Fashion magazines get a lot of flack for perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards and body shaming, and that’s totally justified. But my God, have you read a celebrity gossip rag recently? They make Vogue and InStyle seem like forward-thinking beacons of body positivity and intersectional feminism. I bought a couple celebrity gossip magazines at the airport last week, thinking they’d provide a bit of frothy, lighthearted distraction on my flight. Instead, I was horrified to find a nonstop deluge of body snarking and a level of misogyny so extreme it would aaaallllmost be funny if it weren’t so depressing.
Here’s the imagined conversation that ran through my mind while flipping through a stack of tabloid magazines:
Tabloid: Pssttt! Did you hear? Jennifer Lawrence has cellulite. CELLULITE. Can you believe it?
Me: Well, yeah, I can believe it. Everyone has cellulite. Who cares?
Tabloid: It’s a quarter-sized dimple on her upper thigh that’s only visible with a telephoto lens from a foot away, but STILL. Can you say, “Beach Body Nightmare Of The Year”?
Me: I mean, I could say that, but I really don’t want to.
Tabloid: I have a zoomed-in picture of her inner thigh that’s been enhanced by a former FBI technical forensic agent to accentuate the texture if you want to see.
Me: I’d really rather not.
Tabloid: It’s on page 43. We put a picture of her looking sad on the cover, along with a thought bubble that says, “I’m so ashamed of my cellulite-riddled thighs!” She has never actually said that but I think we can safely assume that’s what she’s thinking all the time.
Me: I hate everything about this conversation. Can we please talk about something else?
Tabloid: Sure! Ooh, so how about Ben and Jen divorcing?
Me: Oh yeah I was genuinely bummed to hear that.
Tabloid: It’s too bad Jen couldn’t keep Ben happy enough to stay.
Me: Wait, what?
Tabloid: Well you know, men are predispositioned to cheat, and she could have tried harder to keep him happy. Dressing up a little, for one. What was the deal with all those jeans and sneakers?
Me: I thought she looked great. Also why does this matter?
Tabloid: Men are visual creatures. Visual creatures like to see very thin women in spandex minidresses and platform stilettos in the kitchen making sandwiches. That’s a scientific fact. Ask Dr. Oz.
Me: I don’t want Dr. Oz’s opinion!
Tabloid: Are you more of a Dr. Phil girl? We have an interview with him on page 28 discussing tips for a happy marriage with his trademark wit: “A wife should be like a Texas dairy cow in springtime: friendly and fertile!” I’m paraphrasing, of course. You should read the interview!
Me: Seriously? What year is this?
Tabloid: The year Ben had an affair with the nanny, probably because she had less cellulite than his wife.
Me: THIS IS MADNESS.
Tabloid: I’ll tell you what’s madness: Jennifer Love Hewitt thinking she can pull off that dress!
Me: What’s wrong with the dress?
Tabloid: The dress is pretty, but it really shows how much she’s lagging on losing her baby weight.
Me: She gave birth A MONTH AGO.
Tabloid: Heidi Klum lost her baby weight before the baby was even born. It can be done, you know.
Me: That makes no sense.
Tabloid: I’ll tell you what makes no sense: Bruce Jenner.
Me: Please. For the love of God. Just stop.