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Kudos to Chatelaine and Dove soap for recognizing that all women are beautiful

Different covers were released in different areas.

When I received the June/July 2019 issue of Chatelaine magazine in my mailbox this week I was a little taken aback—at first. Featured on the cover of the annual swimsuit issue (a cliché if there ever was one) is a full-bodied woman of indeterminate age wearing a coral-coloured swimsuit, a straw sunhat, and a huge smile. The more I thought about it and went through its pages, the bigger the smile grew on my own face. It takes courage for a major magazine to turn the tables on the media’s narrow definition of beauty.

Canada’s own Chatelaine magazine and Dove soap have joined forces to recognize that even though we’re not all six feet tall, blonde, blue-eyed and weigh less than a single maple leaf, we’re still beautiful. Dove has been running this campaign for many years. They’ve earned kudos for their marketing and women appreciate their efforts, but this is the first time I’ve seen a national magazine take it a step further.

Just as I was considering canceling my decades-long subscription to Chatelaine, they’ve totally redeemed themselves. I still prefer most of my mags in print version so I can rip pages out to save recipes or inspirational fashion pics. The spread on page 20-22 is a summary of book recommendations for summer which is always appreciated, especially when it includes Canadian authors. I like the way they’re categorized—Best Character, Best Dystopian Thriller, Best History Lesson and so on.

They’ve also included their Drugstore Hall of Fame picks for makeup, skin, body and hair care products. It’s always fun and somewhat reassuring to read what others are using and prefer, especially when we don’t have to lay out $400.00 for an eye cream. There are the usual fashion items, sensible advice on health issues and a Winners’ Spotlight on everyday household products preferred by Canadians. I haven’t had a chance yet to read the extensive piece about Chrystia Freeland written by Leah McLaren but it’s on my to-do list.

There’s plenty more great material in this issue but I don’t want to spoil all the fun for you. Do yourself and print publications a favour. Please pick up a newsstand copy of the June/July edition of Chatelaine. The cover appearing at your newsstand or grocery store may not be the same as mine as Chatelaine has published its June/July issue with a series of different covers featuring pictures real women can identify with and relate to. Imagine that! Show your support for their brave editorial step. It’s also a vote for a more diverse definition of beauty, something long overdue in media. Put the June/July 2019 issue of Chatelaine on your grocery list and pick up a copy while it’s still available.

 

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Kudos to Chatelaine and Dove soap for recognizing that all women are beautiful
Different covers were released in different areas.

How many e-readers are too many?

To E or not to E?

At the present time, in addition to being a voracious reader of hardcopy books, magazines and newspapers, I juggle several e-readers to meet my daily needs. Just like computer nerds who have multiple monitors flashing with activity on their desks, it takes several devices to satisfy my lust for the written word. The rationale compares to having multiple pairs of black shoes or a variety of purses (Boomer women can relate). Sometimes you like the comfy rubber soled walkers and other times you prefer the stack-em high stilettos that forsake comfort and performance for attitude.

I’ve been known to shoot smart phone users the evil eye as they thumb their devices in the company of friends at lunch or dinner. I’ve indiscreetly suggested that friends leave them in their purses when we’re lunching or catching up over a cup of tea. I rarely use my own cell phone and quickly become impatient with people who are constantly fiddling with theirs. But try to separate me from my iPad and I’d immediately suffer the DTs. I must confess, though, that I still prefer to read the newspaper in old-fashioned hard copy spread out on my kitchen table. With so many newspapers, magazines and other print publications being threatened with extinction, we have a responsibility to support print publication as much as possible. I’m certainly doing my bit with eighteen subscriptions per month.

Some British mags are just too delicious to wait for the hard copy, so e-subscriptions fit the bill

Since reading is my favourite thing in the world to do, I have totally embraced the digital world which offers unlimited access to nearly every word ever written. As the owner of two Kindles, two iPads and one Kobo I’m always just arm’s length from accessing my current library book, reference book or favourite British magazine that takes too long to reach our shores in hard copy.

