When I went into varsity, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do – I had some vague notion of writing or using words to make my money. I’d already given up on my dream of being an actress and committed to a career of fullstops and my sometimes-dubious spelling. I had no idea that when I left UCT with my three-year BA I’d end up (after a year earning some stripes elsewhere) at Media24, one of the biggest multinational media companies in the country. I never knew I’d work for The Man. Even worse, I worked in women’s (well, teen) magazines. Oh, the things I’ve been told about my career choice. Mostly from CompSci students. Mostly by men with their heads so far up their own asses I’m surprised they can still breathe. Mostly from people who I thought were friends.
All Women’s Magazines Hurt Women
This relates to my final, favourite insult. But I’ll start off with it anyway. There’s a lot to be said about the effects of mass media. There’s a lot to be said about the cult of celebrity, photoshop and the idolisation of the size zero model. But blaming everything that’s wrong with women’s perceptions of their own bodies on magazines isn’t just foolish, it’s wrong. I could write essays on this one. And I won’t. But if I had a Rand for every time I’ve been told this, well, I’d have enough to buy at least one Magnum.
You’re Not A Real Journalist
I started my career writing about artists, pop culture and music. I moved on to boys, study tips and fights with your friends. Now I write about wedding planning, cake, and how to find a caterer. I’m not saving lives. I’m not uncovering corruption. I’m not making a Big Difference. I’m not a “real” journalist but I still have to get my facts right, not plagiarise and think of what’s in the interest of my readers.
The All Time Best: You Are The Cancer That’s Destroying Society
It was at the ex-housemate’s birthday. He was a friend of her boyfriend. He asked me what I did, I said I was the deputy editor of one of the country’s biggest teen titles. He snarkily snapped backed that I was the cancer that was destroying society. I blithely agreed and left to talk to someone else.
I know a lot of women’s titles have a lot of growing and bettering to do – and a lot are starting to make those moves – but blaming the magazine industry for ALL of society’s woes and the issues and problems women face? No. Just no. Besides the fact I couldn’t work for a title that I felt harmed women, I worked on a title that did its best in every issue to tell young women that they were beautiful just as they were. That encouraged them to love themselves and take care of themselves. Were we perfect? No, we weren’t. But we were a team of young women who passionately believed in empowering other young women and telling them to appreciate the wonderful human beings they were.
Img source: no idea, the interwebs