The Vagenda

Lessons from Grazia: Here’s Why You’re a Depressive


Did you know that 75% of women feel depressed, guilty and shameful within 3 minutes of reading a women’s magazine? 

I know, right, what the fuck? That’s ages! I got depressed within ONE MINUTE of reading this week’s Grazia. 
It wasn’t your classic front cover shot of ‘under attack’ Gwynnie epitomising Grazia’s ‘distress in a dress’ trope that did it. Nor was it the news that Miranda and Orlando are splitting up (although massive sad face obvs). No siree. It was ‘The Fashion Charts’. Because even though I’m a relatively successful young woman with enough money to buy the Tesco Finest chorizo rather than the cooking chorizo, I could still only afford like, two fucking things on that whole page. 
The Fashion Charts is basically recession-proof, assuming as it does that women still have the means to cough up £325 on a pair of loafers that kind of look like rabbits, a fucking ponyskin fucking clutch that costs £479.50 (and that’s nothing compared to the almost identical clutches in the fashion section later on, which come in at a staggering £1,085 EACH), a dress that looks like something Maria Von Trapp wore to the virgin convention for £1,090, and a bag designed by everyone’s favourite fashion visionary Petra Ecclestone that costs £1,450. I can’t be arsed to add all that up but it is one hell of a lot of fugly looking swag. Meanwhile, the £60 next dress looks like the inside of a tart’s handbag, as my nan would say, which is a politically incorrect retro way of saying that it looks like someone took some clarty red knickers from Primark’s ‘Secret Possessions’ line and sewed them all together to make a dress. Thus the only appealing/affordable thing on the whole page is a pair of earrings that look like moons for £32. They are quite nice and I will probably buy them. 
But enough of my emotional problems. Here’s what Grazia taught me this week:
- That the people who write for it are ageist meanies, slagging as they do the formidable Betty White, who this week did a pastiche of Miley’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ video but kept her clothes on. ‘Probably a good idea,’ said Grazia, ‘she wouldn’t want to catch a chill.’ (subtext: naked old people, eeew) 
- Gwyneth is under attack, not, contrary to popular belief, by brain-invading martians whose diets consist entirely of flax seeds and botulinum, but by…well, I’m not sure really. Apparently Vanity Fair has written an article about her, but no one has seen the article yet, especially not Grazia, so one can only speculate. But apparently it says some really mean things, such as rumours that Gwyneth has been knocking boots with Elle Macpherson’s billionaire husband. This is something Grazia thinks is really mean, btw, and is only repeating here so that Grazia readers can see JUST HOW MEAN THOSE OTHER GOSSIP MONGERS WHO ARE DEFINITELY NOT US REALLY ARE. ‘So far, it appears that nor too many of Gwyneth’s A-List friends have been stepping forward to defend her’, bleats Grazia, ‘though in their defence, she did directly ask them not to provide any quotes or assistance relating to the Vanity Fair article, and any statement would only publicise it further’. 
What a bunch of bitches. 
- The Chart of Lust doesn’t approve of fancy dress, thus confirming our long-held suspicions that it is complied by the least fun person alive. Chart of Lust also fancies the posh squiffy couple on Gogglebox, who I have to say, despite being a heavy drinker myself, appear to be a pair of alcoholics desperately in need of an intervention. 
- It’s good to have sex when you don’t actually want to have sex. Or rather, journalist Kate Wills has ‘been known to do it not because I really feel like it, but because I feel I should’. I don’t really know what to say about this except that it made me feel a bit sad in my tummy and I had to go and kiss my boyfriend all over his face for a bit while mentally swearing never to write anything less than 100% positive about our sex life in a national publication as long as I live. 
- Ruby from Bake Off is ace, and Grace Dent is ace, so together they made a great feature, apart from the bit where Grace says: ‘At 21, 5ft 11in and about a size eight, Ruby is naturally elegant. If she wasn’t so quietly affable I’d have pushed her face in a bowl by now’. Could have done without that if it meant hearing more about the interesting Ruby’s life and future career plans. But still, Grazia, more like this please. 
- The ability of Grazia to pick over the remains of a celebrity’s failed marriage know no bounds, as evidenced by their coverage of what, for the participants, is actually probably quite a harrowing and distressing time. But who cares? An insider told Grazia: ‘Orlando and Miranda have basically been living separate lives.’ 
- Something called a ‘micro bag’ is now fashionable. It basically looks like a child’s handbag, thus rendering any normal sized women a gargantuan oaf. Do not want. 
- Kimye’s wedding (”Kim will have up to four different dresses’, said a source’) is going to dominate column inches for the next year, which is why I’m already on my third glass of wine and will continue to be in that state until it is all over, which may be never, in which case I shall just become Amish, or something. 
- I didn’t think I could care less about Kate Middleton’s clothes, but the ‘revelation’ that her entire wardrobe is being engineered by a double-barrelled Sloane who is heavily into ‘prints’ has made it even less interesting than it was before. 
- Never sacrifice your independence. This week’s head-to-head, entitled ‘Is sharing a bank account the ultimate commitment?’ has just confirmed that for me because, a.) fuck no, and b.) fuck no. Sali Hughes is the voice of reason here, basically telling you not to surrender your financial independence because it can make you extremely fucking vulnerable, innit. Wise woman. 
- One in three women remove their engagement or wedding rings at work out of fear they damage their job prospects. I was genuinely shocked by this, until I realised the survey was conducted by a jewellery website as a PR stunt, and then started thinking that maybe the jobs that women seem to do more often than men (wiping children and old people’s bums, cooking school dinners, nursing) might actually not be all that conducive to the sporting of expensive jewellery. But maybe that’s just me. 

