"Gossip" magazines - as bad as Lad's Mags/Page 3?

(45 Posts)

So the recent campaigns against Page 3 and Lad's Mags are fantastic and definitely long overdue. But I want to know why no-one seems to want to make a fuss about women's "gossip" magazines.

I've just popped to my corner shop and there, staring out at me from the magazine racks are "Forced to abort my baby after my dad raped me" and similar hideousness. And "Chantelle's binge eating shame" showing some apparent celebrity with a tiny bulge of a belly lamenting how "enormously fat" she is.

I mean, WTAF?!?! My 8yo reads just fine. I'm just waiting to be asked what rape is, and then asked why a daddy would ever do that. And to be asked if that lady is really fat, Mummy?

Not to mention how triggering it must be for survivors of rape and sexual assault when there's a story about it in luminous orange text on the cover of at least one magazine each week. Or for people with eating disorders to be told that normal-sized women are appallingly obese.

I think I'd rather have the scantily-clad women, to be honest. Yes, we all know these rags aren't worth the paper they're printed on, but neither are Lad's Mags. And the messages are still out there, at child-height, for them to read.

grimbletart Fri 04-Oct-13 21:54:43

Annie: I think these celeb mags are the spawn of the devil. I was in the hairdressers the other day and picked up a handful of mags - Now, Closer etc. They are vomit making. Pretty much every page was either about being too fat or too skinny, about getting figures back after babies, about who is shagging whom.

I agree, in their own way, they are as sick as the lads' mags.

No wonder so many young girls are obsessed with their figures, their diets and thinking that appealing to men is the most important thing in life rather than getting a life of their own.

They are total tripe. Even the old fashioned weeklies such as Woman and Woman's Own, which used to exist in a 50s time warp of knitting, cooking and domesticity - tedious rather than actively damaging - are as bad now.

I hadn't seen these mags really having no interest in them, but I sat there turning page after page in a sort of horrible fascination that anything could be such complete shit and so damaging. sad

sinistersal Fri 04-Oct-13 21:58:32

They are awful

But the main difference I can see is that the lads mags trade in images, while the gossip mags need to be read. It's not quite as in your face as children may not take the time to read them, be able to read them, or understand what the words they read mean.

YoniTime Fri 04-Oct-13 22:00:38

Yeah I hate them too. And yes kids can you know, read sad
Who is the audience for these "look at this female celebs body!! omg so fat/skinny!!" anyway?

kim147 Fri 04-Oct-13 22:04:25

Probably the same group who read the Daily Mail Sidebar of shame

UnicornsPooGlitter Fri 04-Oct-13 22:07:58

I find them truly awful, yet hugely addictive if I read them, so I don't! The photographs aren't the kind of thing I want DS to see either.

YoniTime Fri 04-Oct-13 22:14:09

What is it that you like about them Unicorns? I'm curious why people find them interesting since I don't.

kim147 Fri 04-Oct-13 22:19:11

And why is there so many of them? There are loads of titles for "woman's weeklies".

But nothing similar for men.

I think this is a brilliant thread. I have hated these magazines for years. I agree that the sensationalism of their stories which are usually based around serious issues is damaging to and can be exploitative of the people 'telling their stories.' it is also damaging for children/teenagers etc to see this normalisation of diets, obsession with weight and I think they are all a pile of shit tbh.

BasilBabyEater Fri 04-Oct-13 22:37:55

They are the most peculiar magazines, you see them just before you get to the checkout don't you?

What I find really odd, is the ones which have soap characters on the front with headlines from the soap's storyline - so not about the actors, but about the actual characters as if they are real.

It's just bizarre and unhealthy and ever so slightly sinister. Like a plot to make people stupid.

Yougotbale Fri 04-Oct-13 22:43:41

I don't think you can say which one is worse. They are on different tangents of the same problem. One sexualise and objectifies and one pushes beauty and hounds celebs for weight, cellulite, fashion, make up, etc.

