Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Madison Mag: Brazilian Waxing is not for 14 year olds

There's a lot to get you fired in up the current, Green issue of Madison magazine: aside from the obvious hypocrisy of the fact that a glossy magazine is printed on the most anti-green commodity out there, paper, there's an article about tweens with personal shoppers, which also mentions Brazilian waxing. Disturbingly, this is printed under the "trend" section.

Before we get started, a few points: you can always get great all-round mag reviews over at Girl with a Satchel. Madison has this month interested and infuriated me so I'll be focussing on a few particular points only. Editor Paula Joye does a great job of addressing the inherent contradiction of printing a "Green" issue by stating that Madison is a media outlet with a duty and responsibility to inform and inspire. Fair point, especially considering that knowledge is the first step to power, and if we're going to be green, we need to be informed. There's a cute spread with "celebs" spouting all sorts of obvious but still useful go-green info - the best comes from comedian Tim Ross: "I don't wash my clothes, and I have a doona made of John Butler".

So, all this greenery makes you start thinking about taking responsibility, being more careful with the precious resources we have, and feeling guilty about consumerism. I don't know whether it's intentional or not but the fashion pages* consequently annoy me (mainly, the fugly as all fug Armani handbag on page 133 which costs $14,000 - I'm hoping this is a misprint. Presumably if it costs this much it wasn't produced by 5 year-olds in Vietnam, but then it's most likely made of real animal. Green, planet-friendly and responsible? Not really. And man, it's ugly) and stories such as pg 92's "Are You Cooler than a Fourth-Grader?" are thus made all the more poignant.

I have a daughter and I love shopping for her. So, in some respects I can understand why the New York advertising exec mother (naturally) in this story likes to spoil her 9 year old - it's fun, and a type of expensive bonding experience. However, her daughter has a team of personal stylists and shoppers, at a going rate of $650 per day. They "make it easy" to find the perfect outfits for back-to-school, parties, and whatever else it is that 9 year olds do. Like play. No, not that. Apparently, personal care products for teens and tweens nowadays are worth $8.5 billion in the US. Ok, so I read all that, and just sort of scoff at how ridiculous Americans are (though the whole tween industry in Aus is projected tor each $10 billion next year), and how surely people have better things to spend money on, and how these kids are going to grow up totally bratty without backbone nor brain cell. THEN I read the most disturbing part of the article, beneath the bit about 12 year olds with more makeup then their teenage babysitters and Nair's Pretty hair removal line, aimed at 10-15 year olds: the website girl.com.au, apparently the number 1 website for girls aged 9-14, ran a feature on Brazilian waxing, stating that "nobody really likes hair in their private regions...it has a childlike appeal". Stop, stare, re-read. Oh. My. God. Thankfully, this line has since been deleted from the site, but the point is: somebody put it there in the first place. Somebody thinks private hair removal is appropriate for primary-school aged kids. None of my friends even shaved their legs until we were in year 7. And it was probably not until year 9 or 10 when you start wondering about giving those sideburns a trim before swimming in PE. No wonder girls these days (listen to me, it was only a decade ago I was 14, and thinking more about Clearasil rather than pubic waxing) have an alraming rate of eating disorders and low self-esteem. When you are a child, and you're told by that most influential force in your information-soaked life, that your child like looks are not good enough, that nobody who's anybody should look like or want to look like a child, what are you going to do? You're an impressionable pubescent already uncomfortable with your changing body and emotions, and to be told things like this, and think it's normal?! As you can see, it completely freaked me out. If our kids are taught to be embarrassed by normality, uncomfortable with themselves and always being told they can be better, what hope will the planet have when we put it in their hands? Ben Lee's enviro-quote on page 61 perhaps gives us a good starting point: "I am interested in creating social change in a positive way...". Social change is going to go hand-in-hand with the massive lifestyle and environmental changes we are slowly beginning to make. Is our culture and our society able to change, or have we become so self-absorbed with ourselves, our looks and our posessions that we won't be able to handle learning to take less, use less, and respect more?

Hats off to you, Madison, for creating an issue that encourages us to do that most dangerous and worthwhile of activities: to think.

*Yes they need fashion pages in a glossy magazine or it wouldn't sell. There's a great story on pg 138 "The Green Fashion House Effect", profiling eco-friendly designers such as Stella McCartney, but Madison falls a little short of practising what it preaches, on the surface. It's like the Green part of the issue (which is a good 2/3, thankfully) is just there for the sake of it, and then the rest can revert back to good old-fashioned selfish indulgence. Without meaning to sound harsh, this is honestly the feeling I get from this issue, and usually I quite enjoy Madison. How can you print pictures of the devastated Styx Forest, and then really give a stuff about the latest "it" eye shadow? In this instance then, Madison has done it's job of opening up one's eyes to the real issue at hand. 'Cos, you know, I love makeup and pretty sparkly things as much as the next female. The fact I don't care to read about them in this issue means the most important message has come through loud and clear.


  1. I am glad I am not the only one who was freaked out by girl.com.au thing!

  2. geeeeez, kids these days!! trend doesn't always mean we should follow them. Take for example brazilian bikini waxing, early teens don't have that much pubic hair for them to shave them off.