On Girliness and Goop: Why women’s lifestyle porn is making us look stupid

cupcakesIf there’s one thing that annoys me more than anything else, it’s twee lasses. I like baking because I like to stuff my face with cake, but you won’t see me doing it in a polka dot pinny and victory rolls, before serving it up on cutesy floral plates at a WI meeting. I have absolutely no need to look and behave like a 1950’s housewife, learning macramé and giggling and generally being a massive, massive twat. Alright, I know how to use a sewing machine, and I even made my dog a Christmas outfit. But that was because animals look hilarious in clothes, and I’m poor so it was cheaper to make one myself. However, I’m not going to be buying in to the ditsy floral epidemic that has become dominant in lifestyle porn for girls. Everywhere you look there’s some tosspot with a beehive and a nice cardi, making some homemade fudge as a delightful gift for her girlfriends. Funnily enough it’s a different story for men- their lifestyle porn still consists of nice cars and money and flashy stainless steel gadgets. They’re encouraged to lie back in a big leather chair, watch a massive telly and drink some nice beer, whilst we get on with reading Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘Goop’, trying to bend ourselves into mad yoga shapes sogoop-gwyneth-paltrow that we might be better at shagging. We all knew Gwyneth was a doyle (she married Chris Martin, has kids with stupid names and can’t do an English accent for shit) but her website is painfully annoying.

Second on my list of annoying websites that are trying to turn women into bland rag dolls, whose only interests are puppies and, like, world peace, is company.co.uk. The website, along with the magazine, has turned into the twee bible. I’m sure it used to be OK-  a bit dull, but your standard women’s fashion mag. Then I bought a copy a few months ago and actually felt a little nauseated as I paged through ideas of how to make a stuffed owl, how to make sure your boyfriend didn’t leave you, fashion stylist‘cute’ pink nail patterns, and so on and so on until I was ready to rip my own eyes out. The thing that really got me was the way they attempted to shoehorn in a couple of serious issues, but then wrote about them as if their audience was a bored toddler. Anything about politics was pared down to a ridiculous degree, and the career pages were just as dispiriting. The website has a career section and it seems that in their eyes, the careers to aim for are: stylist, fashion magazine editor, shoe designer, head of a fashion company, PR, media. No nurses, social workers, teachers, or any job that doesn’t involve swanning round London in expensive shoes. Nothing, in fact, that is realistic or messy or un-glamorous. Fair enough, they sometimes feature women that are doing well and have made a lot of money, but it’s always someone who has gone to Oxford before becoming the CEO of Prada by the time they were 25, and the article is illustrated with pictures of the woman in her beautiful house with cushions that she made herself (obviously) and freshly baked cookies on the table. It’s all completely irrelevant to most of the female population. Here, Company magazine: I don’t want to start my own business selling felt hair clips, I’m not going to adjust what I do to my pubic hair to make my boyfriend happy and I could care less about drawing teddy bears on my nails, so fuck off.

Louise-Mensch-007

If you’ve never seen her before, this is the face of evil, aka former Tory MP Louise Mensch. Only an hour ago she tweeted ‘@LouiseMensch: Every day is Margaret Thatcher day. #Falklands #Heroine‘ which gives you some idea of what she’s like. She used to write a column for Glamour magazine, which featured much of the same irrelevant and annoying career advice, with a side helping of conservative nastiness. I can see the magazine’s thinking- ‘Ooo, hasn’t she got lovely hair! I think she does something important as well! Lets get her in! What with the millions of arse-licking  interviews with David Cameron we’ve done I don’t think anyone’s noticed that we are a Tory mouthpiece so it’ll be fine!’. Basically she kept telling women that we CAN have it all, and having it all in her case means plastic surgery, private school and a millionaire husband. Her and Gwyneth telling us povs that the key to a happy life is organisation when we know they have 2 nannies and a gardener, makes even the most sane person pull a Nikki Grahame, tearing out our hair screaming ‘who IS she? WHO IS SHE?’.

zooeyObviously, the poster girl for bunting and wide eyed irritating kitsch is Zooey Deschanel. However, me and many others have attacked her already so I’m not going to get into it again. Soz about all that Zoo, ukuleles aren’t that annoying really, and you don’t make all of your characters seem like they have a learning disability. I forgive you. Although I did get so many lasses going ‘omg you look well like that girl in New Girl!’ to me in pub toilets that I eventually had to have all my hair cut off. You RUINED fringes for me.