There is one common theme and that's brain rotting. I couldn't careless if bieber has a new £500 grand car or vorderman has a dimply arse. I don't care if a glamour model airbrushed within an inch of her life is trying to make me bet online. It's all so fucking sad

rosabud Fri 04-Oct-13 23:01:33

A close relative of mine had her "diet success" story featured in one of these magazines. Her "story," which is actually one of life-long dysfunctional attitudes to food that has resulted in a huge strain on her health, her relationships with other people and her own self-esteem, was trivialised as a "Yay, I lost X stone" scenario. As somebody who has been affected by this person's sad, negative history with food and dieting, I found the article disatasteful and depressing. However, my close realtive, not one for political analysis or feminist theory, was thrilled and I had no choice but to smile and say how wonderful it was. sad

I can't put into words how much I hate those magazines.

Darkesteyes Fri 04-Oct-13 23:58:54

While i agree with some of what you say (i prefer mags like Psychologies but their sales have dropped by 45% in the last year according to ABC circulation figures) it is not women who have abused me in the street in the past because of my size (i used to be a size 28 then dropped to a 14 , am now a 20) it is MEN who have shouted out all sorts of nasty mysogynistic sizeist comments in the street and i really dont think they have been reading Glamour.
I was on a rare night out a while ago with a friend and a bloke commented on the size of her chest. She is slim and small His comment “Blimey you are hardly Nuts material are you?

THIS is why i would prefer the lads mags to go first and then we can start tackling the celebrity rags

MsJupiterJones Sat 05-Oct-13 09:21:57

Hate celebrity/gossip magazines but love real-life ones. I agree that some of the headlines can be triggering but would much rather read a story about someone's life experience than a celeb diet or circle of shame etc. I think the worst is Grazia as it has pretentions to be serious and about fashion when actually it's just as vacuous and small-minded as Heat etc.

The real life magazines feature women from all walks of life, often giving a perspective that wouldn't be heard otherwise. They often feature LGBT people without that being the story or sensationalised. Fat, thin, old, young, black, white, all there and no airbrushing.

Of course they are not perfect either (and the random models on the front cover are not so diverse!) but I love reading magazines and can't stomach any of the celeb type ones so these are my go-to switch-off option.

scallopsrgreat Sat 05-Oct-13 10:02:39

I agree completely with Darkesteyes. It's men's attitudes that need to change first.

Darkesteyes Sat 05-Oct-13 14:44:00

YY grimble about Woman and Womans Own.
They are now as vacuous as Closer.

In fact Woman is simply Closer aimed at an older demographic. its not just celebrity fluff either.
Woman and Closer have been printing stories that are much more harmful.
They have both been targeting single mothers on benefits. And writing in such a way as if it is entirely the womans fault for getting pregnant I wandered on to Womans FB page a couple of times after such stories were printed. And the "should have kept her legs closed" type comments was the perfect example of extreme mysogyny. I tried to point out that what is often printed is classist mysogynist propaganda but i was really pissing in the wind.
Woman and Closer are as bad as the Daily Mail.

whatdoesittake48 Sat 05-Oct-13 17:07:15

Is it really men's attitudes which need to be changed? I think women need to worked on too. Someone is buying these mags - in fact millions of women read them every day. Women are being provided with what they are asking for: pictures of women on diets, pictures of celebs looking normal/abnormal/ugly/beautiful/whatever...

the problem is that for whatever reason women are asking for this shite and paying for it. We need to get to the bottom of why that is. Have the magazines themselves created the market or does it exist because of other societal pressures/ conventions?

