Girls, Uninterrupted

The Debut of ‘Rosie’ and ‘mary-kateandashley’

The whole subject of gentlemen companions—how to capture their attentions, how to deal with their presence and what seems like their inevitable absence—is handled by the two journals with brisk detachment in place of the syrupy seduction scenarios of magazines past. In 1960, McCall's ran an article called "An Encyclopedic Approach to Finding a Second Husband." Now, there's plenty of doubt about the need for a first. Though Ms. O'Donnell prattles on ad nauseam about her passel of kiddies, there's no dad around. Wendy Wasserstein, another dadless mom, is the author of a feature about a center in Harlem for poor children—Uma Thurman volunteers there—where a woman called Atasha Jenkins, a single mother far less well-fixed than Rosie or Wendy, is a client. mary-kateandashleylists the top 10 reasons you don't need a boyfriend, with number nine offering this jaundiced view of romance: "Tears and screaming: not your idea of a good time."

Even when the features are frisky, the advertisements can't help but drag down the buoyant tone. Rosiehas an article about a runner whose credo is "I'm going out there to be a beautiful, plus-size, healthy woman running 26.2 miles," directly across from a Slim-Fast ad. A terrific feature in mary-kateandashleycalled "You're Better Looking Than You Think You Are" takes to task the media's unrealistic portrayals of young women, though it would have been nice if it had acknowledged just how airbrushed all those pics of the Olsens are.

Still, in the end, all the dumb celeb stuff and makeup advice, the craft projects and religious school inspirational messages, are vanquished by an activist spirit that occasionally rears up and kicks sand at those Jenny Craig and Revitalift ads. In a piece entitled "The First Female President?" mary-kateandashleyintroduces readers to Victoria Woodhull, no doubt the first time this 19th-century libertine, who ran for president in 1872, has popped up in a magazine for eight-to-14-year-olds. And Rosie's cover story, "Fran Drescher's Triumph Over Cancer," isn't the four-hankie special you'd expect. Drescher, furious at the shoddy medical care she's received, recommends an empowerment plan that would have made Friedan and Woodhull swell with pride: If you get sick, you should beg, borrow, or steal $150 for Web TV, then buckle down and research your symptoms yourself.

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