A friend recently emailed to ask my opinion on the best e-reader as he was contemplating buying one. Since I’ve owned five, he felt I was somewhat qualified to have an informed opinion. My answer was the iPad mini because of its light weight and versatility. But that’s subjective and I certainly don’t want to diminish the merits and joy of reading on Kindle, Kobo or old-fashioned hardcover books. It’s just that e-readers have greatly reduced my burgeoning inventory of books needing literal shelf space and have saved me a ton of money by downloading from the public library or on-line retailers. E-readers are unbeatable for loading up several books when traveling. They’re convenient for carrying in your purse for a quick read while gobbling a burger and fries at Five Guys, or while getting a pedicure. There are so many options available. Take your pick but I highly recommend picking at least one. The way I read it, the more the merrier.

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Where are real women in the media?

The feminist perspective is relevant and slowly disappearing.
The feminist perspective is relevant but sadly it’s disappearing.

It’s a man’s world in the media. Earlier this year I wrote about SiriusXM radio cancelling my favourite women’s programs (The Judith Regan Show, What She Said and The Martha Stewart Channel, click here to read Sirius, we have a problem). I’m seriously fed up with Sirius and wish they paid more attention to their women listeners. Then, in April of this year my favourite magazine MORE (for mature women) ceased publishing due to lack of advertising revenue (click here for It’s time for some Boomer backlash). The dragnet is widening as Chatelaine and Macleans Magazines are reducing their frequency to bi-monthly and monthly respectively. And Canadian fashion mag LOULOU has ceased publication altogether.

It’s no secret that the advent of digital media has hurt print publishing. My daily newspaper is getting thinner and thinner. With print ad revenue diminishing in favour of on-line marketing, print publishers are laying off columnists and sourcing material from freelancers, shared news sources and, horrors, click-bait. That makes it harder for readers of any gender to enjoy exclusive, original, well-researched, intelligent material. Our information comes in the form of homogenized sound, print or on-line bytes. There are more sports channels on radio and television than I can count and while women have the ubiquitous HGTV option, our choices are painfully limited. It may surprise the men running media operations that women are interested in issues far beyond fashion, decorating, weight-loss and beauty tips. Women in the media is about more than pretty blondes with toned arms in sleeveless dresses reading the news. Women entrepreneurs and success stories have always been a subject of fascination for me but like great women world leaders, composers, artists, scientists and writers of centuries ago, these women and their accomplishments are buried in history, their stories never to be shared.

media1We’ve lost a number of print publications as well as radio and television programs. While the reasons cited are bottom-line related, it concerns me that quality programming for women is disappearing. I don’t know what the solution is. I already subscribe to more than a dozen magazines each month and heaven knows I support their advertisers by buying product but it doesn’t seem to be enough. It seems I’m constantly chasing diminishing sources of sharp, women-centric news and information but I feel like a dog chasing a car. I’ll never catch it and no one hears me barking. But I’ll keep doing it because I’m afraid I’ll get run over. Or perhaps I have already. Hello? Is anyone listening?

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‘Tis the season for the fashion fascists

It’s spring once more in the world of fashion. That means it’s the silly season—time for all the fashion magazines to roll out their latest advice for the great unwashed, the poor, vulnerable idiots like me who consult their hallowed pages for inspiration. Remember last year when they all suggested we should be wearing saucy little rompers or Daisy Duke short shorts?

Ninety-four-year-old Iris Apfel demonstrates it's possible to be fashionable at any age by projecting your own style.
Ninety-four-year-old Iris Apfel demonstrates it is possible to be fashionable at any age, by projecting your own personal style.

Like millions of other women, I love poring over the glossy pages of Vogue, Elle and similar magazines. The colourful eye candy tantalizes and tempts but rarely convinces. At 568 pages, the March issue of Vogue was almost as hefty as their iconic September issue. The fact that Adele was featured on the cover gave me hope that those of us without stick-thin bodies might find something relatable within its covers. The fact that it was only a head shot of Adele with some gratuitous cleavage should have tipped me off that I was mistaken.

