Feminism fail: Vagenda Magazine on More! Magazine

Today I unfollowed Vagenda Magazine after they tweeted in celebration of the fact More magazine has officially been suspended. They crowed at the fact that another brainless, preaching, make-women-feel-like-crap magazine had bitten the dust, so to speak. Being a journalist and someone who writes in health and beauty (which no doubt means I must fail at being a feminist, for how can one possibly want equality AND a good concealer?), I found this distasteful and stopped following their tweets straight away. 

I’ve looked back on their account and to give credit where it’s due, they handled the amass of criticism well – proof of a good social media manager who stands by their point but puts it across clearly and concisely. They even apologised. Cor. 

But what bugs me is that they’re supposed to be standing up for modern feminism and yet they are criticising women who work hard at what they do (I don’t know any More workers personally, but I know many who do) and publicly revelling in the fact they no longer have a job.

They did correct this and point out that it’s possible to be happy a mag has gone under yet sad at the job losses, but clearly they weren’t so sad or respectful about the latter that they could keep their tweets shut and not boast about the former. 

And the former is what is getting to me. They seem to think that women’s magazines are oppressive and telling women they’re fat, telling them to get on the scales and eat less and cut their hair more and wear these clothes, etc. What I find odd about that, and the fact that they’re f-e-m-i-n-i-s-t-s, is that they seem to assume we women have no mind of our own. We just swallow whatever we read. 

I’m not a huge fan of weekly mags myself; they tend to have too much celeb content and I couldn’t care two hoots whether Jennifer Aniston’s got a wrinkle or if Amanda Bynes has done something even more stupid than last week. Pointing out a spot on a celeb and circling it in big red marker and screaming OMG LOOK! THIS SLEB CAN’T EVEN LOOK AFTER HER SKIN! is not, to my mind, interesting. But that’s not the point; there’s an audience for it and why shouldn’t there be?

The point is, the majority of women think for themselves. Yes, really! Most of the women I know are smart, into health and fitness, keen to know more about nutrition, holding down a career in something they love, and generally more health conscious than, say, my parents’ generation who grew up reading the Daily Mail and thinking that red wine and red meat is wholeheartedly good for you. 

So, contrary to popular belief, we don’t pick up these magazines and then look in the mirror and cry at how chubby our thighs are. We read them and learn from them. Yes, some are far better than others; though the most expensive mags in the industry are pretty exclusionary in my view, so quality doesn’t always come with a higher price. I went into journalism because not only did I love writing, but I grew up reading mags that taught me a few of the things I needed to know growing up. I wanted to wear eyeliner, but how? I wanted to feel more confident, but how? I wanted to become a journalist, but how? 

All questions, whether you think they’re trivial or not, answered by writers for teenage girls like me who had crap glasses, bad skin and a slight complex about being so tall. I wanted to be a journalist as I got older because I can answer questions that perhaps I never quite got the answers to. I like to learn. I find that saying I’m a beauty journalist often gets sneered at, and yes, I know I’m not saving the world or writing about politics. But women are interested in this stuff – I should know, I’m one of them. And I’m not ashamed to admit I bloody love writing about makeup. So sue me. 

The web has made it even easier to read good content; I’m proud to work for a site that is well researched, chock full of experts and run by people who know what they’re talking about and will only talk about it if they deem it worthy of a mention. That freedom is how the journalism industry is evolving and perhaps why mags such as More end up closed, but either way it’s a sad day when a publication is cut. *side glance to Vagenda*

I consider myself a feminist (I consider anyone who thinks women are equal to men, full stop, feminist) and yet I write about health and beauty. Shock horror. It’s not putting women down to write about how to lose weight, because, newsflash: some women would like to lose weight. And that’s not because a magazine told them to, it’s because they’d quite like to be their healthy size ten, or look their best on their wedding day, or because actually, the doctor says they kind of need to. 

The media has a responsibility to treat men and women equally but whinging that they write about certain content is not the way to go. How about whinging when political writers bang on about what female MPs are wearing instead of what their views are? We don’t need so-called feminists like Vagenda protecting us from the big bad wolves of the mag industry; we can read one and still have our own opinions just like we can read the Daily Mail and know it’s a pile of twoddle. What we need is feminists who actually believe in equality, which is why the fact they retweeted this confirms they’re not someone I want to follow: “I agree with @VagendaMagazine. I find quite troubling the idea that to be a ‘real’ feminist, you have to support all women unquestionably.”

I think feminism should be about women being entitled to do what they want to do just as men are; about equality, pure and simple. I don’t see anyone criticising the men’s mags for constantly using muscular models and suggesting you go to the gym. I don’t see anyone pitying the poor male readers who must be so ashamed that their arms aren’t burly enough because a picture in a magazine is telling them that’s what Ryan Gosling looks like. How about you back off the women who write for a living (like you do, VM) and happen to write about health, beauty and body issues? Who are you to say they shouldn’t? Equality and respect shouldn’t be conditional. That kind of kills the point.

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