Clearly if the magazines changed their formats they would sell less. So - women need to change....how is the question. Women want this stuff and like it.

it probably starts in childhood, school, relationships. marketing everything. Change the women and you will change the mags - I don't think it will be effective the other way around. it is so much more than just magazine which influence what women think they like.

scallopsrgreat Sat 05-Oct-13 18:00:22

This is all rooted in misogyny. Misogyny comes from the patriarchy I.e. male supremacy. How are women supposed to change if all their environment is framed according to men? If they are seen as the 'sex' class? Even if by some miracle they do change (and then there's the question of what they change into) that still doesn't stop male supremacy.

Change the environment ie. eradicate misogyny and this will make all this competitiveness and focus on looks etc pointless. But misogyny has to be tackled and that means tackling men's behaviour.

UnicornsPooGlitter Sat 05-Oct-13 21:06:17

Yoni, I really used to find these magazines addictive - it felt like I knew who everyone was, and what they were (apparently) doing. Of course, I just knew who an essentially random group of people were, and probably had no idea of what they were really doing. Now I have no idea who lots of celebrities are, and it's even better.

I think I started to question my Heat habit when a colleague took the piss out of one of their stories (I think Madonnas had fallen off her bike or something). I can still feel the shame.

UnicornsPooGlitter Sat 05-Oct-13 21:19:03

Just to add, discovering MN, and therefore feminism, probably helped too. Heat et al really are a pile of vacuous rubbish. I'd much rather read something interesting / thought provoking on MN.

I don't know what magazine I'd enjoy though - I seem to fall somewhere between Heat (no thanks) and Good Housekeeping (also no thanks). So I feel somewhat un-catered for.

YoniTime Sat 05-Oct-13 21:48:16

Thanks for explaining Unicorns - I can sort of see the appeal if you see it as "news about people I know." Which all celebrity gossip is about I guess except we don't really know those people and what is going on in their lives it just feels that way.

Darkesteyes Sat 05-Oct-13 21:52:58


Sales of womens weekly gossip titles have been going down year on year.

So you see people ARE stopping buying them.


BasilBabyEater Sat 05-Oct-13 21:54:43

I used to have a subscription to Glamour magazine, for some reason. grin

They always refer to slebs by t heir first name only, in this really familiar way as if they're our chums. And they have this chatty, confiding style which draws you in and makes you feel like you're sitting in a girly supper exchanging confidences.

It is extremely clever marketing and if I were a conspiracy theorist I would posit that it's all designed to make women stupid and to draw our attention away from the things which actually matter. However I'm not, so I submit that it's designed to make money by making women feel like they're being talked to directly by the global corporations which produce this rubbish. It's escapism, faux-support and gossip all in one. Women's magazines are remarkable products, before the internet they had the most intimate relationship with their readers and the most loyal and connected readership. I don't know if that's still the case in the world of Twitter and FB where brands can communicate directly with their consumers now.

BasilBabyEater Sat 05-Oct-13 21:55:26

Darkest is that because people are getting their "fix" from the internet now?

Like men with porn?

kim147 Sat 05-Oct-13 21:57:23

I think it's because people are looking at the DM sidebar of shame. Celebrities, celebrities in bikinis, on a diet, should be on a diet, too thin, too fat, too old, wrong clothes, too little clothes etc.

Darkesteyes Sat 05-Oct-13 21:58:41

YY Basil Nail on head. People can talk to tweet celebs on Twitter and sometimes they reply so why buy a celeb/gossip mag when you can practically talk to them directly.

BillyBanter Sat 05-Oct-13 22:01:49

I've very little experience of them bar seeing the front pages in the newsagents and browsing through them maybe 5 times in my life.

I have mixed feelings about the true story bits but the 'this celeb is too fat. this celeb did a diet! this celeb is now painfully thin. Fucking awful stuff. No better than this girl has her tits out!

NoComet Sat 05-Oct-13 22:09:05

Personally I think the gossip mag headlines are far worse than lads mag.

At 6-7 my good reader DD2 would have just ignored porn, but My brother killed my baby, raped by my father, 101 ways to lose weight in lurid mink and orange. I'm certain she must of read them and felt uncomfortable. Words like baby, father, child leap out at DCs.

