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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

In memory of She magazine

Regular readers will know I buy a lot of magazines. For the last few weeks I've been looking for one of my regulars, She magazine. Having realised I hadn't seen it for a long time, I Googled it and found it has been closed down.

This always makes me very sad, particularly when a magazine has been around for a long time (in She's case, 56 years). Invariably a new publisher takes over and decides to shut down a title. That's it, there is usually no last edition or requiem.

I first started reading She when I was very young and my mum occasionally bought it. In those days it was very different - the masthead looked a bit like Punch and it had quirky content, far removed from the usual women's magazines with their articles about preparing for summer/ Christmas and how to look younger. I bought a few copies from the 70s on ebay - here's an example (left). It was quite risque at the time, as you can see from some of the headlines. Notice how the model is slim but healthy looking.

The adverts were fascinating. Outdoor Girl cosmetics; Innoxa Solution 41 for spots; "Get More Out of Nursing" and "Nice girls don't drink Guinness." In one of my copies there is an advert for a new magazine launching soon - Cosmopolitan.

I imagine the reader then was a fairly bohemian woman with her own opinions who had probably stayed on a kibbutz and was an  early adopter of women's lib.

It wasn't long before a new editor was apppointed and the brief was "revolutionise" She and bring it up-to-date. So it became a lot more like any other women's magazine. The problem She always had was that it was unclear of its target reader and how to differentiate itself.

There were various attempts over the years. When Linda Kelsey (formerly of Cosmopolitan) became editor, she turned it into my least favourite version, the magazine for 'women who juggle their lives' aimed at young mothers.

Briefly there was a period when a male editor was apppointed and the magazine suddenly became sterile and soulless with "how to" articles and glossy cookery cards. How to have the perfect dinner party. How to remove stains. There was no emotional content whatsoever.

In its last gasp years, She had established a solid position where it occupied that glossy, aspirational but not too aspirational ground along with Red and Eve magazines (Eve was unfortunately closed a few years ago).

It had celebrity cover models, some with greater celebrity than others: Myleene Klass, Tess Daley...oh and Jennifer Lopez. The target reader was probably a youngish mother who also had a career, unlike the stay-at-home mother that it had targeted a few years earlier. The magazines had realised readers wanted some escapism, with articles about shopping, beauty and holidays, rather than choosing the best school or disposable nappies road tested.

Let's hope all the staff were given jobs on other titles, and let's raise a glass to a magazine that represented very well the different evolution of women in its 56 years.

3 comments:

Caroline said...

I've enjoyed reading She over recent years and was rather sad when it was closed down - it's an awful lot better than a lot of the utter trash being published these days, in my humble opinion.

Simon said...

Hi, I'm trying to find out what cartoon was in 'She' Magazine in the late 70's early 80's for my mum. It was a full page cartoon, possibly by an italian cartoonist (or the character may have had an italian sounding name)
Is there one in your older copies of the magazine or do you remember it?
Thanks in advance.

Simon

Jan said...

I too am trying to trace the cartoonist you mention - thought he was French - did you have any luck?

Jan

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