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Magazines Provide Insight To Today’s New Woman

So what do the new women’s magazines tell us about the New Woman? Three new publications have appeared more or less simultaneously Jane, Sports Illustrated Women/Sport, and Conde Nast Sports for Women vying for distaff mind share and the almighty Clairol advertising dollar. My conclusions thus far:

New Woman much like the Old Woman: I’ve been savoring the debut issue of Jane, the hot new Disney-Fairchild rag that seems to be targeting the same demographic group that GQ goes after men trolling for second wives. Only Jane targets women. The eponymous Jane is 34-year-old editor Jane Pratt, a twice-failed talk show hostess, whom The Wall Street Journal dubs “a firecracker who has made more noise than money.”

Here’s Jane’s dazzlingly original editorial formula: fashion/sex/ makeup/relationships/hair/sex/celebrity/sex/workplace/spas/men/ nutrition/sex. In 246 advertising-choked pages, I spotted three flashes of semi-originality.

1. “It Happened to Me,” a grown-up version of YM’s terrific “Say Anything” column. Instead of menstrual mishaps, Jane showcases the unpleasant consequences of testifying in a sexual harassment case. 2. “Fashion Isn’t Brain Surgery,” a brief essay on fashion by … a brain surgeon. 3. Posing as a personal assistant to John F. Kennedy Jr., Kato Kaelin and others, a Jane staffer tries to score complimentary tickets to an upcoming U2 concert. John-John and Carolyn get All Access passes.

As for the K-Man: “We’re so sorry, Mr. Kaelin, but we don’t have any more tickets to give away.”

And this fashion tip: “Brown is the new black.” How odd that Pratt chose this moment to dye her naturally brown hair blonde.

Even New Women Have to Eat: Jane prints six recipes, most of them elementary. The current issue of Good Housekeeping has 23.

Articles in Jane you won’t find in Good Housekeeping: “I Hate the Spice Girls”; “Helium May be an Acquired Taste.” Helium is a Boston band.

Vice Versa: “Pet Insurance; Is it Worth It?”; “Does Pre-Treating with Detergent Work?”

Jane celebrity interview: “Did you know there’s a fish in Belize that can reproduce with itself? That’s so groovy and empowering.” - Drew Barrymore.

GH celebrity interview: “I am more balanced because of David and the children” - Michelle Pfeiffer.

Conde Nast Sports for Women celebrity interview that could run in GH: “It’s funny, I have a very psychotic, wild side, but I also love knitting.” - Tea Leoni. (On second thought, maybe not.)

Jane Advertisers You Won’t Find in the Women’s Sports Mags: Virgina Slims, Misty Light Slims, Parliament Lights, Kamel Cigarettes, Skyy Vodka.

Old Woman Asks: “When my husband and I first met, we made out all the time. Why doesn’t he like to make out anymore? Are most guys like this once they’re married?” - Redbook.

New Woman asks: “I have been told that lifting free weights can stunt your growth. Should I continue weightlifting?” - Sports Illustrated Women/Sport.

Jane Considers Men to Be: Meat SIS/W Considers Men to Be: Competition Redbook Considers Men to Be: Potential ex-husbands.

Jane Road-Tests: Cellulite creams, stiletto pumps.

Conde Nast Sports for Women Road-Tests: Running shoes.

Woman’s Day Road-Tests: Seven versatile new chicken recipes.

Somehow Jane Missed This: SI Women/Sport chronicles success stories of pregnant athletes, including ultramarathoner Sue Olsen, who competed in a 24-hour race 30 hours before giving birth to a baby boy.

The Jane Poll Asks: If readers would consider being a surrogate mother. (Yes: 33 percent)

The Conde Nast Poll Asks: Would you let your date beat you in sports, even though you’re better? (Yes: 5 percent)

The New Woman Poll Asks: Do men want more sex? (Yes: 70 percent.)

Firm Butt, Then: Alternate-leg kicks, vertical scissors, jumping jacks - McCall’s

Firm Butt, Now: In-line skating. “You feel it in your butt right away,” champion Peggy Tillinghast tells Conde Nast.

Scorpio Rising: “People may get disgruntled by your successes in September but by October they’ll all be begging for a piece of your cake.” - my horoscope in Jane.

Or Is It? “A group you belong to or a project you’re working on is central to you this month.” - my horoscope in McCall’s.

The Original New Woman not so New: New Woman magazine (slogan: “Dare to be You”) is 27 years old.

Tags: Commentary