Archive for August 16th, 2009

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Today’s Moron: Self Magazine

August 16, 2009

You may have heard about this by now:

Self Magazine, some kind of women’s health publication, interviewed American Idol winner/superstar singer Kelly Clarkson for its September issue, which it’s calling its Total Body Confidence issue. Clarkson landed on the cover, in a shimmery purple slip top, smiling, looking pretty.

Clarkson, who I think always looks pretty, talked to the magazine about her weight gain, weight loss, fluctuations in how she looks. And she said she’s fine with that. Did you see her at the MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto a couple of months ago? You would never call her “waiflike.” But she struts and rocks like a seasoned music vet, which I guess she is, even though she’s 27.

Did I mention she looked damned fine on that MuchMusic show? I don’t know her music at all, and she’s actually just always hovered on the edge of my radar, but I remember thinking she looked like a firecracker.

Anyway, after she told Self all about how she was comfortable in her own skin, even if other people might consider her heavy, the magazine promoted those inspiring comments,which could help a whole generation of young women with their self-esteem. And then, as magazines do, Self airbrushed the crap out of Clarkson’s cover picture, making her look like every other skinny cover girl out there.

This makes no sense to me. Wait, let me tell you about things from a guy’s perspective: I like women. I like the way they look, and I am not ashamed of that. I have liked and loved women of all shapes and sizes, all types. There’s beauty in all of them, and I like looking at them. So I’ve never liked how these magazines PhotoShop their cover models — and they’re so crappy at PhotoShop you’d think I did it — to all look the same. We need variety. We need change. We don’t need a rack of magazines where, for example, Oprah, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston and those women with eight children all have the same body type. It just doesn’t work.

Self’s explanation is pretty lame, something about digitally manipulating the picture in order to “capture Clarkson’s confidence.” Bullshit. What that image captures is their idea of a feminine ideal, one that runs counter to the great message Clarkson has for readers inside. Changing the photo sends the wrong message, and blows open any pretense that Self wanted to promote Total Body Confidnce.

If Self magazine wants to put this right, we should see a few real women on their next cover. Gee, can you tell I was raised by women?

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Nonsense Indeed

August 16, 2009

I have a soft spot for nonsense poetry. This stems from a book I was given as a child: Edward Lear’s Nonsense Books. This was a small bound hardcover, a collection of long-form poems and quick limericks, issued in the style of the old Hardy Boys and Tom Swift and Nancy Drew book I liked, which may have prompted someone — I forget who — to give it to me.

If you don’t know Lear’s works, check some of them out here.

That book vanished along with a lot of my other prized possessions, somewhere between the crash, the shipwreck and the fire. So I was quite happy and surprised last year when I was given a box of kids’ books, and in it was … the same Edward Lear edition. I set about to read the bizarre limericks to my children, and learned quickly that while they share my sense of humour in many ways, they don’t quite get things like this:

There was an Old Person whose habits,
Induced him to feed upon rabbits;
When he’d eaten eighteen,
He turned perfectly green,
Upon which he relinquished those habits.

See, I think that’s a gem. The kids just rolled their eyes. And don’t even get me started on how I tried to introduce them to the concept of the Yongy-Bongy-Bo.

A couple of weeks ago, I was given another box of old books (among many other things). Among them was a small, slim book of nonsense poetry, this one from the 1950s. That’s the cover up top. Pleased, I decided to try the book out on the kids. I didn’t get far, because I opened it to this page:

Now, the first three are just bad poetry, tedious and dull, nowhere near Lear’s level of wit. The second one is also a tad sexist (but we covered this yesterday, so you know how I feel about politically correct revisionism.)

The fourth poem, though, the one with the illustration, stopped me cold. It seems to advocate date rape, with accompanying art that is just vague enough to spark my WTF alert. I flipped through the rest of the book and realized that even within the literary genre called “nonsense,” there is nonsense. I’m all for explorations of shitty attitudes people used to have, but not to the point that it makes me look away. I shouldn’t have to look away from what purports to be a kids’ book.

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