Let me first say that I have an undeniable attraction to fashion magazines. I have tried to quit many times, but they always pull me back in. I have subscriptions to several, and end up buying the rest for 20% off at Costco each month. As much as I can’t resist the glossy, colorful pages, I am constantly getting myself all worked up over something printed within. I know I shouldn’t read them, but it doesn’t seem fair that something that could be fun and empowering so often turns out to be ridiculous and condescending. I could go on about this for a long time, but let me stop myself. The point of this is that for the first time I actually decided to write a letter to the editor about my frustration. I haven’t sent anything to a magazine since I was rejected by Highlights when I was eight years old, but I felt it was time. So for once instead of annoying my fiance or my sister with my rants, I sent it to someone who actually has some responsibility for what is published.
I wrote to Elle magazine about a piece of advice given in their section “ask E. Jean” in which people write into ask for sage advice from the ever so sensitive E. Jean. I have long disliked this entire section of Elle, and Ms. Jean herself. I don’t know her credentials, but in my opinion she is just awful at giving advice. Jezebel had a post about this earlier in the week, so I hope that means they got a lot of strongly worded letters about this. Here is the article in question (you have to click on the image to read it, and I apologize for my crooked scans):
So yeah, not only is it totally OK that your boss is using your physical appearance to prevent you from achieving your goals, but it’s all your fault, and your doctors all think you’re ugly and gross too, as does E. Jean, and Elle magazine. I’d also like to point out that this appeared in Elle’s ‘body issue’ which is supposed to be all about embracing and celebrating different body types.
Here is my letter:
I am writing to you because I am appalled by the advice given by E. Jean on page 172 of your June issue. I am amazed that Elle magazine would allow Ms. Jean to publish advice which alludes to the fact that work place discrimination is both acceptable, and the fault of the victim. Would this ever have been printed had the woman who wrote in for advice been speaking of discrimination based on race or sex? To act as though changing ones weight is as simple as changing one’s hair color, without taking in to account genetic factors, medical issues, and this woman’s past history with possible eating disorders, is simply irresponsible and ignorant. Your magazine should know better. As for the suggestion to read Crystal Renn’s memoir in which she discusses the difficulties she faced (including near death) in order to please others including her employers, well that is just a slap in the face to both Renn and the recipient of this ill attempt at advice. I hope the victim of this discrimination has supportive friends and family members who will give her advice without the clearly biased, and fat-phobic agenda that Elle magazine seems to promote. Shame on you and Ms. Jean.
Thanks for your time,
It felt good to send, and certainly better than sitting around getting angry. Will it make a difference? Probably not, but it can’t hurt either. I’m sick of magazines making me feel poor, fat, ugly, and unsuccessful. I really don’t believe that they can’t do better, or that it helps them sell more magazines. If I have to read one more article about how women like to see aspirational images I am just going to scream, and Elle will hear it loud and clear. I hope you’ll join me!