Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Letters to the Editor of Women's Magazines, With Edith Zimmerman

ELLE'S BELLESI just received the latest issue of SELF, and I'm looking forward to enjoying it from cover to cover! The section on how to save someone's life in an emergency, the delicious-looking recipes and the fashion suggestions I can actually afford are among the many standouts. It's the best issue I've gotten in a long time. Style and substance-that's why I subscribe! Keep up the good work.
Kerrie Smothers, St. Louis (Self, August '09)

My most recent copy of SELF fell through the slot in my door with a bang, and I screamed because I thought it was a gunshot. Nope-it was just my magazines in the mail! Anyway, the magazine itself is about a foot long, like usual, and you know what it reminds me of? A square, but a little bit longer. Can't wait to read what's in this long square!
Kendra W., Amarillo, TX

I loved your decision to put Gwen Stefani on the July cover, and I really enjoyed reading Aaron Gell's article about her, "Underneath It All." She is an accomplished and multitalented woman, taking on both the music and fashion industries and becoming an icon in the process. I appreciated her delving deep into the internal struggle she faces while attempting to successfully balance a home and work life. I commend her for her honesty and the bravery it took to do an interview during such a trying time in her life.
Lauren, Highland Park, IL (Elle, September '09)

Did you guys put Gwen Stefani on the cover? I'm like, "Is that her?" I asked my friend Denise and she's like, "I don't know." I'm like, "Denise!"
Karen L., via e-mail

The biggest winner
I watch "The Biggest Loser" every week and love seeing Jillian help people change their lives. Now I can benefit from her expertise in the magazine, too. It doesn't get any better than this!
Jessica Zausch, Menomonee Falls, WI (Self, September '09)

I've been lucky enough to experience a lot of great moments in my life-graduating college, getting married, giving birth-but nothing compares to the times I've spent reading you. Nothing. No-thing. Nuuuuh-thinggg. Are you listening, you old dummy? You old dumb bitch? Dumbitch. Seriously, though-fucking look at me! Do you even have eyes?! Oh you fucking slut. Fuck. I'm a fucking wreck. And now I'm fucking crying! Goddamnit, fuck. I love you. I love you, you old fucking bitch. You slutty old horrible whore, you're my best fucking friend. Come here. Come the fuck here!
Wendy S., Chattanooga, TN

Step it up!
I read in SELF that a daily exercise break is good for productivity, so I used a pedometer to measure out a 1.2-mile route around our five office floors. By sending an email to my coworkers, I gathered up 30 walkers to complete the route three times a week. What a great morale booster and fun way to spend time with my staff! Thank you for the great idea and helping us stay fit.
Claudia Hoffman, Miami (Self, September '09)

I read in SELF that the strongest noose is made of silk. But that was in an article from last year, so here's what I'm wondering: Does that still "hold up" today?
Donna Doogan, Duluth
From the editors: Yup!

I just want to say that I love Marie Claire for its sharp-witted sarcasm-when I read your magazine, it talks back to me, unlike all of those other, brainless fashion mags. Thanks for the sassiness!
Rachel Stiles, Waukegan, IL (Marie Claire, September '09)

Sometimes I pick up your magazine and hold it against my head like a telephone. "Hello, who's this? Oh, hi! How are you? You saw who at the store?" We can chat for hours. Chit chat, chit chat, chit chat. "What are you doing later? Oh that sounds fun. Me? I'm not sure." It's really nice!
Elise, Tampa

Dangerous dieting
"The Scary New Skinny" really hit home for me. I used to cleanse and fast constantly because I believed I was doing something healthy. No one questioned my decision to cut dairy, meat, sugar and wheat from my diet, or to live off juices, watermelon and teas; it was all for seemingly healthy reasons. After about five years of this, I finally realized these behaviors were not healthy and that I had an eating disorder. I sought treatment, and I never want to go down that road again.
Jenna M.
Lethbridge, Alberta (Self, September '09)

For about 45 years I used to kill people constantly-literally murdering them by shooting bullets through their brains and then cutting off their heads with a knife. And even though everyone I killed was either super annoying or weird (you can ask my friends, and they'd all be like "yes they were!"), one day-this morning, actually-I saw my own reflection in my blood-smeared knife, and I looked so freaky I didn't recognize myself. I'm hanging my head low today, that's for sure.
Candace Staggerfield, Northampton, MA

Edith Zimmerman is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn.

32 Comments / Post A Comment

Hamilton (#122)

Ha. A funny thing.

Kate Croy (#973)

"For about 45 years I used to kill people constantly" should open a novel.

Bittersweet (#765)

I went to high school with an Aaron Gell. Sure hope that's not him writing puff pieces on Gwen Stefani for Elle.

If it's the one who worked at Radar, and founded ASSME, then it is!

Dear Edith Zimmerman,

I was reading your "Letters to the Editor …" post on The Awl and I thought "this is really funny in a sassy sort of way" and I was about to write you a letter that said: "Thanks for the sassiness!" But then one letter toward the end made me laugh so hard a peed a little bit, which made me really mad because I was sitting on an antique George IV chair with an embroidered seat, and now I got pee on it and it's ruined. So thanks a lot for that … NOT!

MisterHippity, Sherman, CT

katiechasm (#163)

Thanks for the sassiness!

Who are these people?

Christian (#659)

That was amazing. Candace Staggerfield is the new name of Elena Ceausescu.

HiredGoons (#603)

You didn't hear this from me but Candace Staggerfield is a royal bitch.

lululemming (#409)

Edith Zimmerman, you are a funny lady. Which is totally odd, because I read in some other magazine that women aren't funny.