Here’s what the fashionistas are offering up this season:

  1. Off-the-shoulder ethnic blouses are being featured everywhere. Back in the fifties, we called them Mexican blouses. Imagine yourself in a bare-shouldered blouse with a flounce around the bust in cotton eyelet or a snappy print. If I tried that look, I’d resemble a fat, lumpy sack of flour.
  2. Baby doll skirts have not gone away. Nor have dresses with short flared skirts. I used to have nice legs, back when I still had a waist-line but those days have been replaced by saggy knees and lumpy inner thighs. Not conducive to short skirts. Forget that look.
  3. They're joking . . . right?
    They’re joking . . . right?

    On the subject of pants . . . remember gauchos a.k.a. culottes? Yep! The mags are once again trying to convince us they’re flattering. Maybe on Isaask Dinesen or Tarzan’s Jane, but not on anyone I know, young or old. Your choices are dumpy, dumpier or dumpiest. If you insist on buying culottes, pick a fabric that can be recycled into sturdy cleaning rags.

Pant lengths and widths are all over the place. That’s a good thing. Shoes are always fabulous and even though many aren’t meant for walking, size really doesn’t matter. Scarves, necklaces, earrings and other accessories can turn a plain basic outfit into something utterly fabulous without spending a fortune, and one size fits all. Combine these with cobalt blue eye shadow, pink hair extensions, black nail polish and dozens of new and improved skin care products guaranteed to make me look twenty years younger and twenty pounds thinner . . . how can I resist? It sounds too good to be true, and you know what they say about that.

Not gonna happen - ever!
Not gonna happen – ever!

But it’s still fun. Even though I can’t relate to ninety-nine percent of what is shown in fashion magazines, I still subscribe and read them cover to cover. It’s called eye candy for a reason. Certain publications like ELLE Canada and the June 2016 issue of LOULOU are to be commended for giving print space to women with normal bodies. For that reason I often prefer fashion spreads showing the clothing items laid out flat on the page in a “cut-out” style rather than on a totally unrelatable anorexic teen. Just sayin’.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty!
I feel pretty, oh so pretty!

I may no longer be a candidate for belly-baring crop tops, saucy short shorts or figure-hugging short spandex dresses, but this old boomer still loves fashion. If someone would just design fun, interesting fashion that cleverly disguises long-gone waistlines, upper arm jiggles and pug-faced knees, they’d make a fortune. Boomer Broads have the interest and the bucks. All we need is a supplier. Hello? Are you listening Michael Kors, Kimberly Mimran, Joe Fresh? Anyone?

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The September issue has arrived

The Eaton's catalogues were our small-town answer to the high fashion world of Vogue. The Christmas issue was particularly delectable.
The Eaton’s and Simpson’s catalogues were a small-town Boomer girl’s first peek into the world of fashion. The Christmas issue was always particularly delectable.

What Baby Boomer girl doesn’t remember the excitement during the fifties and sixties, when the new Fall/Winter or Spring/Summer Eaton’s and Simpson’s catalogues arrived? Growing up in a small town where we were lucky to make it to Peterborough a couple of times a year, those thick, delicious catalogues offered glimpses of clothes, shoes, jewelry and toys most of couldn’t afford but dreamed of possessing. We would endlessly pore over the pages of the latest fashions, planning wardrobes we would never own, but it was fun to fantasize. My girlfriends and I would even play “Order Office” in our basement. Our small town didn’t warrant an actual Eaton’s or Simpson’s store but we did have catalogue order offices where people would go to place an order from the catalogue or pick up merchandise. We loved to pretend we were grown up and working there, filling out all the official forms and handing over the goodies when they arrived.

Ambitious little girls grow up and get real jobs, yet their fantasies live on. That catalogue shopping fantasy still plays out each year with the September issue of Vogue magazine. Packing an impressive eight hundred-plus pages, the September issue is today’s fancy grownup version of Eaton’s and Simpson’s catalogues and mine arrived this week. The commercial significance of this annual fashion touchstone is such that it even inspired a documentary a few years ago about all the work, creativity and personalities involved in producing it.