She wouldn't have say anything and I don't know when she'd know what rape meant, but I'm absolutely certain this junk enters her head and is added to all the celeb rubbish she gets as a pre teen now.

And like many young girls who want to fit in with their peer group she's not one to discuss such things with mum.

DD1 would, but DD1 isn't likely to think that diets, fashion and BFs are that important either.

I'm glad it's not just me then.

There seems to be some horrible story of sexual abuse on the front of every one, and that's the bit I find worst. Who on earth thinks it's okay to put these things where children can read them?

MooncupGoddess Sat 05-Oct-13 22:34:55

It's the faux concern that gets me. At the checkout the other day I saw Woman's Own with the cover story 'Dawn puts on weight - friends are worried', complete with obligatory papped photo of celeb nipping out for milk. How vile is that?

The real life stories in Take a Break etc are actually much kinder - OK they are sensationalist and obsessed with sex/reproduction but they usually have an upbeat ending, major on the importance of friends and family and showcase lots of ordinary people without sneering at their uncoolness.

The internal content of these magazines is less of a concern for me. Adults are free to choose their own reading matter, as dubious as I may find it.

My concern with the gossip mags is the same as my concern with lads mags; that they are out on display for children to see with cover content which is completely inappropriate for children.

SeaSickSal Sat 05-Oct-13 23:24:11

Closer actually had a really horrible picture of Chantelle on the front this week. She was running along the beach and had the figure of a woman who has had a baby in the last 18 months. She had a few stretch marks on her boobs and they were a little lose as was her stomach. There was this awful headline like 'Chantelle's body nightmare'. It was an unflattering photo but really she looked healthy and normal - far better than when she had her eating disorder.

Re the 'My Dad raped me and I aborted his baby' magazine's like Take a Break and That's Life. I don't really agree there is a problem with these. We're not all university professors and really a lot of these magazines do discuss women's issues in a way which is accessible to women who might not have much of an education. Yes they are sensationalised but they do deal with issues like domestic violence and sexual abuse and people who have overcome these challenges in their own lives and I think that they appeal to their readers because they can to some degree relate the stories they read to problems they face in their own lives. I don't think they should necessarily be dismissed because they are aimed at a downmarket audience.

I disagree Sal, I can't see how making a sensationalist story about sexual violence, and plastering headlines about it in lurid pink is anything other than sick voyeurism. How can these stories possibly help anyone in a similar situation in any practical way.

kim147 Sat 05-Oct-13 23:47:53

It's strange that there's no real equivalent for men - even with real life "life" stories in such as DV and sexual abuse.

Why is there such a demand? (even if the market is falling)

SeaSickSal Sat 05-Oct-13 23:55:19

Annie if you are, for example, a young mother with a fairly poor standard of education who doesn't read books and doesn't have access to the net where do you think you would find out about situations like domestic violence?

An awful lot of it touches on the type of things that are discussed on this board but aimed at a different group of people. An awful lot of the stories are about things like people who have reported childhood sexual abuse years later and secured a conviction and women who have escaped domestic violence. Really in a way they bring a lot of women's issues to an audience which otherwise might not have much exposure to them.

Yes the sensationalism and presentation of it is sometimes distasteful, but at the same time they do deal with these issues in a way which makes them accessible, possibly to people who might well be the most in need of hearing how other women have coped with such situations. I don't think you should necessarily dismiss something just because it's not highbrow.

Being "highbrow" has nothing to do with it, Sal. And I'm afraid that I put protecting my daughters from reading horrible sensationalist headlines about rape and incest above "accessibility" about these issues. There has to be a better way to help get information out to the less educated that doesn't involve me having to explain what rape is to my 8yo.

