An Open Letter to Elle Magazine

I am a freelance editor and researcher for the biggest reference book company in the world. It’s not steady and doesn’t pay much but it’s one of the things I do to survive. The other is housecleaning, or untouchables to you. Part of my freelance job is generating a list of 20 new words a month. They asked that I cover the fashion genre, since I thought I enjoyed it.

They told me I could have any subscription I wanted. I chose Elle because I thought the writing was a cut above the norm and it wouldn’t bore me to death.

I was wrong—about both the writing and the content. Who the hell is this magazine for? I don’t know one single person who could relate to any fashion or celebrity spread in this obsequious piece of photoshopped shit. At first I was excited, now I dread the chore of reading it and wait until the last possible moment before recoiling from every page. The articles are worse than shallow, they encourage idolatry of the impossible.

When you say some piece of worthless frippery is “only $300” you are speaking to the tiny percentage of Americans who don’t desperately need that $300 to get through another week of unemployment, bottom-of-the-barrel jobs, and the accompanying depression that goes with it.

I just finished May 2011’s issue and it was the worst one yet. On page 24, I read:

At Alexander Wang’s new SoHo boutique, white marble floors and black leather furniture offer a clean-lined backdrop for the designer’s relaxed-luxe ready-to-wear, shoes, and bags. Stock up on layerable summer staples, or just hang out in the store’s fox fur hammock.

Do you people have no soul? Do you really believe a fox fur hammock is so edgy and cool that you actually print a picture of it, so some spoiled rich twit can plunk her skinny plastic ass in it after a tough day of designer shopping?

Page 307: A model is wearing a wool coat $3,275, wool pants $1,125, sunglasses $295, sweater $425, turtleneck $25, silver cuff $275, rings $175-$240, belt $375, suede bag $1,175. The worst part? The fur stole, price on request. That’s $7,200 without the fur stole, so figure around ten grand on her back. If I had even half of that, I’d pay my back taxes, get the glasses I desperately need, see a dentist, take my dogs to the vet, buy a used stove, get my car fixed, and do something about this high blood pressure.

And you consider yourselves so eco-chic. More like eco-bullshit. I can’t imagine the waste you must generate along with the cruelty. You make me sick, sick, sick. Like celebrities and politicians, you couldn’t be more disconnected from real life.

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25 responses to “An Open Letter to Elle Magazine

  1. Hahahahahaha… sorry to laugh. It’s not at your disgust, but rather from imagining the poor dumbass’s face who reads this.
    Hahahahaha. Great letter that I’m sure is long overdue.

    • All the letters to the editor they print in the front of the magazine are naturally of praise and adoration. I’m sure they’ll never see this, but I should email it to them. I will. It’s upset me for days now. They won’t care though, the fracking robots. Thanks for comment!

      • I think that if they received a few thousand of letters like yours a month they may reconsider their approach. A journey of a thousand miles starting with the first step is also a full inbox starts with the first e-mail. Lol.

  2. MMMMMMMAHAHAHAHA!! You go girl, wow, you socked it to them. Eco-conscious with fox fur, oh yeah, that makes sense. I used to read their Elle Decor magazine and most of the items would cost me my mortgage to purchase. My feeling is that the only thing these mags serve to do is at least show the trends and then you can go to TJ Maxx or Joyce Leslie or Target and buy cheapo knockoffs and get the same look. The readership theyre pitching to is not the vast majority at least at the moment. Good on ya for letting them have it. Maybe we can raise funds to purchase subscriptions for the tornado-survivors in Alabama.

    • Ha ha Ann, that’s what all these poor souls who’ve just seen their homes blown away and lost their family and pets need, a bloody subscription to this vile rag. That oughta give them hope.

      I understand about trends. But these clothes are unwearable in almost any venue I can think of except maybe lunch at Four Seasons.

  3. Indigo Spider

    I am aghast by the fox fur hammock. I am so glad I did not see this, that you did not include the picture, because the thought horrifies me — I don’t want the image stuck in my head.

    It is truly sad that there are people who still fork over money for magazines like this. As Scribbla said, I laughed not at your anger but at the image of the poor dumbass’s face who reads this great, long overdue, spot on letter! You should mail it to them! Ha!

    • I will email it to them, but I suspect I’m not the only one who’s disgusted. I can’t believe the younger version of myself used to read this crap, although I have written written letters about the use of fur all my life. They don’t get it.

