We googled 'single woman' and got this picture
As much as I love the catty joy I get from a good giggle at the front pages of the latest glossies, there comes a time when a girl has got to look at what the media is trying to project onto her and wonder long and hard whether this has stopped being a harmless joke and has actually signified the end of Life As We Know It. Not the lamentable TV show, more the disruption of the status quo.
After the few blissful years of being the new mag kid on the block, every rag has to settle down into ticking a box. And it would seem that, finally, Grazia have found theirs. They're the tabloid equivalent of Martha Stewart Weddings.
As soothing as this classification will be to them during editorial meetings from now on ('yes, but is it BRIDE?') it's started to disturb me that they are pitching the same audience, but they'll selling material that's ten years too far in advance.
For every Bonnie Wright, there's hundreds of non-Wrights who are NOT engaged before they get their A-level results, and Grazia wants to be our friends while subtly trying to bring us round to the Wife Manifesto. Of the seven headlines gracing the cover of this week's issue, four are related to marriage. And let's not start on last week's 'Kate-off' where two new wives were pitted against eachother. Why the Grazia ladies didn't take me up on the SEO-bating suggestion of a follow-up 'Katy vs Katie Divorcing Divas' double whammy I'll never know.
My excitement was piqued when I encountered the goldmine of a headline 'The six reasons why you're not married...apparently!' The parody mill went into overdrive, spun further into a tailspin when, upon further inspection of the article, it transpired that the article was inspired by a link-baiting column on the Huffington Post by one Tracy McMillan - serial divorce, outspoken, and with rather fabulous hair (who apparently writes about Mad Men, be still my spinning head). AKA Grazia's dream spokesperson.
One of Grazia's perky unmarried cohorts is sent (a year and a half too late- get with the times, Grazia) to debunk said six reasons that Tracy claims are the reasons why I'm alone, unimpregnated and without a Cath Kidston apron on a Tuesday night (stereotype would be Grazia's, not mine - I know some fabulous wives and mothers). They are as follows.
1) You're a bitch.
Tracy helpfully pulls the handy prop of her 13-year-old son out of her proverbial closet and says that since he is only interested in video games and Kim Kardashian, this means that no grown man wants a woman smart enough to challenge him. This put me in mind of one of the vox pops in the early Sex and the City seasons where, when asked about their requirements in a partner, a teenage boy confesses 'I only date girls with Sony playstations. Or breasts.' I'm with Tracy on the idea that the 'average man' doesn't grow up, but only if the average man is the one that is presented to us in Nuts magazine. Because said average man is designed to be the ying to the bimbo babe peddled by Grazia and its ik's yang. They've Carrie Bradshaw and Chris Moyles. Neither are real, sexy, or marrying material. This is what most of Tracy's statements will trivialise you into being classed as. And, quite frankly, if you DO aspire to be as simplistic as Carrie, maybe that's the issue first and foremost.
This links nicely into Point Two...
2) You're shallow.
Aside from being a materialistic twerp, Carrie is also incredibly shallow, basic and clueless (I've always thought this given that, in one episode, she refers to the ancient Greeks as 'primitive'. They understood hydroelectricity). And so are the women who gravitate towards bridal magazines in the hopes of swooning over a nice dress, or perving over the male model posing as the groom. These are the women that Tracy is against, suggesting that if a woman isn't married, despite having dated for long enough, she hasn't found a man she wants to marry because she isn't looking for one. While this might sound empowering, Tracy knocks it on the head by suggesting that all women who aren't married haven't found the perfect piece of marriage material are too busy looking for the socially acceptable version of Harry Styles. Who, thankfully, 100% of Grazia readers don't fancy. Looks like it's time to kick the habit, editorial ladies. But again, Tracy is right - if you're looking for a man who will make the perfect editorial-style groom, chances are it won't last as long as your Botox job does. Ah well. That's what divorce lawyers are for.
3) You're a slut.
