue can have its supermodels, society queens and skinny fashionistas: but, please, leave Tina Fey alone.

Magazine Manifestations of Tina Fey

Totally Fey: the American Express ad as seen in U.S. Vogue, November 2007

The fairy dust of life, which allows us to take flight, is just being true to the inner you.

See also: Through the Glossy Looking-Glass (Everyone Is Thin and Fabulous!)

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Mags: Secrets to Frankie's Success

(More) Secrets to Frankie's Success

This morning I referenced Melbourne-based fashion editor Rachel Wells' excellent piece on Frankie magazine's success for The Sunday Age replete with a lovely big picture of editor Jo Walker and added commentary bits by yours truly (see below).

I think Wells, whose pithy fashion columns expertly translate trends for the every-girl, really captured the essence of why Frankie is going great guns. But there's something else I want to draw your attention to. In addition to its strong reader relations, I would add that the attention to detail it also pays to how it presents itself to advertisers, journalists and bloggers is fundamentally important – all which translate into positive PR, market momentum, ad dollars, sales and new converts.

Last week, for example, after reading that my copy of Frankie was rain-sodden, the team promptly sent me a fresh, dry copy in the post, along with a media kit, postcards and a selection of badges. Obviously, I was delighted. This is the stuff of positive relationships (yes, I know relationships are give and take). Clearly, Sahil Merchant, CEO of magazine retailer mag nation has had the same experience. He's quoted in the media kit:

"Frankie is one of the very best magazines and one of our very best sellers at mag nation. It mobilises the voices of their fans to create a presence larger than the magazine. The magazine becomes almost a social lubricant, which elevates it beyond a mere collection of words and images."

Obviously, the ad team isn't going to elicit negative commentary for its sales pitch, making media kits fertile ground for positive endorsements. But paging through the kit – just like the magazine – it's hard not to get the warm-and-fuzzies. Presented on scrapbook/butcher's paper and filled with beautiful imagery from the magazine, as well as impressive statistics on psychographics, CPMs and such, it contains several quotes from supporters of the magazine – advertisers like Converse, retailers who've benefited from Frankie editorial and designers and musicians who've made appearances on its pages.

All these things add up to a super-positive brand experience that resonates through the web and beyond. Whether a web-business owner, freelancer, employee or magazine, I think we could all apply the same "branding" strategy to our presentation and relations: authenticity, consistency and something a bit unique.

To round out today's Frankie sycophancy special, shortly I'll be posting a guest review of the latest issue by a long-time Frankie fan-girl!

See also: Frankie and Julie are Sweethearts (see, Frankie is winning converts by the second!)

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Mags: What are Aussies reading?

Metrosexual males, healthy ladies, cooking enthusiasts, domestic travellers and the politically partial – these are the people who helped keep the magazine industry afloat in 2009 as the tabloid weeklies and homemaker categories lost ground, according to the latest Roy Morgan Readership Survey.

The biggest readership gainer was News Magazines' GQ, which posted a massive, ego-boosting 133% increase, while Pacific Magazines' Women's Health (up 28.4%) continued its mountain-climbing momentum, surpassing lifestyle glossy Cleo for the first time in readership numbers.

Surprisingly, three independently published titles – Australian Traveller (up 53.1%), The Monthly (up 45.2%) and Recipes+ (up 31.9%) – left the big publishers in their wake, defying the GFC to increase their followings with impressive results. All these titles, bar GQ, which isn't audited (shame, as it would have made for a more convincing comparison), also posted circulation gains for the same period.

Added to positive circulation results for Frankie and RUSSH, you've got to wonder if, despite their overall lower sales numbers, if the independents' market defiance has been boosted by stronger reader relationships. They may not have the marketing budgets of ACP, Pacific or News, but these niche titles are clearly not as disposable to their loyal readers when times get tough – in fact, they've just become more appealing than their mass-market counterparts. Aussies still love an underdog.


Famous magazine continues to impress in the glossip category, closing the gap on the ailing NW to just 44,000 readers. Editor Gereurd Roberts said: "Famous has cemented its position as the magazine for the celebrity obsessed, image conscious young woman. On the back of our recent circulation increase, the readership increase re-affirms our position as the hottest magazine in the celebrity weekly market." The magazine's competitive cover price, social media strategy, cover design and strong editorial direction are clearly having the desired results.


