I know I am getting older when I look at the front cover of a Good Housekeeping Magazine and don’t even recognize the woman in the front cover. Last I checked I thought I was Good Housekeeping’s target audience. I mean this has been happening since I was about forty when I happened to pick up a fashion magazine and had no clue about who most of the women were as the magazine was reviewing their dresses from some function they attended.
“There’s nothing sexier than life experience,” Connie Britton is quoted on the front of this month’s GH. I turned to page 44 to see who Connie was. Apparently GH made the assumption that all of us women knew who she was. Then I noticed that GH got the bright idea to do two more covers, like covers within covers. Tracee Ellis Ross, “I wear what makes my heart sing!” and lastly Rashida Jones, “I push myself to do something new and uncomfortable every year.” Again, having no idea who any of these women were, I quickly turned to the section to see what sage advice they would be giving filtered of course through the Good Housekeeping seal of approval lens.
It is funny, I love women, I love women who own their shit (literally and figuratively as we all now by now), but I have a deep disdain for magazines. In my business I have never allowed them because I can’t stand the comparisons we naturally make just because it our female nature to do so. But because I own a beauty business, I get about five to ten magazines a week as promotional pieces (aka free). After doling the ones out I can’t bear to look at, I usually keep the ones that are more targeted for fifty somethings.
Today when I glanced at the quote from Connie, “There’s nothing sexier than life experience,” I just had to go cynical for a moment. What the hell, it’s Easter and I am sure that even Jesus must have had some cynicism at some point in his short life, (like maybe the crucifixion).
First off Connie is a beautiful white woman, actress, champion for poverty and women’s empowerment, has even been to Rwanda and Kenya (to prove it?) And she just recently adopted a boy from Ethiopia. She is fifty and smashing, starring in Friday Night Lights, (yes, I actually have heard of that) among other shows, but as I sit here with tubes and drains hanging off my back, tits as hard as baseballs that are starting to turn kind of lumpy (this is perfectly normal Dr. Hottie assured me at my last visit) I am not quite sure that this part of life experience is that sexy. What does sexy even mean and why is Connie telling me that is the bar I am supposed to be reaching for?
Of course as you can imagine, I turned to the second cover and low and behold, there is Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Diana (defintitely know who she is….ohhhhh love to love you baby or is that Donna Summer? Google, take me away. Yes Donna Summer. Sorry Diana.) “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” There we go. Now that has a message especially from a powerhouse like Diana Ross in the time she became a business woman. Oh GH, how come Tracee is not the cover? Are we still in the fifties where blond white woman are the preferred front cover? At least you tried with second and third place. Third cover is Rashida Jones as in daughter of Quincy, know him, and Peggy Lipton. OMG Peggy Lipton! Mod Squad Peggy Lipton. Definitely know who she is. So third place goes to mixed race Rashida. Really GH? Well it turns out that Tracee is mixed race too, but her dad is Jewish, good going GH, you covered the industry pretty well. Connie’s parents had both died within three years of each other so not sure who they were, but obviously her life and image was deemed Cover # 1. Mmmm is there a possibility that the three covers are being shown differently throughout the country depending on the demographics? Alright I have to stop this madness. I don’t really fricking care and this is why I don’t read magazines. But as I stared at Connie in her “fit and flare” off white dress, “This dress is all the proof you need that you don’t have to show cleavage or bare arms to look and feel sexy,” some GH beauty editor crooned.
Why am I going through all of this reconstruction then if I don’t have to show cleavage ever again? (Because I actually like my cleavage for one.) I felt relieved because I was seriously concerned about how my life may go on and now thanks to Good Housekeeping I have realized that I can be hopeful that my sex appeal is check marked. Let me just take one more sneak peak and just see how this dress may fit into my life (not that I would be caught dead in this dress ever). Well the shoes ($120) are available at Macy’s (.com because brick and mortars are on their way to extinction) except for Bloomingdales where the dress is. (I will have to get a ride to Newton, Mass because I can’t drive, you know that range of motion thing and for those of us who have been on 128 North, you know you need full range of motion.) No price listed. Let’s see, Bloomingdales not listed as .com and no price, I am guessing that this simple little number is likely over five hundred dollars. So Connie’s eight foot legs and slender arms and waist not worrying about cleavage and bare arms anyway seems to be the perfect role model for me and my sexy aspirations. I don’t know, but if I had proud Connie’s fifty year old legs and slender arms and no mastectomied breasts, I think I would be showing all that shit off. After all it takes a lot of work to get to fifty and even have that to camoflauge. Why hide it?
I think it would be fun to have GH do a spread on women with drains and new construction after lumpectomies and double mastectomies but not make it a point. Just throw us in as we are with all of our scars and incisions and lymphedema potential and bald heads for those of us who couldn’t miss the chemo step (thank you God, I was saved from that one) and radiation burns. Just like they shouldn’t be pointing out the mixed race women and the women who are proud to show their curves like that is something special (according to Rashida who pointed out that there was an actual “J Lo Effect” her words not mine) How about just treating women as women, women who have more than twenty percent body fat, cellulite, women who have some arm flab because unless you are my fitness instructor, Kathy, it is likely most normal woman have some.
Ok, let me take off my cynical hat now and say I am sure Good Housekeeping has come a long way. So I decided to take a look briefly online to pose the question to google, “When was the first black woman featured on the front cover of Good Housekeeping?” The only thing I could come up with without going to a library site. to authentically research the question was a paper written by Connie Johnson from Minnesota State University in 2015. http://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/438/ that covered questions I had never even considered like objectification, white masking and hypersexualized imaging. I am putting the link to this research paper here because it is pretty interesting if you want to be gender smarter today.
The harsh reality was that only 4.2% of the top magazines had an African American woman on the cover where white women where featured 81% of the time. Ms. Johnson was really looking more at the hows of the features versus the quantites, but it was a great mind opening for me and reminded me of how much I love gender classes. But I couldn’t find a single link with my question of who was first African American woman on Good Housekeeping. Stay tuned. This will be on my list of something to occupy my time this upcoming week as I am feeling so great, this will be an interesting task that doesn’t require much physical, but lots of mental and this I love.
Anyway enough ranting about silly things. I know their job is to sell magazines. Pictures of chemo or radiated or double mastectomied women no matter how much we are used to looking at ourselves does not sell magazines. At this point though I don’t buy them anyway. So if I can’t even find the date that the first African American woman was featured on Good Housekeeping’s front cover since it’s first release in 1885, they have a long way to go before a fifty two year old self confident formerly radiated newly mastectomied and reconstructed mama, entrepreneur, friend anointed Wonder Woman and self proclaimed inner beauty advocate gets her time in their sun. Thank goodness I create my own.
October 1965 the year I was born. Glad to see GH focus was 120 ways to please a man with their special section on food, beauty and most importantly homemaking. Guess Cosmopolitan’s Helen Gurley Brown’s influence was starting to permeate even the most wholesome of magazines.