- Rita Ora wears far too much tartan, at least according to ‘THE FASHION JURY.’ I didn’t know there was such a thing as too much tartan, but then I sort of feel like I’m an honorary member of Dropkick Murphys, so…

- Apparently, according to Polly Vernon, ‘we’ are all ‘pretty-ist’ (no, I’m not fucking with you) because ‘we’ didn’t like Ruby off bake off (I thought she was fine?) ‘There we were’, says Polly, ‘going to convoluted lengths to justify the fact that watching a good-looking lady baking made us anxious in ways we can’t explain.’ Errr…ok. Think you’re projecting a bit there, Polly. In fact, after reading your ‘you hate me because I’m thin’ article about how you only eat rice cakes, I’m pretty sure the only lady made anxious by the baking was you. 

- Your tits age twice as fast as you do, apparently, (‘the horror’, says Grazia), but this is a good thing, surely? You can ask them for motherly advice about when is the right time to start concealing your upper arms, and when you act up they’ll ruffle your hair and lament how they put you in nursery too soon. Sounds lovely.

- Grazia thinks that wearing ten dernier tights makes you daring, which I’d agree with, frankly, not because, as it explains in the feature ‘WOULD YOU DARE DO TEN DERNIER?’ ‘those tights will show every lump and bump’, but because they’ll give you ringworm when you’re on year ten work experience at the council, and even though sarongs are in that year, the massive fungal welts on your thighs still ruin your mum-and-daughter holiday to Zante. 

- Zomg, Obama totally stopped a pregnant woman from fainting. Amazing. Never mind the fact that his drones kill other, less important pregnant women on the other side of the world; he saved THIS PARTICULAR pregnant woman: what a hero. 

- Grazia’s understanding of mental illness is still fundamentally awry, as demonstrated by: ‘I Had a Good Job and Lots of Friends – So Why Did I Feel So Sad?’ That’s right ladies, forget serotonin imbalance, forget SCIENCE, because Polly Dunbar, 32 has some observations to make, including regarding the prevalence of depression in her social group: ‘we’re not negative types who wallow in self-pity’ she quickly disclaimers (read: like you sad bunch of depressed fuckers) ‘We’re hard-working, normally confident, cheerful people who throw ourselves into making the most of life. So why are we failing to cope? To put it another way, why is our generation of women so depressed?’ 