Another win for Pacific Magazines, That's Life ("the magazine with heart") is the number-one selling real-life mag with 56% of the market's readership. With a circulation of 283,759, clearly there's a lot of sharing going on amongst the ladies.


Reflecting its circulation gain, Harper's Bazaar's readership results might be a positive reflection on editor Edwina McCann's direction (she jumped on board in June 2009, with the December issue her first fully-fledged edition), but those attention-grabbing covermounts probably haven't hurt. Together with InStyle, it defined the glossy market trend to post an impressive gain.


Teen readership results are reflective of circulation, with gaps between Dolly and Girlfriend sitting around 40,000. This is relatively good news for Girlfriend considering Dolly's aggressive covermounting strategy.


A big drop in readership for Blitz Publications' Women's Health and Fitness was the unfortunate result of Pacific Magazines' Women's Health's superstar results (attributable to brand presence across Pacific-affiliated media and events, a clever social networking strategy and strong editorial vision). Perhaps it needs a name change: readers might just be confused?


The nation's food obsession (concurrent to our obesity problem?) continued to drive results in the foodie category, with Recipes+ the stand-out gainer, Delicious attracting readers with its impressive contributor list and its News Magazines stablemate Super Food Ideas continuing to benefit from its Woolworths association (times may have been tough, but Aussies still had to food shop and, um, eat).


They may have been food shopping, but Aussies weren't necessarily swapping tips on homemaking. The category took a dip, though Pacific's behemoth Better Homes and Gardens continued its domination with a 4.3% rise, while ACP's Real Living (up 9.6%) and News Magazines' Vogue Living (up 8.2%) shared the love.

The conspicuous fall in Burke's Backyard's numbers would be sweet news for Donna Hay (whose eponymous magazine posted a gain of 7.4%) given their public parsnip joust last August – is this a case of publishing karma? Aussies love a sledging match but arguing over the humble parsnip as the GFC affected families at hip-pocket level was just embarrassing. And, frankly, un-Australian.

GWAS Note: If you spot any discrepancies in the above data, please leave a friendly comment and I shall amend ASAP. Merci!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Mags: State of the (mag)nation - December 2009 Audit

Valentine's Day has come early for some glossy titles. The stars of the most recent Audit Bureau of Circulations audit include Morrison Media's Frankie (+31.6%), ACP's Dolly (+17.9%) and Harper's BAZAAR (15.6%) and Pacific Magazines' Famous (+15.3%), which all experienced robust sales increases in the year to December 2009. Break out the champagne and Cadbury Roses!

Overall sales of audited Aussie mags were down 3% last year, compared to 2008, thanks in part to consumers turning off the weeklies (the weekly category fell 3.5%) and mums refusing to buy their tweens magazines (tween sales dipped 18%).

But publishers have been quick to put Cupid's spin on the results: consumers spent more than $1 billion on magazines in 2009, says ACP, which maintained a 51.7% share of the Aussie mag market (albeit representing a fall of 2.6%: Pacific and News Magazines now own 29.2% and 12.3% of the market respectively).

Pacific Magazines' Nick Chan said, "We've outperformed the market, delivered stand-out results for key titles and posted strategically significant wins. Overall our portfolio is strong, our brands are clearly differentiated and the economic outlook is more encouraging than it has been for sometime."

News Magazines has gone all-out to celebrate the circulation success of Vogue with a video, despite ACP Magazines' trumpeting of Harper's BAZAAR's comeback: "Harper’s Bazaar outsold Vogue to claim the #1 Prestige Fashion mantle during a period that includes Vogue’s highly publicised and promoted September/50th Anniversary issue." Meow!

But it's the little teams at Australian Healthy Food Guide (+18.6%) and Frankie we should be cheering on loudest: they prove that even without fancy covermounts, aggressive marketing campaigns and cross-media partnerships, readers will embrace quality titles.
Earnest but true.


GWAS Note: If you spot any discrepancies in the above data, please leave a friendly comment and I shall amend ASAP. Merci!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

GWAS: The Clippings Post

Favourite clippings lovingly gleaned from newspapers, supplements, local press and magazines...

