Diana Dares

Foiling Chicanery with Boundless Intelligence, Fashionable Outfits, Moxie, and One Sporty Blue Roadster.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

...and the Predicament of the Pedestrian Periodical

Your intrepid girl detective is now on summer vacation!! Or what feels like summer vacation -- she keeps sternly reminding herself that this time is most certainly NOT vacation, but rather time to get in shape, learn to surf, catch up on writing, and fix up her apartment. No free time here!

But one of the loveliest upsides to working in television is that we do get a proper summer vacation. Downside: it may be more than just a vacation. One may end up never employed again. And one must suffer through agonies of nerves while figuring out which scenario is actually occurring.

But for now, it is sunny and I am on vacation (thinking optimistically) and I am getting to catch up on glossy magazines as I watch the cats stalk a floating leaf outside. The leaf won this battle, confusing both of them by floating along and then changing tactics and lying still, at which point they each lost track of the leaf, despite the fact that it was still lying in front of them. Out in the open. Not moving. Not hidden by anything. Plain sight. Only object around for yards and yards. Lying exposed on the cement. Confounded them both completely -- their ancestors' hunting instincts may be pretty watered down in these two.

Anyway, I have found myself reunited with a certain In Style magazine. Ah, In Style, how I've missed you.

In Style is a truly terrible magazine. My heroine, Tina Fey, basically tells it as much to its face (to its pages?) when she describes Jane Krakowski's character on her show 30 Rock with the following: "Her character, Jenna, would read In Style because she would want to know what restaurants Nicollette Sheridan likes in Aspen." Awesome. And yet, even as I appreciate the veiled shot, I realize that 2 pages earlier I was excited that a wine bar I'd just gone to was listed as one of the 5 Things on Our Radar This Month. (Tangent #1: the place was Cube -- a wine bar that has 65 different kinds of cheese, which is both a) clearly a genius idea for a restaurant, and b) not necessarily a surefire hit in LA. Wisconsin, Chicago, Florida, North Carolina, Idaho --sure. There people are sensible about calories and the embracing of dairy products. No brittle bones for us!!)

Anyway, that whiplash effect of "ha, Tina Fey mocks you and I mock along with her!" to "oh, yay I'm cool and trendy...just like Owen Wilson!" in under .6 seconds really sums up my relationship with the magazine. On one hand, a magazine that featured beauty, fashion, home decor and entertaining via celebrity tastes, or more accurately, celebrities' publicists' assistants tastes, as they fill out forms complete with quotes from Emmy Rossum on her favorite perfume ("Shalimar -- warm, romantic, and timeless. I can imagine Rita Hayworth wearing this.") or Jennifer Love Hewitt on Italian pasta ("I love pasta! I could never be one of those girls who swears off carbs!") -- see, I could totally write their fake entries -- is a surefire idea, one so obviously perfect it's amazing it didn't happen sooner. On the other hand, embracing that idea without irony is idiocy. If celebrity watching has taught us anything, and of course, it has, it's that celebrities become celebrities because of their unerring sense of taste, style, and decorum.

Anyway...so it's both irresistible and complete garbage. What tips it into the unmissable category for me, though, are the little jewels scattered throughout that I dearly want to believe are intentional, but fear are not. They were particularly abundant in the early days of the magazine.

The first time I picked up an issue of In Style, I truly believed it was an elaborate joke from the editors of The Onion. What better way to blow a trust fund than on one incredibly perfectly satirical joke? It was all there -- Pierce Brosnan's opinion on candles, a non-ironic monthly feature called "I Want It, I Need It, I Have to Have It Now!", and some of the best worst magazine writing on the planet. It all sounded like it'd been written by a high school yearbook staff in its 17th straight hour of writing captions for candid photos. The required spring nautical look photos were always captioned "Anchors Aweigh!", and Gwyneth's Oscar dress would be featured with the caption "In the Pink!" The tone regarding celebrities bordered on the reverential -- it was like something out of a 1940's fan magazine, pure Hedda Hopper.