      But the fox hammock is a new low. It’s not that it exists, because those kinds of products always will. It’s the fashion magazines’ pandering to the designers who make them, and setting an example to millions of ignorant dimwits that it’s sexy and hip. I hate them so much.

  4. “obsequious piece of photoshopped shit” Oh My Gawd. I laughed out loud. As Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning-bug.” Awesome! Enjoyed the whole piece.

  5. And people wonder why young girls do what they do, feel what they feel and try to look the way they do. It’s a photoshop world where size 0 is worshipped and…. buy, buy, buy or you ain’t nothing at all. I could go on but don’t want to push my buttons any more than they are already.
    P.S. Hope you don’t mind me saying this but you are ‘cute’ when you rant. 🙂

    • These magazines sure do their part to make the average person feel like a loser. Even the makeover sections are ridiculous—the women are already beautiful. Yup, size O with size 14 lips. Giant heads which are bigger than their waists. I guess this is where the little girls with padded bras head when they reach puberty. You’re cute too Char, thanks for writing.

  6. I have heard of this magazine, though I don’t recall ever picking it up and glancing through it. Did a quick Wikipedia search in a effort to understand. Now I can say with confidence, that those who created it, who maintain the sum twenty web sites in elle’s name would think of me as pathetic in my thoughts and in my life style. Am just not luxurious. Hell, this very moment am sitting in my grey comfy sweats and warm bright red hoodie. I may be pathetic, but am distinctively, an uniquely me and in good company – that is apparent from your story and the subsequent comments. Now I have to go and pick my ensemble for tomorrow =painter pants or blue jeans, black shirt or will I throw caution into the wind an top it off with a apricot cotton shirt.

  7. Hi Hudson—hey at least you get dressed.

    What’s so fucked up about these magazines is that they claim to “empower” women, but they do anything but. I’m surprised there are so many of them and that they stay in business during these hard times without changing their format. Thanks for looking the magazine up and learning about another blight on our culture. Oh, and blue jeans and black shirt? Hot.

  8. Hi Debra: I’ve thought over this for a few hours so here goes hoping I don’t lose your friendship: I think we have to allow that in a democracy there will be different levels of wealth — however much we may decry it — and as many magazines are demographic specific then it follows that these magazines will disengage those in another demographic. I too long for a more equal world and yes I am disgusted by extravagance esp when it involves the exploitation of animals [ if we are talking ‘real’ fur ] but I believe these magazines have their place , that in a democracy they have a right to be produced and read ; they also have the responsibilty to hear alternative viewpoints

    I hope you don’t ‘write me off’ over this but these are my thougts

    • In fashion magazines, when it’s not real fur, they specifically call it “faux fur” but this is fox fur, the real thing. I am resolutely against farming animals for fur. I’m not a vegetarian, I buy a chicken now and then, and every single bit of it gets used. I can’t stand waste, and that’s what these mags promote. These are people who bring their little canvas bag to the grocery store because it’s cool but then throw away the food after they’ve taken a few bites. When they use a dog as a prop in the pictures, it’s ALWAYS a purebred designer dog.

      Sure there are different levels of wealth, I’m not into communism. But these magazines are influential gauges of culture and millions of people read them, not just the wealthy. My philosophy has always been that each of us is obligated to leave the world a better place than we found it. And the average young person who reads these are easily influenced by trends. I honestly think they do more damage than good. It was the “celebration” of fur in this magazine that sent me over the edge.

  9. fa-cade: a false, superficial, or artificial appearance or effect…smoke and mirrors are the tools of their trade.

    Blue jeans and a black shirt is hot. Ha, am proof that is not always the case. If I lived in a warmer climate I would wear much less -guess am a ‘form meets function’ dresser.

    • Come to AZ, land of flip-flops, shorts, and tank tops. Where I live, there’s a thrift shop every couple miles. I probably spend about $100 a year on clothes! And I do like pretty clothes, when I worked in an office I got dressed up, sort of. But now there’s no point, and there are very few places in the world where wearing expensive clothes wouldn’t be seen as ridiculous.

  10. These magazines cater to those who think they are rich but not. I consider my wife a fashionista, but she does her shopping at Target. She sounds like you when it comes to some of the photos in those mags. They’re like Hollywood, totally fake. You should send the letter. Too bad we all can’t be there to see the look on their pompous asses when it’s read.
    By the way…Here’s a word for you – Myrmidon
    Take care.