If only. Costing the equivalent of a small car, I can only dream of sugar plums like this Carolina Herrara number.
Costing the equivalent of a new bathroom, I can only dream of sugar plums like this Carolina Herrara number. On me it would probably look like a bathrobe.

Sadly, I have neither the body nor the budget for the majority of the merchandise shown in the September issue—or any issue for that matter. Instead of uplifting and inspiring me, it depresses me. Valentino, Armani or Chanel are simply not designed for commoners like me. Who wouldn’t love to see themselves running through a pristine forest in that gorgeous Fendi coat wearing those yummy Prada loafers. I only wish my lifestyle and body were conducive to wearing that incredible pink and blue plaid wool tweed Carolina Herrara coat and skirt set. Talk about visions of sugar plums. But, alas, I’m just a normal person with an average body and a practical budget.

I realize the purpose of fashion magazines is not to duplicate the clothing and accessories displayed on their glossy pages, but to inspire us to modify and adapt a look, or perhaps visit the store or website of one of the advertisers. It’s frustrating that my tastes and preferences no longer count. After all, as a Baby Boomer, I represent a huge demographic with sizeable spending power. But it’s very hard for us to find inspiration in stick-thin teenaged models who have been Photoshopped to be even thinner and taller with more perfect skin and hair than God herself ever envisioned. It was reassuring to see ads in the September issue with affordable items from our own Hudson’s Bay (featuring their Lord & Taylor line), Land’s End, and J. Crew. I particularly commend Target for their imaginative fashion pages printed on quality paper featuring reinterpretations of vintage Vogue spreads. That was avante-garde, creative and relatable. Full marks to whoever pulled that concept together.

Is it just me or is the cover of Vogue's September issue totally uninspiring?
Is it just me or is the cover of Vogue’s September issue totally uninspiring?

Jeanne Bekker recently wrote about Marla Ginsburg who created her own line of affordable and comfortable clothing for Baby Boomer women because she couldn’t find anything on the market that addressed her changing body and style issues. Her website is marlawynne.com. Chico’s is the mature lady’s answer to Le Chateau but I still prefer the exquisite fit of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. I recently bought a pair of pants by Lisette of Montreal that were lovely.

Zoomer magazine has acknowledged the lack of attention paid to our demographic by the fashion industry. Perhaps Moses Znaimer could get in touch with Joe Mimran or his missus, Kimberley Newport-Mimran who own the Joe Fresh and Pink Tartan lines (I doubt they’d take my calls), to see if they could come up with something for us. His connections are far better than mine.

Nearly sixty years have passed since I first started my love affair with the beautiful fashions displayed in the Eaton’s and Simpson’s catalogues. Back then, I would envision myself in their beautiful clothes; not so with Vogue or most other fashion magazines. Where is Iris Apfel when we need her? There’s plenty of eye candy but a dearth of inspiration for Boomers like me who are regarded as old, fat and irrelevant. The fashion industry continues to ignore us. It’s like loving someone who doesn’t love you back. And there’s no reward in that.

 

 

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We’ve been published – again

My recent blog about how much I enjoyed the March issue of ELLE Canada was the result of how relevant and well-written their articles were that month. The March issue was dedicated to feminism which is a subject dear to my heart and I appreciated their coverage. So I wrote them a fan letter—actually I sent them a copy of my blog posting (You can’t always judge a magazine by its cover) and they printed an excerpt as their “best” letter on the May 2015 issue.

If you subscribe  to ELLE Canada or wish to pick up a copy, you’ll find my letter at the top of page 40 as the month’s best letter. I’m a subscriber and I always enjoy this bit of Canadian eye candy, which you can pick up at any drugstore or grocery store. Here’s a link: http://ca.zinio.com/reader.jsp?issn=elleca-123&o=int

 

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