But as the magazine's popularity mushroomed -- I think it's the most successfully launched magazine ever, so my in-the-know publishing-type friends say -- they got that "pretend to be insanely insipid and then slip a genius bitchy remark or quote in" habit under control, and now it's the equivalent of your friend who used to go bar-hopping with you and pick up random guys and go home with them despite your loud, vocal objections who recently got married and now wears head-to-toe Ann Taylor. It had to happen, I understand why it happened, but it makes me sigh a bit for the days of old. However, even in the new grown-up version of In Style magazine, some gems survive.

I have a theory as to why. I believe there are two types of women/gay men at In Style Magazine: Magazine Bitches and The Subversives. Magazine Bitches believe in their magazine and its manifesto. They are responsible for the eye-rollingly bad stuff, like this question from the You Asked column:

"Jamie-Lynn Sigler's makeup always looks polished but still natural. What does she use?" Am I to believe anyone other than Ms. Sigler, her publicist, or the Chanel publicist/marketing team (turns out it's their Lip Rouge in Desirable lipstick keeping her polished but natural) submitted this question? Has anyone anywhere even thought that, much less decided to write it down on a piece of paper, locate an envelope, look up an address, find a stamp, and mail it in to a magazine in hopes of a reply?

They are also responsible for the insistence throughout the magazine that Halle Berry's body (voted as best overall hot body, which, agreed) is achieved through 30 minute workouts 5 times a week. Secrets not mentioned: great genetics, not eating, the high metabolism that being crazy generates, and lying about how much she works out.

Magazine Bitches are also always responsible for the tiresome "pro-body" messages which nobody believes -- in this issue, it's right at the beginning of the Hollywood's Best Bodies article:

"In a world of shrinking models and dubious diet fads, it's easy to believe that your body isn't good enough. Wrong! Sexy and gorgeous are no longer the domain of only a certain dress size -- all body types are beautiful. The women on the following pages offer proof."

The women? Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Cameron Diaz, Scarlett Johannsen (the "curvy" entry), Heidi Klum, Jessica Alba, Demi Moore, Sheryl Crow, Reese Witherspoon (winner of the "better than ever" award -- yikes. really? She needed to lose 15 lbs due to depression? If you say so), and winning the "body confidence" prize (aka the Brave Fatty Award), Jennifer Hudson. Fantastic diversity, guys. I guess all body types really are beautiful.

I know it's a womens' magazine. It's by definition a frienemy. But...Come. On. We both know what's going on. I will give one million dollars to the first glossy womens magazine that quits pretending that it wants me to feel good about my body. How about a marketing campaign of "We'll be happy with it when you're happy with it; in the meantime, here are some pictures of Jessica Biel's smoking hot ass. Guess Seventh Heaven's actual, for real, absolutely not joking this time cancellation really lit a fire underneath her, didn't it?"

Something like that would be the work of The Subversives.

The Subversives work at In Style because it's a good job in an industry they like which provides an enjoyable lifestyle, but recognize that their work contributes to the decline of America and accept this duality head on. And they try to fight it just a little bit -- one grain of sand at a time. It makes me feel better knowing they're there, sending me secret messages in each issue, like American POWs sending coded messages to their comrades in photos taken by their captors. (My friend and I aspire to be the trickiest of all these noble types, Subversive Editors-in-Chief, when we launch our wholly ironic magazine for Sean Combs, entitled Diddy. Watch for it on newstands soon. It's going to be very sexy.) In the meantime, In Style can tide you over. The May issue, in addition to Tina Fey mocking their magazine's stated purpose openly, contains the following:

- a highlighted quote from Sharon Stone, in response to whether she works out: "Do I exercise? I have a 7-year-old, a 2-year-old, and an 11-month-old!" Wow. Really? First of all, come on Sharon, technically YOUR NANNY has a 7-year-old, a 2-year-old, and an 11-month-old. Secondly, I'm presuming these are all adopted, in which case, sweet Jehosephat, who gave Sharon Stone a child, and then allowed her to come back for more??!! Wait, Brett Ratner doesn't have a couple too, does he? Even with Mother Theresa and Gandhi listed as her nannies, I'd be reaching for my giant red "REJECTED. OH HEAVENS, SO...SO...SO REJECTED" stamp for that adoption application. Honestly, how bad can a Romanian orphanage/bottom of a well in rural China be? I'd take my chances, kid. I also love pondering the fact that in the current celebrity adoption flurry, Sharon's purchases have gone relatively under the radar, which makes me suspect that somewhere out there is a Pat Kingsley-type publicist who has cut a couple bitches to prevent any such attention being drawn to Sharon Stone's parental status, which leads me to muse that there must be some Joan Crawford-level gloriousness taking place. I can't wait for fifteen years from now when we hear about it!

- another highlighted quote from Maroon Five's Adam Levine, about his Hollywood Hills house which was clearly decorated by the same person who does all the newly-minted celebs' houses -- midcentury furniture - check, cowskin rug - check, egg chair - check. The quote: "Oh yeah...there have definitely been some legendary times here." Oh my god, he is such a fucking tool. I am shocked he ever gets laid, I really am. I want to have a meeting with all women everywhere and just go all Trojan Women on L.A. douchebags. This is more important than ending a war, girls -- this is about ensuring that Matt Leinart, Brody Jenner, that guy from Laguna Beach who keeps punching everyone, and Adam Levine understand their place in the universe, and the only way to communicate that is by making sure they never ever ever ever get the kitty again.

(granted, a lot of the genius of the subversive In Style employees must now rest in the perfectly chosen quote, which I realize is as much the celebrity's doing as the interviewer's. But they're really good at getting them. And they really know which ones to highlight!)

- a swimsuit in the requisite "find the right swimsuit for you!" article (Tangent #2: Honestly, fuck this article. It's in every magazine every year, it's always the same, and it's always wrong. First of all, it's the article equivalent of the Vogue Body Issue: four non-existent problems and then the "lower body/minimize thighs" one that every female reads. Skinny girls don't worry about bathing suits -- one of the benefits of being skinny; Busty or curvy? Great, you can show off the boobs, but you're still worried about your thighs. Tall? Not a body shape, and you're probably still worried about your thighs. Petite? Worried about your thighs. Long torso? Short torso? Worried about your thighs. Why won't someone just once have an article called "Oh for pete's sake, either get in shape, get a sarong, or become a surfer and wear longish board shorts -- those are the options!") This year, In Style's subversives have gotten downright diabolical, suggesting to the pear-shaped among its readers that they put on a one-piece nude and black color-blocked/horizontal-striped suit. It's in the lower left, p 210, if you're playing along at home.

Wow. Horizontal stripes with nude-colored flattening material over the bust? Just because you're subversive doesn't mean you're not catty catty bitches. This is even meaner than two summers ago when you thought it'd be funny to suggest I wear boy short bottoms just to see if I would wear unflattering shorts that cut a straight line across the widest part of my thighs. However, I had a mirror and eyes and was able to recognize a subversive's perverse joke when I came across them. Like, for instance, this swimsuit. And since I am on the same side of the subversives, I can enjoy watching hippy women across America donning horizontally-striped color-blocked suits and chortle along.

Okay, it's a little mean. But still, not a bad trick. Way to go anti-fake-pro-body. I salute you, subversives at In Style magazine.


  • At 8:47 AM, Blogger Mandie said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 8:49 AM, Blogger Mandie said…

    "Brody Jenner, that guy from Laguna Beach who keeps punching everyone"

    First of all, Brody Jenner was never on Laguna Beach, he is on The Hills.

    And he has never punched anyone...

  • At 11:47 PM, Blogger Diana Dare said…

    Brody and "that guy from Laguna Beach who keeps punching everyone" are two different people.

    Both in a list, separated by commas.

    I was not defaming Mr. Jenner. Merely wishing that he never got laid again until he undouched.


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