Is she really going on with this? Aside from suggesting that cavorting like a Kardashian in a hot tub with half the cast of Made in Chelsea is not becoming behaviour of a bridge, Tracy trots out the old argument about a woman's brain releasing a chemical that causes her to emotionally attach after sex. I can testify to the effects of said chemical, and don't doubt that it's a powerful thing that only gains potency, even if only in a placebo-style effect, when you are the last serial shagger in a sea of Smug Marrieds. Here Grazia trots out the old 'I know tonnes of sexy 30-somethings totally owning the one-night-stand' line. Pity these poor women who are being waved as a flag up and down the country by girls like the Grazia writer that, should your boyfriend dumb you on your 29th birthday there is hope. But if there's one thing all these opinionated articles about how women should behave has proved, we've never been better at making our own choices.
But life-affirming aside. Let's get back to the ego-trashing. Aha...
4) You're a liar.
'I LOVE jazz.' 'No, I don't have a problem with you still being friends with your ex who keeps that photo of the two of you as her profile picture.' 'Of course my mother doesn't know that about you.' All little lies that we tell ourselves to make a relationship a little sweeter. But the lies Tracy is referring to tie right into the one mentioned above - you're lying to yourself about wanting more than sex from a relationship. I've lied to myself that various exes will change, that previous boyfriends would make perfect husband material if I was the type to get married at 22, and that I can see myself being married to any of them. The biggest lie we tell ourselves is the one that we know the future. We all gasp inwardly as Summer Finn tells Tom Hanson in 500 Days Of Summer that love is just a fantasy, then lambast her for ditching doting Tom in favour of a mystery man who likes Oscar Wilde. Charlotte York dreamed of the male model in the bridal magazines, then found happiness with a short, yet sweet, bald Jew. If Tracy wants us to stop lying, then the one lie that we should all agree to stop peddling is the notion of the dream man being anything like the man of our dreams. And that includes YOU, Grazia.
5) You're selfish.
Betty Draper gave up her hopes and dreams to be a Mrs. She stood in her front garden shooting pidgeons out of her neighbour's tree and verbally and physically abuses her daughter.
This is a deeply perplexing one, as Tracy seems to hate on the women who spend their days expecting to be able to think about themselves when married, but suggests that women who want children should just go and get them, husband aside. Stunningly selfish, non, to take the Madonna route of just picking a child like you would a new handbag. Just as selfish as the notion Tracy dismisses of having children with your husband to 'weed out the lotharios'. What IS this? Are children now collateral damage in Tracy's quest for the perfect partner? How selfish can you get?
6) You're not good enough.
That point title is misleading, and this is one that's thrown even Grazia - after all the bitching Tracy comes over all soft and suggests that all we need to do to find happiness is accept that marriage is not going to bring it. I'm very much hope this was dismissed after Point Two - if you're just looking for an excuse to wear a big white dress then you're probably Muriel. And she was full on mental. What Tracy actually means is you haven't actually figured out what you want from marriage and thus think you're not fit to fill the wifey shoes as outlined last week, in Grazia, in the Kate vs Kate bootcamp bulletpoints.
Because here's the overwhelming, laughable irony of Grazia taking the time to debunk a series of modern myths about marriage. And thankfully, it's not just us who noticed.
Bravely, Grazia have started publishing even the less flattering of their fan letters, and it relieves me to know that I'm not the only one laughing the notion of dressing like a wife out of the door. 'Reclaim the word wife!' How about we ban it all together, as it seems to have done about as much good for relationships as Valentine's Day? And how about we stop asking the very same magazines that are damaging our self-esteem to help redefine the rules for a modern relationship. Rather like looking to the Mail to read an article about why women in their '50s are depressed due to poor body image, then note the average age range of their readership.
So, to keep things light, here's a list of the REAL six reasons why you're not married.
1) You're single.
2) You're a spambot, in which case get off this site.
3) You're an animal, vegetable or a mineral. Pretty sure none of those believe in marriage.
4) You haven't met the right guy yet.
5) You're Liz Jones.
6) You don't WANT to be.
And hey, if it makes you happy, it's fine to be any of them.