The following press release just landed on The Punch’s desk. We have decided to publish it in full.
Ja, guten tag and wilkommen to a sneak peek of ze exschiting new Auschtralian media landschcapen.
As you Auschtralians may know, ve here at ze Deutsche media group Bauer have purchased your magazine company ACP because ze private equity firm zat previously owned ACP prefers to lose money on ze markets.
Zis acquisition means a big shake-up. One of ze first changes you vill notice will be in Ze Logies, your glamorous television zeremonie, vich vill now be run with precision like never before. Ve are even considering rewarding zose personalities who actually possess ze talent, ja?
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It was different back in year seven when none of us really read magazines like Cleo or Cosmopolitan. The girls in my year at my all-girls college were just like me: we didn’t wear makeup, we didn’t obsess over clothes, and we didn’t judge others based on appearance so much.
Most of us were just disappointed that there was no playground or school oval we could access at lunchtime. It was a year of big transitions, certainly, but it was also the year that I would miss the most during the remainder of my time at high school.
All too soon we became addicted to magazines like Cleo and Cosmopolitan.
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As the debate around the best way to tackle negative body image continues to simmer in Australia, it’s worth noting that a major new cross-party parliamentary report in Britain has recommended that all primary and secondary school kids take part in compulsory body image and self-esteem lessons.
Is that what we need in Australia to tackle the scourge of negative body image among children and adolescents?
There’s no question that all young Australians would benefit from engaging in some level of education and formal discussion around body image. But how do we make it meaningful? What role for parents?
According to the Mission Australia Youth Survey released in September last year, body image ranks in the top three issues of concern for young Australians.
Research shows 90% of 12-17 year old girls and 68% of 12 – 17 year old boys have been on a diet of some type, and that bulimia and anorexia are among the top ten causes of burden of disease and injury in young women in Australia.
So in announcing The Health Initiative this week, Vogue’s editors have shown not just that they understand the powerful influence their magazines and the wider fashion industry wields over the public’s ideas about what a normal body looks like, but also that they are prepared to show leadership and a degree of corporate social responsibility in their industry.
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Next week New Idea will feature a half-naked George Calombaris on the cover. “I want to be a role model for all the short and stocky men out there,” he says. Meanwhile, Hugh Jackman reveals all on the cover of the Australian Women’s Weekly about how to stay fabulous in your 40s.
“I’m doing it for all the insecure men out there,” he grunts between his 112th and 113th rep. “You too can look like this!” Of course, this is all happening in a parallel universe. Generally, men don’t feel the need to take off their clothes for the cover of a magazine. So why do some women?
This wasn’t what the suffragettes had in mind when they fought for women’s emancipation all those years ago. Emmeline Pankhurst, speaking at the Women’s Franchise League in 1889 didn’t say: “One day, women will be able to remove their clothes in public and be judged on how hard they work out at the gym. What a glorious day that will be!” Let’s start with Deborah Hutton’s cover shot.
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That’s it. I am done with fashion magazines. Officially. I am never buying one, or reading one … or even nonchalantly flicking through the pages of one in my dentist’s office again. Ever. Again.
Since my teens I have bought women’s fashion magazines off and on. The frequency dropped off as I got older but I would still occasionally buy one on impulse, sucked in by the glossy pages, the surreal photo of that actress I like on the cover and the promise of a few hours of mindless engagement with fashion, celebrity and perhaps even a decent article or two.
However, every time, from the first page to the back cover, I would travel a well-worn path through the six stages of fashion magazine consumption:
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“No fat chicks” is not just a Homer Simpson-esque T-shirt slogan. It’s also the bottom line of the fashion industry. And when I use the word “bottom” here, I’m not referring to a voluptuously padded Venus of Willendorf derriere but one of those pointy Paris Hilton numbers that look like they could deliver a nasty needle-stick injury.
Cast an eye over shots from the big 2011 couture shows and you’ll see scores of emaciated young women limping down the runways with flesh-less knees, stringy necks and rib cages that make ET the extraterrestrial look like a fatty boomsticks.
These human coat hangers are held up as exemplars of feminine beauty yet are eerily reminiscent of Sidney Nolan’s infamous photos of dead-but-alive-looking cow and horse carcasses from drought-stricken Queensland during the 1950s.
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The drinks went down easy. A little too easy for a wet Monday night. Alpha magazine was no more, the pin pulled in an 11 am meeting with management, and past and present staff were out drowning their sorrows. Outside, the rain poured down, as though in commiseration.
In its heyday, Alpha was the biggest-selling men’s magazine in Australian publishing history. Its demise says much about the current industry focus on electronic publishing. But it says more about how incredibly tough it is, and always has been, to sell magazines to men in Australia.
Men’s magazines are a tough game. The toughest. While women across all demographic groups have an automatic reflex to purchase mags both quality and trashy, men have no such compulsion. It’s like our hormonal cycle, or lack of it compared to women. The impulse is just not there.
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Warning: this has nothing to do with politics. We thought we’d see how the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader would scrub up under a digital makeover of the kind you might find in a high-fashion glossy magazine. They have each had a bit of a facelift, lip and hairline enhancements and skin tone improvements from a professional image retoucher. Here’s Abbott’s dramatic transformation:
Notice the ears got a little tuck? And here’s the Prime Minister:
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The other day at dinner, my friends and I were discussing the Ten Commandments. It’s party, party, party when you roll with my posse.
