When I was a little girl, my pocket money was spent solely on magazines and bath balls from The Body Shop. All I wanted to do was read about what lipgloss was cool, what I should be wearing on my feet and what Ronan from Boyzone looked for in a future wife. Twenty years later and not much has changed – I still look to magazines for inspiration, aspiration and a little time out. I’ve got subscriptions to Elle, Cosmo and Stylist, regularly pick up a copy of Look while waiting for a train and can often be seen sneaking a copy of Psychologies off the shelf in the hope that nobody’s looking. Magazines, for me, offer a little time to catch up on what’s new and dream about expensive shoes I could never quite justify splurging on; they’re that little bit of luxury that I feel from the moment I breathe in the scent of the freshly printed pages. Although as someone who’s been blogging for nearly five years (and makes their living from the online world,) I’m probably expected to loathe magazines and all they stand for – but the reality is very different.
I willingly part with my cash for a regular installment of glossy paper, and love the excitement
that comes with unwrapping my exclusive subscriber covers as soon as
they land on my doormat. Magazines offer a taste of something unrivaled
by the internet, but circulations are down and titles are closing nearly
every month. Company is the latest victim of an ever-evolving market,
having failed to reap the rewards of celebrating their reader’s love of
online; however, this is unsurprising considering so many magazines
still don’t truly understand why their readers pay for a copy of their
monthly bible. After all, they’re the ones who are important – not the advertisers.
Before the birth of blogs (and an obsession with the celebrity section of the Daily Mail,) I had a subscription to Heat Magazine. While I was at University I would willingly eat beans for a week if it meant I could still get my fix of celebrity gossip, fashion and news. It provided immediacy and relevance in a fast-paced world, showing you who the members of Girls Aloud were dating before their mum even knew. However, with the rapid expansion of the online destination came the decline of this need – we all gave up reading Heat, More, Grazia and Look in favour of reading gossip blogs and refreshing the Daily Mail at thirty minute intervals. These titles simply don’t have a place any more; by the time they’ve had a chance to print a photo of Kim Kardashian in her latest boob-revealing outfit, we’ve already seen it 37 times. It’s old news. It’s no surprise to me that these kind of magazines are declining faster than Paul Gasgoine’s health, because they simply don’t provide anything new. However, monthly magazines and glossier titles still (in my opinion) hold a very important role and provide something unrivaled by dot com.
I don’t have a subscription to Elle because I want to see the FROW of New York Fashion Week or what lipgloss the beauty editor is favouring this month, but because they produce real pieces of journalism and reflective articles that make me think. I love that they champion women in the workplace, tackle slightly controversial issues and don’t ever make me feel less of a woman for having cellulite and a vacant womb at the age of 31. I love the fact that they get access to the celebrities I really want to read about, asking the questions I really want to know the answer to. They celebrate women, rather than circling their wobbly bits or showcasing a fashion fail. One of my favourite things to do is to run a bath, add in a exotic scented bath oil and flick through the latest copy of Elle – it provides escapism, a touch of decadence and inspiration for my own work.
Although many magazines have felt the need to encapsulate an online world and the fast-paced reality of the internet into their pages, I really feel that they need to stick to what they do best and continue to make titles that leave us wanting more. The photography they produce is inspirational, pushes the boundaries and illustrates fashion and beauty in the most creative way. I love how Stylist can make even eye creams really leap from the page in a way you would never have expected. No matter how much I try, I simply can’t offer that kind of visual on this site – nor would I ever try to replicate the experience of a magazine. Because that’s what it is: an experience.
A magazine is something to be devoured from cover to cover, to be inhaled and touched, to be kept on a coffee table as a statement about who you are. I recently read an incredibly interesting book called The Vogue Factor by Kirstie Clements, who had worked at the Australian and Asian arm of the title for 25 years. It was a complete eye-opener, discussing the inner workings of such an illustrious magazine and the pressures that have been placed on them since the online boom. Kirstie discusses the pressure placed on magazines by CEO’s and by advertisers, without any concern for the quality of the written word or the needs of the reader; she’s spot-on with her commentary and finishes by saying: “I like to hope that career success comes from wanting to do a great job, not just making short-sighted decisions in order to keep your job.” I fear that many magazines are now operating in a way where they are just trying to keep afloat, rather than seriously carving a niche for themselves that will generate long-term success.
I’ve found it fascinating to watch even the biggest of names adopt social media, integrate their contributors faces into articles and even encourage beauty journalists to (shock) try things and report back – all very symptomatic of why blogs have been so successful in the last five years. However, as much as we all love to know who is behind the text on a page, magazines are so much more than the people that write them. For me, magazines are a little luxury that provide a moment of pure indulgence in topics that make me think and in fashion pages that make me dream. As much as I love the online world and devour about fifty different blogs in any one day, they’ll never be able to take away that experience or love I have for a thick and heavy pile of glossy paper. I for one hope magazines can evolve in such a way that they keep everyone happy and stay around for the next generation of women to enjoy.
Do you love magazines? What do you feel about the changing way we digest information?