Discover more from My Goodness! From Jo Elvin
In which I review a random old issue of Glamour
Don't cancel me please, I have a lot on this week.
The room that houses our Peloton also features floor to ceiling shelves stuffed with magazines. What might surprise you is that most of them - years and years of Vogues, Vanity Fairs, Esquires, Rolling Stones and even rarer things like John Kennedy Jr’s (boring, sorry) politics magazine, George - are my husband’s. Of course there’s a pile of Glamour mags on there, though only a handful. The bulk of those are stored in the attic for god knows what reason. Ross talked me out of binning the lot when I was smarting from being let go, but I still don’t really know what to do with them all.
So for this Substack, I thought I’d lift one of the randoms off the shelf in the Peloton room and have a look through. I’ve decided to bravely take you on a tour with me and see how much of it I’m still happy with and how much of it makes me want to cringe. I plucked this one at random, July 2002. This means it would have hit the newsstands in late May 2002: I don’t know why magazines always came at our times bearing no relation to the date on their cover and we’re not supposed to ask, OK? Here goes:
The cover star as you can see, above, is Halle Berry. Decent get if you ask me, and, factoring in our lead times, we’d have got her fresh from her history-making Oscar win. I had nowt to do with that strangling orchid. I assume it was fashionable.
One thing that strikes me when I look at old issues of Glamour: We were too body-obsessed and that’s apparent on this cover. I’ve written before about how I genuinely at one time believed things like ‘Love Your Body’ specials were a positive message. Looking back I do wish we’d been enlightened enough to just let bodies be bodies. We can’t even resist mentioning Halle Hoovers in her G-string, good grief. But that was the thing with cover lines - try to be informative but also a little playful and intriguing. Come on, you want to know why she Hoovers in her G-string, right? And remain calm because we will answer the burning question - what is every man’s no 1 sex worry? - in good time. But right now, this raises some questions:
Who is that??
I think this would have been the last time in history I wore lipstick. I wish it was the last day for that haircut but sadly I was six years from finding my saviour, George Northwood.
In this editor’s letter, I’m telling you how impressed we all are with ourselves for getting a journalist, the brilliant Rose George, into Afghanistan to speak to women after the fall of the Taliban. And well, I was proud to have done that story: so often people even within the company assumed the magazine was about nothing but ‘silly things about orgasms’ as a colleague once said to me.
I’m furious with myself for not putting the Afghanistan story on the cover instead of the thing about G-strings. But in all honesty, I suspect we all know that the bigger selling cover lines won the day. When I read this story now, it just breaks my heart. We really all believed the Taliban were gone for good. Interesting that I describe the beauty salons that Afghan women congregated in as ‘trivial’. Because we now know, since the Tailiban returned to power, that they’re systematically banning salons because they damn well know how important they are for the power and mental health of women. We actually hosted an editorial team from the Afghanistan title, Women’s Mirror at the time. I wonder what’s become of them.
Colours that can save your life? Never did shy away from an over-promise:
‘I was an undercover beauty queen’. Yeah I still wanna read the hell out of this.
‘The shape of your relationship’:
This was definitely my favourite kind of relationship feature: a bit of introspection that was also a little bit of fun (a quiz!) and a nice helping of relating our real life relationship situs to that of the favourite celebrities of the day. Wow, look at all those couples we’d forgotten were couples. I’m guessing we really need to be aiming for our relationships to be ‘the A frame’, right? (If you’re pinching and zooming on the quiz, you need your answers to be mostly green to get that result).
Could your relationship survive infidelity?
Another ol’ fave move of mine: don’t give a definitive answer, have a ‘great Glamour debate’ and then let the reader decide who she agrees with. Though did I really let writer Emma Forrest say this about Woody Allen"? ‘That he is still with Soon-Yi (and that they have two children) is testament to the fact that even the most scandalous affair is worth the risk and can lead to the most stable love.’
Flat out fabulous
Ah the good old days when a super pricey pair of designer shoes was ‘only’ around £200. Would still wear all of these.
7 days of the chic
So I’ve always been partial to the whole weekonawall vibe. And a pun-tastic headline. So what if it left a big weird space because it was so short? Or that there ain’t much ‘chic’ on that spread at all, particularly Monday’s heinous collar situation.
Boho fever really had us all in a chokehold back in those days, didn’t it?
But honestly I think this Bodyform ad tells you more about the 2002’s strongest look:
Films. Our ‘must see’ is a film that I don’t remember ever hearing a thing about. I suppose a few people did see little Spiderman film.
Body confidence special
If I was still editing today I’d be committed to eradicating the whole conversation. That said, I’m relieved to see I’d still stand by most of this feature, whose main advice chimes with that, ie stop obsessing about it. ‘Talk about shoes, politics, work, men - anything but how many tortilla chips you’ve eaten’ or ‘I haven’t had scales in my house since I was 21,’ says Anita, 35. However I do wish the same piece didn’t also feature the sentence ‘only compare when you can win’. No, don’t compare. Just don’t.
The Glamour List
This was always one of my favourite pages. We’d write it as a group with our tongues firmly in our cheeks. But this one, on wedding etiquette, all seems like straight up good advice to me.
There is no way I could showcase here everything in this one, 262-page issue. I’m not going to mark my own 21-year-old homework, but that was a fun slice of nostalgia. Maybe I’ll do another one some time.
Oh and ‘his number 1 secret sex fear’ was apparently being compared to your former, better lovers. I know you were hanging out for that one.
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