I'm always impressed with the layout of "Sunday Best", a front-of-book page in The Sunday Telegraph supplement Sunday, and Donna Reis' small piece on op-shopping (accompanied by illustration by Henry Obasi) was an extra treat (I love altruism mixed with a shopping activity).

Raymond Gill's piece on the relocation of The Age headquarters from Lonsdale Street to "a swanky new home on the corner of Collins and Spencer Streets": "It's all very Michael Douglas movie now with acreage of open plan glamour, veering more towards Devil Wears Prada than All The President's Men," he writes. An insightful, humorous and metaphorical tribute to "stained desks...with dead newsprint" replaced with "upright desks so sparse and pristine that at special moments you can almost imagine what it must be like to be Sandra Sully reading the late night news on Ten".

To read the clip, click on the pic and drag to your desktop.

Send your clipping into GWAS today and you just might score a copy of So Frenchy So Chic (there are three CDs up for grabs!) to listen to as you thumb through newsprint and glossy pages in search of something special.

How to contribute to The Clippings Post:
1. Scan in your clipping (single page is preferable – no 6000-word essays from The Monthly: we don't want to fall asleep).
2. Email clipping in JPG or PDF format to
3. Provide credits (publication, date, author/photographer/illustrator/stylist).
4. Explain why you enjoyed the column/story/page layout/illustration/image/styling.
5. Supply mailing address so you can be duly rewarded with a plump new book for your bedside table.
6. Stay tuned to see if your clipping made the cut.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

CHICTIONARY by Clare Press

(I speak, you speak, we all speak...FASHION)

F’row Word of the Fortnight

Gaga. (gar-gar) adl. slg. Raving fashion lunatic cum wearable art fan inspired by the outlandish, talking point getups of popular musician Lady GaGa.

The lady in question is really a nice Italian-American kid called Stef, and back when she was a piano-playing student at N.Y.U. she used to wear recognisable jeans and dresses just like her peers.

Everything changed though when she signed a record deal and her single, "Eh, Eh", became a hit - despite sounding like Bulgaria’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest for 1994. Perhaps it was the way Stef tied her Donatella locks into a Minnie Mouse bow? Who knows?

But before you could say platform moon boot, GaGa-the-model was born, leaving drag queens and Alexander McQueen to dream of armadillos. For every designer who refused to dress the ballsy singer (hello, Canadian knitwear king Mark Fast) there were six desperate to call her muse.

Whether she’s frocking up in Louis Vuitton ruffles to play a witch for US Vogue’s December Arts Issue, or slapping on the red glitter for a thoroughly inappropriate audience with the Queen, the style groupies are going gaga for GaGa. But is Gaga an insult or a Chictionary term of endearment? You decide.

In conversation. Hints and tips for daily use:

“Cripes, my flatmate’s gone Gaga. Is that a colander or a hat? And I wondered where my laundry basket went! She’s wearing it as a hoop skirt.”

CHICTIONARY CREDENTIALS: In case you didn't know (where have you been?), Clare Press is a former fashion director for Vogue Australia and has her own fashion label, the wonderful vintagey Mrs. Press. Pretty and witty, she's also a really lovely lady, so I'm delighted that she'll be gracing this here blog on occasion to impart some words of sartorial wisdom. Visit her frolicking blog here.

Pic credit: Starpulse

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Girl Talk: Through the glossy looking glass

Girl Talk: Through the glossy looking glass (everyone is impossibly thin and fabulous!)

While we're still getting our heads around the spring/summer collections celebrated in the glossies on stands now (produced three months ago), the fash pack has its attention focused on New York for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week's fall collections (see Clare Press' "Chictionary" explanation of the crazy fashion cycle... no wonder caffeine and dark glasses are a f'row necessity).

In light of Fashion Week, the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers America) held a discussion about body image entitled "The Beauty of Health: Resizing the Sample Size" (as reported by Sally Holmes for The Cut). On the panel were casting agent James Scully, model Doutzen Kroes and designer Zac Posen.