My friend George claimed that God originally made Eleven Commandments, but that one of the tablets was smashed so only ten were left (the actual Bible story is that there were two lots of Commandments; Moses smashed the first batch in anger and then a second series were produced). Whatever the facts, George’s story excited me enormously.
“I’ve got a great idea for a movie!” I cried. “The Eleventh Commandment! What if it wasn’t really smashed and there was a race to find it, like secret treasure?”
Talk about a grand marketing plan!
Last weekend, Love magazine, run by former Pop! Magazine Editor (and fashion industry icon) Katie Grand, started releasing their Issue #3 covers. The nude shots of Lara Stone, Kristen McMenamy, Daria Werbowy and Jeneil Williams were let loose on the internet, and didn’t the bloggers have a field day.
I blogged about it. I got emails from friends to blog about it. I saw it on at least three other websites all marvelling over how we were getting to see these girls practically in their birthday suits. Fashion blogging land was in an excitable hoo hah. Naked supermodel? You’ve got to be kidding me! I’ve never seen that before.
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UPDATE 2pm: Mia Freedman, the chair of the committee put together by Kate Ellis to look at body image in the media, has just responded to Jackie Frank’s comments in her own blog Mamamia.com.au. As Freedman points out, the government doesn’t chose cover models, editors do.
Cue the Nobel peace prize for the editor of Marie Claire who has taken the decision to put a naked Jennifer Hawkins on this month’s cover, not to boost circulation, of course, but in the name of “positive body image.”
How brave of Jackie Frank to take a genetically-blessed 26-year-old former Miss Universe and pay her to get her kit off to make us all feel better about ourselves. Her historic move even came accessorised with a free lecture for Youth Minister Kate Ellis, who Frank says hasn’t done enough to address the crisis of confidence in Australia’s girls and young women.
Now Marie Claire can join the orgy of self-congratulation among Australia’s women’s mags which in the past couple of months have been bold enough to put Sarah Murdoch on the cover of Women’s Weekly without airbrushing her 3.5 wrinkles and encouraged Tiffany Wood to show off her curves in the buff in Maddison.
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I recently gave an address at the Media 140 Conference in Sydney about the impact of social media on journalism. I was invited to speak about the ethics and professionalism of the way I use twitter. Today’s post is adapted from my remarks.
My guiding principle is ‘If in doubt, leave it out’.
In other words, when it comes to what I put on twitter, I err on the side of caution - as I do with what I write or broadcast generally.
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I regularly find myself chairing panels at writers’ festivals or in bookshops and I give a standard spiel at the beginning of every event.
‘We’ll have time for questions at the end,’ I say, ‘And let me emphasise that we want questions, not statements. If you stand up and make a statement, I will cut you off and publicly humiliate you.’
It usually gets a laugh ... until they realise I’m completely serious.
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OFFICIAL: Rolling Stone will not be putting Kevin Rudd on the cover.
His interview will only run on the inside of the magazine, meaning the Ruddster will miss the same honour as the Rayban-clad Paul Keating in 1995 and Barack Obama in the US last year. “The way it was reported out of Canberra this morning you’d think he’s running on the front,” sources at the magazine told The Punch just now. “But there’s no way that will happen, for the simple reason that politicians don’t sell. The Keating edition tanked.”
The Rolling Stone story - broken by our own Leo Shanahan yesterday - was used by Tony Abbott on Punch TV this morning as evidence that Kevin Rudd won’t do “hard interviews” with serious political programs and newspapers. There might be something in that, but we thought this one was just a bit of fun.
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Here we go again, another sob story for the saddest, loneliest woman who ever lived. Ugh. I’m sick of Jennifer Aniston being crucified by every glossip mag on the planet for her “not-good-enough” love life. Not good enough for who?
Just imagine that every time a story appeared about you or your work, your ex and his new wife were also mentioned, as though you’re inextricably attached and can never hope to move on with the amount of horrendous diatribe spouting about him, and her, and you.
You’re not involved anymore – doesn’t anyone get it?
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Not long before Patrick Swayze died, I watched Dirty Dancing, partly for fun and partly searching for an answer to a pretty callous question: why was I oddly upset about Swayze’s terminal cancer when not only was he a stranger, but an average actor whose only real hits, Ghost and Dirty Dancing, were twenty years ago?
Harsh, yes. But it’s what I thought.
I still recall the day that I first saw Dirty Dancing. It was 1987. My three best friends and I were on school holidays and Melissa’s dad dropped us at the cinema at the Toombul Shopping Centre in Brisbane. We were buzzing with excitement, no doubt wearing acid wash jeans and oversized shirts with our fringes sprayed and teased into concrete boards, like every other fourteen year old girl of the day.
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While Kevin Rudd has never been media-shy (quite the opposite, what with his Twittering, website and blog), it seems his wife, Therese Rein, is finally ready for her close-up.
Back in May, I wrote ‘Rein Priming for Mag cover?’, suggesting that the likelihood of Rein appearing on the cover of an Aussie glossy was “about as likely as Susan Boyle landing the cover of British Vogue”. In the glossy media world, a picture of perfection sounds louder than a CV full of personal achievements, after all.
At the time, the media was going bananas over Rein’s apparent weight loss, which culminated in Woman’s Day bringing her down to gossip magazine level, publishing unflattering and unauthorised pictures of her exercising in her gym gear after the magazine was reportedly refused an interview.
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