  11. Perfection is impossible when it comes to looks, and it depresses young women horribly. Sometimes you see a picture of an actress drunk or disheveled, and they look nothing like their photo spreads.

    Myrmidon—sounds like your basic terrorist. Good word.

  12. I will never, ever, in a million years, fathom how any use of dead animal fur, skin, or carcass can be considered chic. I thought we have evolved past cave people. Unfortunately, some of us have not.

    How repulsed would the public be to find a herd of wild cows wearing human skin jackets and boots? I already know the answer. Repulsed enough to slaughter them all.

    Kind of like when a hiker gets killed by a grizzly deep in the wilderness. We hunt down and kill the grizzly. Yes, it’s a horrible tragedy and a loss of human life. But does the grizzly need to die? Some would say yes, we can’t have that wild animal running loose! If he’s killed one human he might kill again! OF COURSE he will kill again. He’s a grizzly!

    I’m no saint. I’m a vegetarian but I now eat fish. I try to avoid buying leather shoes, but it’s hard, there’s not many options. But I keep telling myself I am doing the best I can do. I’ve stopped voicing my opinion on this subject because I’m either preaching to the choir or preaching to people who will never get it. But I do have to say, it is very uplifting to find others who do get it.

  13. Thanks for writing Kay. I think there are a lot of people who feel the same way but it’s not good for business, and business always wins. It’s the waste that bothers me the most when it comes to the meat business, and that people don’t understand the succession of horrible events that result in a steak. At least the cave people used the entire animal.

    I actually thought that fur had become unpopular. I get PETA magazine and they have a lot of celebrity support. When I lived back east people had stopped wearing it. So it’s disturbing to see it back. I would like to think that even the plastics who shop at these places would be disgusted to see this shameful exploitation of a creature. That’s why I’m so mad at Elle, they have power and are misusing it by groveling to designers who use fur.

  14. In any periodic publication, given the amount of advertizements such as it is in Elle or the like, it’s hard to take any stories or editorials or information serious from my perspective. If the impetus of the stories and materials is to be beneficial for the reader a magazine should, you would think, show some backbone and have a conscience when it comes to certain issues—be it fur to anorexia. Johnlmalone makes valid comments for the right reasons, these magazines do have their place, that said, there is no reason why they cannot be held accountable when the quest for the ‘dollar’ takes precedent over integrity. ‘An Open Letter to Elle’ calls into question their lack of integrity.

    Another great post ‘D’ an thoughtful comments. You always hit the nail on the head. So do you think you will send the letter or the link this page?

    By the way, I went with the painter pants and black shirt. Also, if I travel to Arizona I’ll be sure to pack my blond wig, tube top, my second hand sweats with the knees ripped out and my pink flip flops so I’ll fit in. My only question is this, “what colour of nail polish works in the desert?”

    (*disclaimer*….am kidding regarding my Arizona attire, am not a cross dresser just a smart ass)

    • I did e-mail the letter today, they have a contact section on their web page. I removed the part about the photoshopped shit and the eco-bullshit, because phrases like that have no place in a letter to the editor if you want to be taken seriously. I don’t expect them to take it seriously anyway, it’s not the first letter I’ve written regarding fur. Like Scribbla said above, it takes thousands of letters to matter.

      I added a sentence that they have the power of influence, and that is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. And I agree with you that they should be held accountable.

      I honestly don’t have a problem with rich people as long as they use some of their money to make the world better. If it weren’t for rich people I wouldn’t have houses to clean. The wealthy have choices that most of us don’t have, and to blow it all on self-obsession and waste makes them worthless in my book. Noblesse oblige. I have cleaned for wealthy people who when they order from a catalog and it doesn’t fit, throw it in the garbage. Too self-absorbed to even bring it to Goodwill.

      I think “Electric Sunset” is the nail polish you’re looking for. And yes you are a smartass, but a lovable one, so don’t change.

  15. Kudos to you for telling the god awful truth about these “let them eat cake” egotists. During these time, when so many suffer so much, I find it disgusting to flaunt in wealth. That 1% of our population controls 99% of the $ is nothing less than terrible. It is hard to believe that the 99% that have to share 1% of the money tolerates these creeps!

    How many fox does it take to make a hammock for the wealthy? And would they really use it or simply be amused by its “quaintness”!

    One funny comment, you can do something about your blood pressure without $, stop thinking about this trash, it’s not worth anyone’s time.

    Thanks Debra.

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