Scully talked of the unhealthy practises used by models wanting to stay in the business: a business that currently demands them to be skinny. Very skinny. Like Vogue Australia covergirl and current catwalk favourite Abbey Lee Kershaw, 22, who has lost a lot of weight since I cast her in a beauty shoot in 2006.

Kershaw talked to Today Tonight this week (see the clip at Frockwriter) about what it takes to stay at the top of the fashion model game: "An elite performer is always put under some sort of extreme pressure that the rest of society can argue and not quite understand."

It's this idea, that the fashion world is quite separate from the rest of society, ensconced in a glossy bubble where everyone is impossibly thin, chic and fabulous, and where different rules apply, that prompted Harper's BAZAAR Australia editor Edwina McCann to explain in her March editor's letter:

"There's always debate about the role the fashion industry plays in shaping young women's minds and, most importantly, their opinions of themselves. Mostly, the judgments are negative, with fashion image makers and creators blamed for, well, just about everything. I don't want to make light of this subject, especially with regard to body image, but it strikes me how foreign this perception of fashion in the media is, for me anyway. It's just not the way I see my world... When it comes to fashion I find it impossible to remove my lovely (transparent Prada) rose-tinted glasses. From where I am sitting, I see plenty to admire."*

In my recent piece for Body + Soul, The Body Image Trap, I alluded to the concept of glossy conditioning: i.e. how editors filter the images they feature in their magazines through the accepted aesthetic Zeitgeist. If the current body image trend is towards fit and healthy supermodels, as it was in the '90s, that is what they'll feature; if it is skeletal models, that is what they'll feature. Presumably, if Karl Lagerfeld decided to use only size 10 models in his next RTW show (ha!), the glossies would follow (in Chanel) suit.

Zac Posen said of the trend towards using girls of a sub-zero physique: "I think we created a droid-like mold and … fashion editors or stylists or now even buyers are trained to look at that and say I can’t see continuity unless I see the same droid-like skeleton on the runway." It's no coincidence that the fashion folk you see in pictures on sites like Jak & Jil are also very thin.

Fashion magazines are not interested in normal or average: they are about aspiration, whether it's achieving your first Prada purse purchase or the figure of a fourteen-year-old Estonian model (how that got to be "aspirational" in the first place is a whole other post). They are "fantasy", "art", "escapism", "not real". And if you can't appreciate that, don't buy them... or at least stop bitching about them.

But, the thing is, like it or not, they have influence. In the absence of faith, and want for inclusion, many women worship at the altar of fashion and live by the Vogue bible, where skinny is equated with power and success and the path to contentment looks a lot like the Champs Elysées. If Katie Grand or Anna Wintour or Kate Moss or Miuccia Prada make a statement, it echoes. Because, rightly or wrongly, society has deemed that they are special people with special trend-setting powers.

Prolific pop-sociologist Rachel Hills recently asked on her blog, if fashion, "specifically the kind of fashion you come across in women’s magazines, the kind of fashion embodied by edgy ‘It’ girls", is just for skinny girls. It would seem so. This unfortunate "us" versus "them" dichotomy (eloquently described by Lisa Hilton as "Bambi-limbed aspirations of the catwalk and our own wretched, cellulite-smothered carcasses") in the world of glossy fashion publishing makes for a lot of bitterness amongst women.

Like the perfect "Plastics" group of your high-school year, fashion magazines are exclusive and exclusionary: the domain of the exceptionally pretty and well dressed and wealthy. Not everyone belongs. And if you do manage to enter the fashion world on the basis of your creative talent, you will be encouraged to transform your physical self into a slimmer version (see: Rodarte sisters, Lily Allen, Karl Lagerfeld...) to maintain your membership. Call it fat fascism. And once you have tasted the validation that weight-loss can bring you, or start looking at the world through the glossy looking glass, you will become an evangelist yourself.

This thinner-is-better mentality leads to critiques of "round" celebrities, like that now-infamous New York Times blog written by Andy Port (and critiqued here by Hurricane Vanessa), and the insinuation that the beautiful AND busty Christina Hendricks is too big for fashion (clearly, ridiculous - but the glossy looking glass has a tendency to warp your thinking). It also leads to women going on soul-sucking diets that rob them of enjoyment and a general and pervasive discontentment. Because, as the Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson once said, you can never be too rich or too thin – a motto fashion magazines have taken on with gusto.