Before we ask Carrie to reign in the rhetorical questions, let’s examine some of the assumptions inherent in this piece, starting with the idea that, by participating successfully in a capitalist system that you’re somehow immune to a globally recognised mental illness. Wtf? Dunbar then goes on to link the female depression ‘epidemic’ with the fact that ‘more women are single today than at any other time in modern history, apart from after the First World War, when a generation of men had just been killed.’ So basically, it’s because the man you thought you were going to marry is dead in a trench and without men you’re incapable of being happy. Except he isn’t lying dead in some foreign field bloated yellow by poison gas with a mud-soaked picture of you in his front pocket. He’s on fucking Tinder, probably. So suck it up. 

Dunbar then goes on to collate depression with childlessness, not winning the ‘man lottery’, not ‘having it all’, and being a part of ‘Generation Y’, none of which is remotely backed up with any data. She finally concludes after two pages that ‘our obsession with happiness is what’s making us unhappy.’ Way to trivialise a serious mental illness, babes, by suggesting that seeing our friend’s luxury holidays on Instagram is what’s making us feel the need to be temazepammed up to the tits. Jesus.

In all fairness, I’m sure that Dunbar really did suffer from depression, and that the reason this piece came out the way it did is because some cock of a features editor wanted the whole thing to have a ‘millenial’ angle to it. But equally, I’ve lost patience with this whole pop-psychology interpretation of mental illness, I really have. Depression kills people, every day, and not because of Facebook, you bunch of tits. 

But maybe I’m just being overly passionate, because my red wine has finished and I’ve moved on to my flatmate’s white zinfandel, which to be quite honest with you legit tastes like vomit (there is a remote possibility that it may indeed be a component- it’s been half open in the fridge since Friday). Maybe it’s just the wine. Maybe I need to just bask in the glow of a two grand micro-bag. Maybe then it will all be ok. 

Three minutes: that’s all it takes. Three fucking minutes. 

6 thoughts on “Lessons from Grazia: Here’s Why You’re a Depressive

  1. The cover alone is cringeworthy… I find it hard to believe that in 2013 we still don’t have a non sexist, non pop gossip obsessed, non class discriminating, non body policing fashion magazine – there’s such a wide audience for it already.

  2. @naommi: Stylist stylist stylist is the answer!

    Also, the idea of having lovely maternalistic boobs who will pat me on the head and tell me to go to bed earlier on school nights has made my day. Cheers Vagenda.

  3. If you know that ‘Depression kills people, every day’ how could you write this bile about the Grazia writer who has been brave enough to admit that she suffered from depression when, from the outside, it might look as though she has absolutely nothing to complain about? I don’t know if you also hate Ruby Wax and have written comparable diatribes against her for admitting she has depression but also – oh – hasn’t had every man in her generation annihilated on the Western Front but she’s done a lot of work encouraging people to talk openly about their depression because there is such a stigma against it. I think, most likely, the point of the article was to say: it’s ok if you feel depressed and (FROM THE OUTSIDE) your life looks ‘perfect’. If you can’t understand that humans tend to be happier when they share their life with a mate and that women, who you must know have wombs as well as vaginas, often would prefer to have a baby in their future rather than a career alone, then I worry about the sisterhood.
    You are feminists, is that correct? Because frankly on the question of Polly Dunbar I’d expect greater understanding from Jeremy Clarkson. Are you aware that this is horrifying trolling had been read by her on a bad day it could quite easily have tipped her over the edge don’t you? Because there are several young female journalists who have committed suicide – which you would know if you were really feminists who exposed the real-life obstacles women (yes, even those with successful media careers who don’t just blog anonymously) face rather than being snide about Grazia magazine. And if you are going through a magazine in that sort of detail, you spent more than three minutes on it. Why don’t you read some Susan Sontag instead?

  4. Well said. Having suffered from depression myself, I applaud anyone who has the courage to admit they have depression and to speak openly about it in the hope that it will help others in a similar situation. The original article may not have been written in a ‘feminist’ way, but surely as feminists we should defend every woman’s right to write what they want and not attack them for them in such a way when they are in a vulnerable state such as this?

    Having said that the Vagenda is generally very good, I thoroughly enjoy most posts I read and I hope this proves to be the only exception to the rule.