Elle / Shmelle

Shame on you, Elle, you jackasses. Any halfwit can see that you peddle the same visual crap as every other fashion mag, but you used to be better than most at the writing. I noticed something in your writing (editing?) that I never noticed until recently and it’s disappointing. Not surprising, but disappointing.

When an issue arrived with Ashley Simpleton on the cover, it seemed time to move on to a new periodical, but your articles are usually quite compelling and you cover a wide range of topics. From women’s health issues to psychology to politics to serious career advice and personal stories of triumph and tragedy. There’s always something interesting to read, which is why I keep my subscription. The rest is bird cage liner, but the girth does make the book a little easier to hold.

The visual content is expected – images of super tall skinny girls in contorted poses wearing haute blah blah blah. It’s annoying but easily overlooked because it’s so ridiculous. At 5’4” with an Haute Navy wardrobe full of comfy t-shirts and cargo pants, I’ve no aspirations to look like the girls in your book. I’m also 45 years old and couldn’t care less about wedge heels and crop tops.

What’s not expected is to read an article about Carrie Brownstein (the smart & hilarious actress on Portlandia and former Sleater-Kinney guitarist), or a personal essay about coming of age and read not-so-subtle descriptions of size (or lack thereof) – the thinness of the subjects of the articles. Why is it relevant to describe Brownstein as “a wisp thin silhouette of a guitar-slinging icon?”

I suppose that might be important to the piece if, say, she got up on stage and couldn't support the weight of her guitar and tumbled off the stage into a “sweaty, corpulent groupie” who saved her from certain peril. You could have come up with a much better line than that, unless it was intended to promote wispy thinness, which could very well be the case.

Then in the article I read yesterday (the coming-of-age piece about a shy, adolescent girl [the author] who becomes friends with an outgoing, boisterous classmate) again, there’s reference to size. The author states, “…only later, as an adult, did I come to prefer my thin, elongated frame to her exaggerated curves.”

The entire piece was about behavior and relationships – the differences between the reserved girl and her wild, carefree friend – but size is mentioned more than a few times. It seems mostly relevant, helping to describe the difference between the “scrawny,” “prudish” author and her sexually-active, fairly well-developed friend, but that last reference, to preferring thinness and elongation to exaggerated curves, what’s up with that? How does that serve the piece?

Was the intent to let the reader know that only, as an adult, the author felt at peace in her own skin and no longer needed to compare herself to others, or that as a part-time auto mechanic, her thin, flat frame and long spindly arms are a huge advantage when working underneath an engine?

These are just the articles I’ve had time to read lately. Who knows how many more seemingly innocuous pieces about career planning or emerging retinol products also include not-so-veiled references to size – specifically the suggestion that waifish is the way to go.

As a somewhat curvy woman pretty-much at peace in my own skin, I can ignore the silly editorial photo spreads, but I can’t ignore this crap in the writing. That your editors aren’t changing these references shows that either it’s fully intentional and you want women to think that the preferred body type is wispy waif, or you’ve had way too much of your own kool-aid and can’t see it anymore.

Go ahead and sell your photos and ads full of what the hell ever, but please keep the writing clean. And please put Cindy Crawford on the cover again. Soon.