I think what annoys me about this whole trend towards twee-ness and exclamation marks and cupcakes is that is treats women like little girls. Yes, it’s nice to have those things once in a while, and I’m not so much of a man that I can’t appreciate a skater skirt and a bit of cross-stitch. It’s just that magazines like Company seem to be completely dominated by it. You can be a girly girl and also like to smoke a fag, wear trainers, buy your cakes from the spar at 11pm, have opinions, read proper newspapers, be shit at doing winged eyeliner, and make your bloke get the tea ready for when YOU get in from work. We women don’t need people like Mensch and Paltrow telling us how to be perfect and feminine from their glossy ivory towers. Thank god for Lucy Mangan, Caitlin Moran et al.,who make it seem OK to wear Dr Martens and no make up, to eschew tea parties for party parties, to be messy and real and to fuck up sometimes. That’s the kind of thing that I can really look up to, and there’s not a pinny in sight.

22 responses to “On Girliness and Goop: Why women’s lifestyle porn is making us look stupid

  1. Heck. Yes.
    Thanks for following my blog, it means I looked at yours and I LOVE IT!
    I am god-awful at winged eyeliner, I love eating and wearing boots inappropriately.
    Keep up the amazing blogging, it’s so gratefully received.

  2. Awesome post! Yay for Caitlin Moran, my newest heroine. She’s fantastic. I’m totally with you on hating the super-girly stereotype. As much as I may love baking, it certainly doesn’t define me or my relationship with my husband! It’s more about not caring how many calories I eat, which in many ways is a rebellion against that same stereotyping 😉

  3. I can stomach Zooey Deschanel — mainly because I think she’s got smarts somewhere in that brain of hers. However, I’m VERY tired of the empty doe-eyed look. I don’t see men prancing around trying to look clueless. And then there’s Katy Perry. I just. Can’t.

    Great blog!

  4. Hi there! I see you’ve followed me, thank you! At first I was sure you were a spammer, what with the blog title… But now I’m reassured you’re real, funny, and spot-on to boot! Nice to meet you 😜

  5. Great article! Also, you were so generous to follow my blog, and I changed the URL. To get updates on your reader feed, just follow As Told by Laura at astoldbylaura.wordpress.com. Sorry for the confusion!

  6. Greetings from the US of A! Did you know… you’re the second person to follow my blog aside from my mother? Thanks for taking an interest. I’m pleased to find myself here, reading your witty commentary and look forward to reading many more. Cheers!

  7. I have to mostly agree with this post! I have my own blog which is very very twee and I find myself getting ever more sucked into the girly blogosphere of pretending your life is filled with knitting projects and eating macaroons when in reality I go out three times a week and occasionally take an interest in real-world issues….
    Its refreshing to read real blogs like yours and I think I should be a bit braver with mine…. I also think magazines like company should get some more mental feminists on their pages as these would be my real heroines if I ever got to see them!

    p.s don’t hate on Zooey! http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/01/09/in_defense_of_zooey_deschanel_the_girly_girl_everyone_loves_to_hate_is_a.html

  8. First, thanks for deciding to follow my blog!

    I was going to reply that I don’t have a girly-girl bone in my body, but then recalled that the core of my blog is a sappy, fairytale-ish romance set in the Middle Ages (Sort of. I hate research, so it’s the Fairy Tale Land version of the Middle Ages). That probably counts.

    That said, it’s the outward trappings of girly-girl that were never on my radar or to-do lists, so I was never offended by them. I just do a bit of an eye-roll and move on, I suppose. Not that I haven’t noticed the trend, thanks to the patron saints of Zooey and Katy and their respective acolytes. Meanwhile, I don’t even OWN a dress or skirt. If I must look “nice,” then it’s with a business suit and still no makeup.

    In the US – and I guess it’s infected other countries, too? – there is the magazine Cosmopolitan, which, month after month, reduces women to being love slaves. And is written BY women. Every article is some variation of how to inspire sheet-ripping intercourse. So it’s sex for the wealthy, as only they can afford to constantly replace their bedding.

    Signing off, I should say that I could use a nanny. Not for any children, for I have none, but for myself, because I have zero ability to focus on any necessary tasks at home, and I’ve discovered, to my horror, that dishes, clothing, carpets, bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, and kitchens will NOT clean themselves.

  9. I agree that the dumbing down of serious issues in women’s lifestyle magazines is both annoying and makes for a shit read but who picks up a copy of Cosmopolitan or Look to read in-depth political issues? I’ve seen so many instances where women are dismissed as shallow or vapid for liking make-up and clothes despite the fact it is entirely possible to be both interested in these things AND articulate and intelligent. Big shocker that isn’t it?

    • I love fashion and makeup. The issue I have is with the cutesy little girly tweeness of magazine like company. Company and cosmo have serious journalists working for them and they do often try to write about careers and political issues, which is great; but they shouldn’t dumb them down just because it’s a womens mag. In fast the ‘its possibly to be intelligent and be interested in fashion too’ argument is entirely my point: we can be interested in makeup and still be able to handle a serious article.

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