DebrisSlide Sun 06-Oct-13 00:14:46

It's all judging, judging, judging as far as the "celebs" are concerned. If everyone decided that they were comfortable in their own skin, accepted difference and didn't feel that they have to have a fucking opinion on another person's random qualities based on next to nothing every 50 seconds, then the likes of these magazines, X Factor, AIBU etc wouldn't be here. (I do sometimes think of MN as like a massive Women's Proper Conduct and Attire Police Force.)

That said, I do agree with SeaSickSal - they do give many people a sense of understanding and solidarity that they might not get elsewhere. My Mum used to get Woman back in the pre-sensational days and my Dad always used to read the problem page. It didn't help much, viewing their relationship at the time, but it was interesting that he was interested, iyswim. In fact, I would suggest that, given that men are often quoted as lacking any public outlet for internal issues and seem to flock to MN as a last resort, an agony aunt/uncle website for men would be a sure-fire winner.

DebrisSlide Sun 06-Oct-13 00:19:50

That was a ramble, sorry.

I do agree that the front covers are appalling and sensationalist.Of course, if there wasn't so much violence against women and children....

Actually, if the men's mags started putting stories about men being violent towards men (the majority of violence in our country) in the same style, then perhaps it would start being noted.

SeaSickSal Sun 06-Oct-13 00:37:41

Annie yes, of course you are right that there is an issue with items like this being accessible to children or that they can view distressing headlines, I do agree with that.

But I do think that there is a place for these magazines, they do discuss issues that are relevant to women and they do it in an accessible way. I don't really think there is anything wrong with women reading stories about problems other women have faced and how they've overcome them, I think it's quite a natural human urge to want to read about that sort of thing and can be quite empowering for readers.

Darkesteyes Sun 06-Oct-13 01:01:29

seasick sal ive just posted in a thread on AIBU pointing out that as a working class woman ive always felt welcome on this board.
I felt i had to point this out as there were women on the thread who said they didnt feel able to post on this board as it strikes them as a bit middle class.

So after ive just been defending this board on another board ive now seen some of the comments here.
Ive not been to university Im dyscalculic so couldnt get GCSE Maths. But i dont think of myself as "downmarket" And i certainly hope other women dont think of themselves that way.
I read Red and Psychologies I cant stand mags like Womans Own. Ive always loved to read From "chick lit" to crime thrillers to erotic fiction (NOT 50 Shades)
Feeling a bit disappointed now.

DebrisSlide Sun 06-Oct-13 01:09:33

Darekesteyes, I read Psychologies when it first came out. I stopped subscribing when I spotted the dichotomy between the "be whoever you want to be" articles and the make up ads, in particular. I may be mis-remembering the cosmetic surgery ads.

How do you square that circle?

Darkesteyes Sun 06-Oct-13 01:16:36

Debris thats a good point. In a way ive stopped noticing a lot of the ads. I have noticed a bit of victim blaming this month though. In an article on dating there is a statement about how, if you are not a trusting person you will attract untrustworthy men confused i was shock

Darkesteyes Sun 06-Oct-13 18:09:22
SeaSickSal Sun 06-Oct-13 22:03:33

It is a downmarket magazine, it's certainly not Tatler or Vanity Fair. And Darkest Eyes I didn't say that all people who weren't well educated read it, but it is aimed at that type of market.

Regardless, I saw the cover of one of these magazines today and the stories were about a woman who escaped from an abusive relationship, a woman who had complications from gastric band surgery, a surrogate mother and a mother who was told to return the compensation she had received for her son's disability when he died.

I don't think magazines which print things like this in an accessible way. They discuss issues which are relevant to a lot of women and normally in a positive way which emphasizes the ability women have to move on from these problems and better their lives.

I really don't see the problem with them at all.

Janet12345 Tue 08-Oct-13 03:00:58

I have to say I don't like these magazines either they strike me as just as damaging as the men's mags or the page 3 insert. It would be good if we could add them to the list of magazines to get removed from stores. Is that something we can request from the guys running the campaign ?

I dread to think what my little ones will think when they are old enough to read and they saw them...

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