Of course, richness and thinness, as we all know, is not equated with happiness or contentment, which seems to allude the fashion world at large (hence, let's quickly move onto the next season so we don't have to stop too long to think about it). Stories of female discontent pervade the fashion glossies, just as they consume Lily Allen's social media updates. When will this vicious cycle stop? Perhaps when someone in the upper echelons of the fashion tribe comes to their senses.

"There's ideals that are so ingrained in our culture," said Posen. "Kate Moss was young and cute and hot, and underaged and modeling, and great. And that created a sensation. And that's going to be ingrained in our culture for a long time. So it is gonna be something there that people in fashion are going to be drawn to."

Kate Holden recently wrote of her conversion to the yoga set for The Age, concluding, "If only appearing fantastic weren't based on such a fantasy." Ah, fantasy – by definition "an imagined or conjured up sequence fulfilling a psychological need". At what point does fantasy become dangerous? Like video games that send gun-toting teenagers into schools, put a fashion mag in the hands of an impressionable young lady with a predisposition for eating disorder, perfectionism and/or low self-esteem and watch her mind become distorted. Hello, didn't Katie Grand have anorexia? It's no secret glossy over-exposure helped kick things along for me.

Helpfully, Doutzen Kroes – a top model (who ironically looks like Barbie) with a refreshing point of view (and a bottom) – added to the CFDA discussion: "When you don’t eat, you get grumpy, you don’t feel good. So how can you have joy in what you’re doing? And I have that joy and I think that’s what clients see and that’s why I work for two huge global brands. They like working with me, and it’s because I’m eating! There are naturally skinny girls, but not all of them and I’m not one of them."

Self-acceptance, joy and success? From where I'm sitting, that's something to admire. That's what special people are made of.

"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16: 7

*To be fair to McCann, she lists covergirl Kate Hudson as a "confident woman having fun with fashion", Isabel Lucas as "a young, passionate woman on a mission to save Australia's Coral Sea", Scarlett Johansson as "determined to use her fame to improve Third World HIV medical care" and creative Australians working in fashion, including US Harper's BAZAAR's Laura Brown, fashion director Jillian Davison and stylist/designer Michelle Jank. Still, it's a small fashion pool.

Pic credit: (Karl, Lily, Kate)

See also: "I probably fit the sample size once – when I was 11" @

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Glossy Talk: The iPad poll (with soapbox prelude)

The hot water-cooler topic this week, at least for those of us immersed in media, is the impact of the iPad on publishing (unless you work on Woman's Day, in which case it's Glenn McGrath's new girlfriend). And now Google has gone and rained on Apple's parade by releasing plans for a rival tablet computer, it's clear that Big Business has a vested interest in ensuring we are all excited and educated about this digital device.

The iPad promises to revolutionise our daily lives, just as the iPod allowed us to tune out
real-world noises (turned up loudly enough, everyone can enjoy your playlist!), the mobile phone made us available 24/7 (text at the dinner table, in bed, from the bath!) and the PlayStation made our kids obese and socially inept. Whee! What's not to be excited about?! Now, instead of hauling yourself to a library or book store (where there are people – ew, annoying!), you can upload books to your virtual bookshelf to read at the hairdresser, or scroll through headlines from The New York Times as your friendly barista froths up your milk, or read a blog as your bus goes over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Are we getting the gist?

Now, I love a new gadget, and I can totally see how the iPad might make the paper-munching world more environmentally friendly, but as a girl who's chained to her MacBook for the better part of her day, my main bugbear with the iPad is the further threat it poses to real social interaction: because we need another distraction like a hole in the Ozone layer.

As a blogger who makes a buck from this site, this rationale is like looking a gift horse in the mouth. But the idea of yet another device that sucks our attention away from real people (with skin on) irks me. Relationships with digital devices are taking up more and more of our time: for what benefit? When was the last time you had a real D&M with a friend, colleague, your mum, your partner?

