August 12, 2018


Whether it was toxic shock syndrome, Emergen-C or breast reduction surgery, chances are you've read about the care and keeping of you in a women’s or teen magazine.

This week, Clipped is talking bodies, wellness and health in women’s media, in light of the recent, widely read piece on Goop, the newsletter-turned-empire created by Gwyneth Paltrow. Love Goop or hate it, women’s media has been giving readers science-lite lifestyle advice for over a century — at least in part because science, medicine and the government have had few better answers.  

Anyway, it’s August, it’s really hot, and I, like G.P., smoked one cigarette this week :/ I will end this note with a favorite line from Call Your Girlfriend podcasters Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow: “If you have a body, you have a summer body.”

xx Natalie

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1941 Woman's Day ad 
who is at our service?

In a golden age of service journalism, you’d think health advice in women’s magazines could be thriving. But that is not always the case, often for good reason, in a callout-heavy culture. In 2015, Vox published the headline “8 reasons women’s magazines are bad for your health.”  The following year, Mic called women’s magazine health tips “sexist,” and Gizmodo had no time for Women’s Health’s 2017 cover shoot with G.P.

The root of our angst over women’s health advice only recently seems to be shifting in a more critical and productive direction. And it's much graver than the debate over whether supplements are a scam. Several recently published books, including “Ask Me About My Uterus” by Abby Norman and “Sick” by Porochista Khakpour have illuminated the lack of scientific information about illness and disease that affect women, and how many women feel deeply uncomfortable or unseen by their own doctors.

The lack of reliable information and standards for treating problems that are as old as humanity is, well, unsettling. It’s chilling to read that doctors only this year ruled menstrual cramps as painful as heart attacks. Investigative pieces in mainstream outlets have shown that it’s more life-threatening to give birth in the U.S. than in any country in the developed world, and that a trip to the OB-GYN can be geographically impossible or dangerous for large populations of American women. Last month, the journalists Mona Chalabi and Mae Ryan published a gorgeous how-to video on breast self-exams after Chalabi couldn’t find any helpful information online following a breast cancer scare. In 2018!

All of this evidence can make women's health, like women's media, feel sort of like an afterthought. It's reasonable to expect that editors might learn that publishing junk science — or failing to cover certain issues at all — could wind up as a Twitter moment or digital media headline, hurting a publication's credibility. But if large swaths of science, medicine and media aren't looking out for our bodies... who is?

if the .. publication fits

Ladies’ Home Journal
: 1883
Woman's Day: 1937
Essence: 1970
Self: 1979
Shape: 1981
Women’s Health: 2005
Goop: 2008

Many of us simply want better information on living in the bodies we already have. And when publishers seem to have a pulse on subjects and angles that challenge and embolden both their readers and the broader culture,  the result can be pretty cool. Self Magazine, recognized this year alongside Mother Jones and the New Yorker for social media & digital innovation, published a widely read series in June against diet culture. By all intents and purposes, it was one of the few packages in addition to Racked's The Size Conversation, that recently generated a conversation online that people wanted to be part of.

As part of The Weight Issue, Self asked author Ijeoma Oluo to curate four pieces on topics such as body talk by Lindy West and how the eating regimens of people with chronic illness and disability have been co-opted by diet culture. In addition, Self regularly publishes the fantastic "Ask A Swole Woman?" column by competitive powerlifter Casey Johnston that previously ran on the Hairpin (RIP). One of Swole Woman's greatest hits "Does Nothing Taste As Good As Skinny Feels?"
featured this line: "It is impossible to live in society as a woman and not second-guess the very food you put in your mouth or each individual inch of your exterior."

What media focusing on health & wellness do you trust and value — or are you having none of it? Send us a message.

Ad for pap smears in 1973 Ladies' Home Journal
in other magazine news
  • Condé Nast is selling three magazines (W, Golf Digest and Brides) after reportedly losing $120 million in 2017. Rumors of Anna Wintour’s departure from Vogue also have raised brows and questions about the company's future.
  • Speaking of departures, Hearst’s first-ever Chief Content Officer (and previous editor of Cosmopolitan & Marie Claire) Joanna Coles resigned. Can’t imagine what Coles, a legend, executive producer of Freeform’s The Bold Type and purveyor of the treadmill desk, will be up to next.
  • Hello, friend: In the Age of Trump, Ignore Women’s Magazines at Your Peril (Bloomberg, July 2018) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Have you seen all DEEZ?

new to CLIPPED? some past issues <3
An ad for One-A-Day vitamins plus Iron in 1967 Woman's Day: "Granted popping a pill isn't as glamorous as trying on a wild new shade of lipstick. But it's important. Face it."
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Thanks for reading, and hit us up! We want to know your memories with magazines, including what you loved and hated. And if you’ve never read a women’s mag, welcome. Send notes and scans:

Copyright © 2018 CLIPPED, All rights reserved.
Written by
Natalie Daher and Danielle Fox. Designed by Martina Ibanez-Baldor.
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