There Is No Such Thing As A Women’s Magazine

I remember when Roberta Myers wrote about this in one of her editor’s letters; I tried to track it down when I was writing about Cosmo last month but thought it was lost in the Internet void. Not so!

Where do you think women’s magazines are headed?

I actually have a lot of opinions about this. There are so many things that we do in Elle or even in Marie Claire or Vogue where a year later, you’ll see it in Time magazine, or you’ll see it in The New York Times. And you think: “The only reason you think this is news now is because you just decided to look at it.” But women’s magazines have been covering things like sexual health and reproductive rights and violence against women for a long time. It’s always interesting to me that there’s the “media” and “women’s media.” I’ve told this story before: I was invited to give a lecture at Columbia University, and I talked about the great stories that we did with amazing writers that we sent to these amazing places. At the end of it during the Q&A;, some guy raises his hand and says: “Wow, I had no idea that you did 10,000 words on Senator Obama. How do you feel about the fact that nobody reads it?” And I’m like, “Well, we have 20 million women who read that — that’s in the United States. We’re the largest syndicator of content in the Elle network of 45 editions. We have hundreds of millions of women around the world. I’m sorry that you think we’re nobody.” I think there’s an assumption — it’s so easily dismissed. We’re all lumped into the same category, but my reading is not the same as Good Housekeeping’s millions and millions of readers. It’s a different woman. Women are not all the same — even in our little slice of fashion. I think they [women’s magazines] are here for a while. I think fashion magazines have been shown to have longevity.

How do you feel about the fact that nobody reads it? “Nobody,” of course, referring to the 51% of the population Elle and other so-called women’s magazines are intended for. “Nobody,” to this young man, meant that if he didn’t see it, it must not exist. This has been your regular reminder that the distinctions between publications is one that serves advertising demographics, not readers, and buying into that myth just means you’re probably missing out on some good reading, ok bye!