I have been in a MacBook coma before, and am only now learning to ween myself off it (no blogging or emails on weekends so far). The iPad, with its compactness and portability and shininess and newness, is a major temptation. If you're the type of person who can maintain a healthy balance between online and offline interaction, good for you; go buy one! If you tend to verge on the extreme and/or have an addictive personality, like moi, I might suggest you think twice before handing Steve Jobs your cash.

As I considered buying one myself, and read the responses from a glossy poll I took on the subject earlier in the week (below), I was reminded of a three-hour train trip I recently took, during which time I struck up a conversation with a stranger, wrote notes from what I observed, paged through a book and contemplated life. It was blissful. Had my head been fixed on an iPad, I would have missed out.

In response to the question, "What is the biggest drain on happiness?", Gretchen Ruben, author of The Happiness Project, recently told U.S. Glamour magazine: "Someone I know recently said, 'The internet is both my lifeline and the plastic bag over my head.' If you read celeb gossip for an hour, that's an hour you could have spent with a friend." As Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross once sang, the best things in life are free.

The iPod Poll: glossy publishing panacea or pain in the butt? GWAS asks the glossy bunch (and, um, herself)...

"I'm possibly being naïve, but I don't think it's either. We are a long way from a seamless migration to digital for magazines and even if and when we do reach that point, you will still need magazine experts, journalists, photographers etc who are passionate about producing content for magazines, whatever form they happen to take. I think it's exciting to have more and more ways of experiencing the magazines, newspapers, books, blogs, whatever. Bring it on!" Jo Elvin, editor, UK Glamour

"Mags have always been about a marriage of great visuals and content, so the iPad might renew their competitive edge in an era in which savvy readers are increasingly consuming their information digitally. The iPad isn’t going to change the fact that mags are facing far more competition for eyeballs than they used to, though, so they’re going to have to be able to outplay the rush of new lifestyle, beauty and other niche sites if they want to prosper." Rachel Hills, freelance writer/blogger/digital editor

"Apple’s iPad is a nod to the importance of printed publications in the lives of influential, cashed-up, early adopters globally. Every morning one of my first ports of call is The website satisfies my news appetite, but when in New York I choose the newsprint version, perhaps out of habit. I’m 40+, and therefore wasn’t born, or even schooled, with a computer. The iPad will attempt to bridge the divide for my generation. Will it prevent me from actually purchasing, flicking through and breathing in the scent of the printed pages of American Vogue? No. But I know that I’ll be lining up to buy one as soon as it’s available here, providing I can purchase and download the list of books I’ve been meaning to read and the international magazines and newspapers that I would like to be able to read without delay. If embraced smartly by publishers, the iPad could prove to be an import new revenue stream." Marina Go, publisher, Independent Digital Media

"The iPad certainly offers mag publishers a way to claim back ownership of digital content, which has been given away so freely online without the return of huge financial benefits that banner advertising once promised. But the trick will be for publishers to package up e-magazines in such a way that readers will be happy to subscribe to them (via iMagazines, surely), when there is still so much free online content to be had. E-mags will have to be so visually stimulating you’ll want to pay for the experience." Katrina Lawrence, freelance writer and (former) editor

"To use a crude analogy, the iPad is the pantyliner of the tech world: a sort of stop-gap between the fully functional notebook and portable iPhone, it doesn't yet present itself as an essential item that will change your life – particularly if you are a heavy magazine consumer or blogger/producer of online content, like moi, and don't spend a lot of time commuting. However, if the product does prove to be popular amongst the general public, I can see a plethora of new, independent e-magazines entering the market, which will pose a threat to traditional magazines' ad budgets and possibly overwhelm readers with choice (in which case, they'll revert to trusted mastheads). It's also, obviously, a great thing for bloggers who might find new audiences to access, but will have to adapt content and layouts to suit the screen. Magazine publishers should be quick to find away to make the iPad platform work for them, as GQ and Vanity Fair are doing in the U.S, though Australian publishers have traditionally waited for others to test the waters before investing too heavily in new technology." Moi

Read more on the iPad (and e-readers) here:

Analysis: The iPad's Many Challenges @ Min
Apple's iPad: A Question for the Magazine Industry, Not an Answer @ Folio
9 Things You Need To Know Before Buying a Kindle @ Mamamia

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel