Dear Glamour: I Love You But We Need to Talk

It’s no secret that Glamour is one of my favorite magazines. However, as I made my way through the July 2012 issue, I raised my eyebrows in confusion more than a few times, and found myself thinking: Glamour, it’s time for us to have a talk.

Chubby Babies, Chiseled Guys And One Confused Reader

Glamour Mag Why?

Since I read magazines from back to front, the “Summer of Love” spread was where I first found myself very confused. Everything about this spread from the “chubby baby” to “chiseled guy” screams, “What?!” and “Why?!” I truly do not understand the point of this shoot. Is it supposed to be about family? Whose baby is that? Why are clothes so important to this strange “family”? Why do we have to know that the model is also an actress? Who the heck is Cody Horn?

Sadly, only one of these questions are answered in this eight page spread: Horn is in film Magic Mike with Channing Tatum, who is convenience featured later (or earlier if you don’t read your magazines back to front) in the issue.

Julianne Hough is Interesting? I Think?

Julianne Hough in Glamour

I don’t expect high brow journalism from Glamour, but I was seriously befuddled by Willa Paskin’s piece on Julianne Hough, child performer turned dancer turned dancer turned actor (seriously, this is how her “four lives” are described). In effort to make Hough seem like more than Pretty Girl Who Worked Hard and Hit It Big, a mysterious quote from Hough is thrown into the interview,

“When I was little . . . some stuff happened [to someone close to me] . . . I guess what you could say that what happened to her should never happen to anybody. . . When I went off to London, stuff like that happened to me.”

Confused? Me too. I reread this section thinking, “Did I miss something here?” No, she really is just that vague. Better question: If Hough wasn’t willing to reveal whatever “stuff” happened to her, why include it in the interview? At the beginning of the spread, the mysterious quote is referenced in regards to her “triumphing over her past.” To me, this just seems like lazy interviewing and including something that seems salacious but in reality means nothing and helps no one.

Glamour Takes Two Pages to Appeal to Readers of Color

Halle Berry Revlon Ad

This layout falls about halfway through the magazine and seems to scream, “Glamour isn’t all about white ladies–look at this spread about bronzers and pretty Halle Berry!” And let’s talk about the Revlon Ad: The foundation the ad claims Berry is wearing is in the shade Caramel. Look closely at the foundation featured most prominently in the ad–it sure doesn’t look like Caramel to me.

At first I thought I was over-thinking the placement of piece clearly aimed at women of color next to an ad of Halle Berry. However, when I went through the entire magazine, I realized it was intentional. Consider this: Of the advertisements featuring only one female, 16 ads featured white women while only 2 featured women of color, one African American and an Asian woman.

 Am I the only one who finds the placement of these two pages odd?

Have your favorite magazines been rubbing you the wrong way lately? What’s been raising your eyebrows lately? Share your thoughts by commenting!

  • udo

    LOL!! I love this review. These are the kind of things I think about as I read through a magazine.

    • Courtney

      Seriously sometimes I’m just like, WTF, y’all!

      I also got your emails and will reply tomorrow! I’m so excited to share about my blogging experience :)!

  • Lauren

    AGREED. The way Glamour reported on “thing that happened” to Hough when she was a child is so strange. You never go halfway like that. You either get the story or you keep that entire section off the record.

    I’m surprised that when I searched “Hough” “Glamour” “childhood” the bulk of the results are about her crush on Daniel Radcliffe. Not a single one of the usual suspects have tried to uncover or even question what that mysterious quote is about.

    I’m all for her right to privacy … but if Glamour wanted to protect Hough it shouldn’t have printed a statement that implies so many things and leaves so much room for speculation.

    • Courtney

      Agreed Lauren! They should’ve never said anything at all if Hough wasn’t willing to open up about what actually happened. She’s definitely entitled to her privacy, but Glamour should’ve never stepped over the line of making a bigger deal of something that’s essentially nothing.

  • Frederick

    This is kinda review of this magazine. I love your post, thanks for sharing your thoughts about it.

  • Veshoevius

    Well you know what think of the quality of the journalism in fashion magazines and this appears to be a clear case in point!

    • Courtney

      Sometimes you wish they didn’t even try.

  • Jamillah

    Oh geeze, and this: “child performer turned dancer turned dancer turned actor” is precisely why I don’t read certain fashion magazine. Uhg! That is offensive to me as a reader personally because no integrity in the writing.

    And yes it’s a sad sad truth about minorities; we lack representation in mainstream mags across the board. Le sigh, I hope these things will change one day.

    • Courtney

      Ek! That way my own recounting of how they described her. They made it seem more dramatic, but when I stepped back and looked at it, it was just like she was a normal girl who got really lucky. They didn’t actually write that way! Just me, not Glamour!

      I hope they change, too!

  • Autie

    Excellent post! I don’t subscribe to Glamour, but I’ve subscribed to InStyle for the past two years. I’m to the point where I’m either cancelling my subscription or just not renewing (poor college student here, and I have two issues left!). The content is redundant, frivolous and unrealistic, their “Deals & Steals” page includes forty dollar foundation, and the entire magazine seems like one big attempt to paint the world pink and glittery. I’m just sick of it. Not to mention the ads lately – a Tom Ford one in particular – featuring two utterly naked people chucking water on each other. I have an eight-year-old sister! Do I really want her staring at butt-naked, rail thin models and thinking that’s beauty?

    • Courtney

      Thank you Autie!

      I think many magazines like InStyle and Glamour are in between a rock and a hard place because they are trying to appeal to so many age types that they just have way too much going on. For some people, $40 for a foundation may be cheap, but you and I both know that for most people it is not. I get frustrated with that too, because I think magazines bow to their advertisers, which is why most features are about Chanel or Dior instead of brand real women actually use like Revlon and ELF. Again, hard because magazines are aspiration and realistic.

      All this probably summarizes why I much prefer reading blogs!

  • javacia

    I recently let my subscription to Glamour expire. Your post, oddly enough, makes me want to go out and get the latest issue so I can weigh in on these subjects. Side note: I want to say that I really appreciate that your blog has both style and substance. No, we shouldn’t expect highbrow journalism from glossy magazines, but we should all look more critically at what we read. Thanks for that reminder.

    • Courtney

      Hey Javacia! Thanks for stopping by :)!

      The issue was meh. It wasn’t long enough, if you ask me. However, I really did love the essay contest winner. I literally laughed out loud as I was reading it, so if you do pick it up, definitely check out that feature.

      I’ve always believed in never just skimming through magazines. So much is in between the pages, and I wonder what message is ultimately being given to women.

  • Kimberlee

    Well I’m interested in Magic Mike 😉 hehe

    But yes glossy magazines typically ignore women of color or any minorities for that matter. It’s usually the same headlines, never find anything too ground breaking.

    I believe it was Seventeen or Teen Vogue where I teenage girl got over 100,000 signatures to petition them to stop using photoshop and the magazine said no. I thought that was a very bad PR move on their part. Someone who is a loyal reader of your magazine, wants to help make it better, got thousands of people involved and you’re going to shut the door in her face?

    I think unfortunately the only way to make a stand is to stop buying them. Perhaps the pressure from people turning to bloggers (or real women) will sway them but it’s definitely taking a long time.

    • Courtney

      Haha! I do not want to see Magic Mike, sadly!

      I believe the petition was to Seventeen and asked them to include 1 spread an issue that wasn’t photoshopped. I didn’t know they said, no but I think it’s a harbinger of things to come for the magazine industry.

      I think as more online magazines for teens (ie: Rookie Mag, one of my faves despite the fact that I am 25!) grow in popularity, there will be less and less need for young girls to turn to the glossies. Every time I read Rookie, I find myself asking, “Where was this when I was 13?!” I love that girls now have more options with content produced by real women they can relate to.

      I don’t think glossies are going anywhere soon–they’re just slowly dying off, but I do like that girls have options to where they turn to.

  • Laura Connell

    Family as fashion accessory – hmm interesting!

    • Courtney

      That’s a great point. I didn’t realize that at first because it just rubbed me the wrong way, but I didn’t necessarily realize why. The odd thing is–I don’t even think the people in this spread at supposed to be a family–they’re all just accessories to some sort of “fantasy,” as Glamour puts it.

  • joann, sidewalk chic

    I was incredibly confused by the Hough interview too — why include that bit of information if she’s not willing to share it? It was so vague and confusing, and just left my imagination to run wild on all the things that could have happened.

    I’m not really a fan of the new layout style they launched earlier this year. The front cover feels like it’s lacking information without some teasers to market their stories, and it’s hard to differentiate some of the inside pages from ads because the layout styles are pretty similar. Some of their beauty and celebrity features in the March and April issues looked like they borrowed Cosmo’s layout style (white-font headlines on bright backgrounds, “ripped” looking pages).

    • Courtney

      So true! ALso, they basically laid the bait for the next publication to come along and actually get the story from Hough.

      I seriously have no clue what the “something happened to me” could be referencing, though my best guess is sexual abuse of some sort. But, then again, literally no clue based on what she said!

      I usually like Glamour, but this is the first time in a few months that I truly sat down with the magazine and read through it. This issue reminded me of a cross between Lucky and Cosmo, however I do like the pieces written in the first person. I like when celebrities “write” articles (let’s be real here, they’re not really writing those pieces). I also literally laughed out loud at the winner of the essay contest. There’s some gems hidden between all the puzzling fluff.

  • Kara @ Bostonista

    I don’t read Glamour on a regular basis but their new look (I think it debuted with the issue a few months ago with Amanda Seyfried on the cover) is SO young. It seems like they are trying to appeal to tweens more than women. I subscribe to a lot (A LOT) of fashion magazines but Marie Claire is the only “women’s” magazine I subscribe to. I know a lot of people don’t see a difference but there is one! Marie Claire is definitely kicking Glamour’s butt right now, IMO.

    • Courtney

      That makes sense–come to think of it, it did change when that Seyfried cover. I especially hated the Lauren Conrad cover and was shocked to see Glamour would put a half naked woman on the cover. It just struck me as REALLY different and borderline unlikable, also unappealing to most twenty and thirtysomethings. I like LC and all, but did not want to see her half naked!

      I may have to switch over to Marie Claire.

  • kimmie

    What ‘Summer of Love” had to do with having a chubby baby and a chiseled man is something i dont think anyone will have an answer for. Im assuming they were trying to make it about a woman having it all but whoever wrote that subtext for the headline needs to not be allowed to do ANYTHING again lol.

    Hough is beautiful and is a great dancer…that’s about it. I think of a young Jen Anniston when I look at her but with less personality -and that’s saying a lot bc Anniston is extremely laid back in her written interviews. They should’ve just interviewed her about whatever movie she’s in, beauty and makeup and called it a day. Trying to make that article “deep” was a huge fail. Unless you’re going to talk about something in detail just don’t bring it up!

    The Revlon ad. As a woman of color, I’ve become use to not seeing that much diversity in mainstream mags so I pretty much gloss over it and search for tips and tricks that are universal. However, it does seem odd that the ad and bronzer article were placed so close together.

    • Courtney

      It was such a bizarre headline and subtitle! I was so confused by the whole spread. You’re right–whoever wrote that headline needs to be switch back to photo cropping or something that has nothing to do with words.

      I don’t know why they tried to show this other side of Hough. I’ve never really seen DWTS, but she seems talented from the parts I have seen. I don’t know why they tried to make her seem deep if they weren’t going to dig into the issue. Glamour isn’t Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair–their interviews aren’t deep, so I don’t know why they tried to get her to talk about whatever it was that she wouldn’t spit out.

      In fact, I don’t even care about what she didn’t say. I’m more annoyed that they included it at all.

      Kara, who commented after you, said it’s getting harder to tell the difference between Glamours ads and their actual articles. I think this page is a really good example of it. Everything about that spread rubbed me the wrong way!