...in the bottom drawer
I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.

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January 15, 2006 || 9:12 pm
Observer 'Woman'

As with the Labour Party, thus with the Guardian/Observer stable of newspapers. Steadily less exciting, more saleable, more middle-of-the-road, more hypocritical. Getting rid of the old masthead and broadsheet format was a seminal moment, though the signs had been there for some time - the steadily decreasing amount of real content and the increasing number of pull-out sections printed on that horrible glossy paper that makes your fingers feel all funny after you've touched it. Now, I never buy the papers any more. I read it all online, thankful for not having to throw away the 90% of the paper version that I don't want to even have to buy.

I held onto the Observer for a bit longer - but now it too has resized as 'Berliner' (what a tempting sounding name for a rather horrible redesign), it's gone the way of the rest. (At least, until the boy comes back and starts buying it again, along with the News of the World, for our Sunday mornings.) And this week they launch the most depressing new arrival - Observer Woman.

Of course, it always was going to be depressing, wasn't it. We just knew it was going to be about shopping, how early-thirties professional women try to reconcile child-rearing with sensible work and boring fashion, and lame gossipy articles about lame famous women. But really, this was a triumph of focus-group marketing. Purves and Purves in magazine format.

I'm a woman (natch), perhaps on the young-ish end of their target audience but not so young that I don't hold down a good job and eat out rather a lot. But there, evidently, the similarities between myself and the new Observer audience end. I don't care about Liz Hurley - or rather, I do, but I'd rather read about her in the Sun because its so much more fun than trying to take her vaguely seriously. I do think society's fetish for hairless bodies is worth thinking about, but I'm not sure that the most interesting article you could write about it is the erstwhile Cocktail Girl recounting how disgusted she is when she grows out her leg hair. She was funnier as Cocktail Girl, and much more up my street (literally, when reviewing Loungelover). As for all the other filler - why wearing leggings is a bad idea, why simpering in the boadroom is OK even for ambitious women, what fashion items men and women don't agree on; it is a waste of paper, pure and simple. The only half-decent bit was Gordon Ramsay, because he talked about grating black truffle onto his girlfriend's breasts.

One day, someone will realise that women might want a magazine all to themselves that is actually funny, smart, edgy and dangerous. Not in-jokes for the Islingtonites. Not stuff that you giggle over with your boyfriend/husband but stuff that makes them squirm with discomfort. The other day, Norway announced that it will shut down any stock exchange-listed companies that don't have 45% of their board as women in two years. Or you could be writing about the star geeks of the female Silicon Valley sex bloggers. And all our oldest Sunday newspaper can think to report on is Polly Vernon's leg hair.



I coulnd't agree with you more! Obviously I just read your blog entry now, stumbling across it in a bid to find proof of other people thinking Observer Woman is a complete joke. And a badlyt written joke too. I live in a flat of 4 girls, we all rage about it everytime it comes in the paper, and oddly enough there's no letters page... On top of it all The guardian/The Observer keep hailing it as some smart, revolutionary, "brilliant addition to Sunday newspaper journalism". It speaks down to the readers, is cringe worthy and dumb, and misjudges the intelluigence of The Observer female readers quite grossly. HEAT is smarter and better written than this piece of useless fluff. What a digression!

By Anonymous Mette Johnsen, at 3:12 pm  

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