July 02, 2013

Dear Stylist Magazine

liz jones

an oxymoron

Dearest Stylist,

I am literally your biggest fan. After all, you were the first publication to publish an article of mine on your website as part of the ‘Reader’s Column’ section when I was 21 and petrified of London. This is where my love for writing was first born and for that I cannot thank you enough.

You are the voice of our generation. Wednesday’s have been re-coined ‘Stylist Day’ in my calendar, and every time it’s the same level of excitement to rip open the pages and see all the new things you help us readers to discover, be it fashion, advice, people or an article that reads like you are listening to a friend over a coffee. You are famous for picking strong inspirational women for your Work Life section and of course for the front cover.

Now, for the bad news.

I am really disappointed and confused at your recent decision to put Liz Jones on the cover. To me, this does not say ‘a strong powerful woman doing good in the world’, this says ‘let’s make a splash for the sake of controversy and to get our name out there’. You have sugar-coated her background as being “the UK’s most controversial writer”. I don’t necessary think this is truly reflective of her status or position within the media landscape. Laurie Penny is controversial, Helen Lewis is controversial, there are many controversial women writers out there, but the difference is they do not belittle people for shallow showbiz entertainment, with them it comes from a much meatier and healthier place.

Unfortunately it looks like you have stooped to the level of such lows as the Daily Mail ‘Side Bar of Shame’ to entertain your readers, as this of course is Liz Jone’s natural habitat and where we are used to finding her. Of course this is definitely not what Stylist is about. But I don’t understand at all this editorial decision and I feel it will probably be disconcerting for readers who have bought into your values and aspirations as a magazine. I hope you did not do this just for the sake of getting people talking. It just doesn’t seem on-brand. In a nut-shell, I guess I just feel a bit let down because you are definitely a cut above the rest. This is not to say I will stop reading Stylist (after all it really is the number one women’s weekly) but I do feel this deserves a heartfelt rant, because I feel disappointed in you.

As a high-circulating London women’s magazine it’s clearly important to take caution in determining which messages you are sending out. Stylist is known for supporting the positive iconic elements of being British and celebrating those who play a role in making modern day society a better place. This is why it seems jarring that a journalist who slated many strong successful  women is sat smiling on the front cover, proud of her accomplishments. Liz Jone’s recently published an article slating Pippa Middleton entitled ‘Kate’s sister can never get her outfit right’ with some of the most creatively cutting remarks I’ve ever read. She’s most recently branded Rihanna ‘a toxic pop princess’ and told Madonna to ‘give it a rest’ for being too old. Should you really be endorsing a journalist that continues to drag down and disrespect many other women so crudely and publicly?

Admittedly I cannot fault you for breaking boundaries. But I feel this decision is strangely hypocritical. Maybe it’s ironic, maybe it’s a statement: but the bottom line is Liz Jones is definitely not a role model.

Here are few reasons why, of the top of my head: She does not stick up for other women. Her need for tabloid fame comes at the expense of being liked. She is not an aspirational career woman. She is grabbing headlines by outright attention seeking. She is not changing the world for good. She is not passionate about things other than herself (or dissing the wardrobes and life choices of other women).

This seems so very far removed from your usual ethics. You have incredible journalists such as Lucy Mangan’s Outspoken column which so deservedly won her ‘Columnist of the Year’ at the PPA awards; you had Clare Balding, the perfect ambassador for passionately standing up for women’s sports; you had Caitlin Moran, Nigella, Lena Dunham, Michelle Obama, Tina Fey, J.K Rowling, Adele on recent covers. In your ‘Work Life’ section you’ve had women who worked in the Olympics, women from the fire brigade, tube drivers with children, female CEOs, book publishers, farmers, you name it, you’ve picked and celebrated the UK’s most inspiring women every time. But this decision goes completely in the opposite direction.

For these reasons, and because I feel quite strongly about it, I think I’ll be skipping this week’s read.

I will forgive you next week.

Emma x

  • You have made some good points but I don’t think Stylist is celebrating Liz Jones in some ways she has become her phenomenon. If everyone is talking about her at lunch breaks, social media and in their own blogs then surely that’s why she has made their cover? Her interview is really strange though.

  • I definitely take on board your point but I also read the Sunday Times magazine 3-page interview with her and it didn’t bother me, it was a really honest upfront article which didn’t glamourous her or sugar-coat anything, unlike this one. It was far from a big glossy photo-shoot covered in cats and heels. What annoys me I guess, is this is what Liz Jones wants, a big hoo-har about her fragmented career and her thinking she’s made it as a ‘Stylist girl’ makes me want to vom a little.

  • RedHead

    Interesting that you include the controversial Caitlin as a good example, given the negative things she’s said (her comments about women who wear high heels spring to mind). But I fully appreciate that compared to Liz she’s practically a saint. I found the interview incredibly bizarre – the interviewer herself seems very intelligent and picked a good series of questions – very probing. To me, Liz came across as someone either so deluded she should get professional help immediately or hiding behind it in a bid to avoid blame and keep cashing it in. Both disturbing and sad.

  • I am completely with you on that. The interviewer definitely knew what she was doing, but I didn’t really like that fact either, because it seemed like they were playing on vulnerabilities and madness which isn’t really what I thought Stylist were about. They also back her as a ‘good writer’ which is fine, but she shouldn’t really be put in the limelight as someone who has a successful career – she’s climbed the ladder in the worst way possible. So many of Stylists readers aspire to be writers, so I just think it gives the wrong sort of message.

  • I don’t think Liz Jones should be “gracing” the cover of anything before she herself either adjusts her attitude or gets some professional help.

  • We would definitely go with Adele and Tine Fey. You nailed your point, hope the magazine will listen!

    A visit from PinKixx (there will definitely more coming)

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