OT: Has anyone else seen Spring Breakdown, the straight-to-video stoner comedy starring Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch and Parker Posey? Shit was funny. Not a masterpiece, but I laughed heartily, a lot. It was not unlike "Old School" except, you know, with smart ladies. STRAIGHT TO VIDEO. Because,

Dear Self Magazine, thanx for the preview of Sex and the City 2, I love to see movies with strong, funny women in the lead role. Please feature more of these true-to-life female stories.

Lulu, Wasilla, Alaska

p.s. I like your shoes. All. of. them.

Patrick M (#404)

That is sooo Denise.

BoHan (#29)

Reading The Awl today is making me feel stoned. I like that feeling. Keep up the good work.

sox (#652)

It doesn't get any better than this!

atipofthehat (#797)

Can the Awl keep Edith Zimmerman? Please, Choire? Please?

Tuna Surprise (#573)

I think your request needs to be in the form of a letter to the editors.

Dear Awl,
Thank you, thank you, thank you for Edith Zimmerman's fabulous column in your last issue!!! I used to write letters to the editors of Sassy and Seventeen and her hilarious send-up brought all of the memories flooding back! I can't wait to read your take on "Dear Penthouse Forum…" in the next issue. Keep up the good work, Edith!
Tuna S., Missasuagua, Ontario, Canada

amuselouche (#448)

Very "The Best of Betty." Which is a good thing. Can I request some Ten Handy Tips lists next, for easy lamination?

dorothy (#1,694)

I just read this post by Edith Zimmerman, who is a highly skilled and multitalented woman, no doubt. I appreciate the struggle she faces as she tries to balance a life of carving unwieldy vegetables into beautiful, amazing art whilst working as an online writer! It's no easy task, I am sure. I commend her for her honesty, bravery, and for helping me, and my staff, stay fit. Keep up the sassiness, The Awl, this piece really hit home for me.

your reader, 

Dorothy, Greenpoint

More, please. (No time to be creative.)

Abe Sauer (#148)

Ha ha ha… wait… am I laughing at the sincerity of the readers who write letters to magazines… or am I laughing at the magazines that print them? HA HA SINCERITY!

lululemming (#409)

*misplaced* sincerity.

Actually, the part I find funniest is knowing how hard it is to fill a letters page when you only have three letters and one of them is like, addressed to the subject of a piece in your last issue and is all "Dear Brad Pitt, I have taped fifteen of my eyelashes to this letter, one for every year is has been since "Legends of the Fall". And then the other one is like "You fucked up the spelling of Pauly Shore's last movie! I shall have you fired! and then the third is totally irrelevant, like " Wake up! People are dying, people!". And then there's the fourth one, which is from your mum, who thinks the last issue is swell. And then you change her name to something semi wry, like Kerrie S'Mothers and you print the fucking thing, because what kind of person writes an actual letter to a print magazine anymore?

Abe Sauer (#148)

Oh I know a little about that. Though, from the other end at a trade magazine where there were like 10,000 letters for every article from practitioners and they ranged from "So and so's take on this issue is bullshit and your publication is shit" to "I would love to freelance write for you… for free… to help my failing business…" to "If I see you in public I will kill you because that article cut my business in half and I have three kids are you trying to starve them you assholes?!" So… yeah.

But to me it's more like… of ALL the bullshit to pick on in a fashion mag, it's the sincere (if "lame") letters to the editor? These magazines are packed full of bullshit editorial-for-ad$ and Ivy English Masters Degree holders selling their souls to write 20-word captions to sell America the latest shaggy vest (Rachel Zoe says this will be this season's big hit!). And we're picking on Rachel from Waukegan????

lululemming (#409)

That's actually a fair argument you're making there. I would say a parallel sentiment of why I found that "People in Wal-Mart" blog to be so vile. I guess I laughed because I honestly don't think "Rachel from Waukegan" exists in 99 per cent of the letters. Occam's razor applied here makes me think these letters are cajoled from friends of long-suffering interns at said mags, who are basically like " Hey Rachel, I will write this letter, and if you let me put your name to it in our letters section, I'll fed-ex you some graft (Rachel Zoe Muppet vest, size medium). Come on, I'm fucking desperate."

I see your point, but I don't think this is mean-spirited in the same sense as that Wal-mart blog, because, the way I read it, it's skewering the the whole ladymag industry, a the quite possibly fictive "Rachel" is just a stand-in for the vapidity of the entire section, as a conceit. That a magazine would publish a page of self-congratulatory tripe to begin with, I suppose.

Also, one time, I read "Cosmo" in the gym (also, one time, I went to the gym), and a reader tip said to put a doughnut on my man's wang and gently nibble it off. And that's when I clicked close tab, the papyrus edition.

My take is that Ms. Zimmerman's missives are not meant to directly mock the (presumably) real letters that they follow; her versions are just much funnier.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Yes. Maybe. I don't think it is overtly mean spirited (like the wal-mart thing); more in line with Wilson's not overt but mean-spirited-NYer-nonetheless JC Penny thing. It's the low hanging fruit HA HA of skewering the "ladymag" biz.

pattycake (#837)

A doughnut? you were right to toss that Cosmo aside. They don't hold up – try a bagel, cream cheese optional.

libmas (#231)

Balk (or part of him) has spoken to this very issue:


Ronit (#1,557)


Dope. This is dope.

David (#192)


Tulletilsynet (#333)

This is way high art.

Note to Choire: BECAUSE IT'S GOT FORM.

Not that that's a good thing.

Mary HK Choi (#1,469)

Holy yes! MORE please. An entire fall fashion issue in itals voice would make me deliriously happy.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Dear Ms. Zimmermann,

Do Darlene and Wendy know each other very well, up there in Chattanooga?

Sincerely yours,
C. Rock City
Dalton, GA

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