Looks vs talent

The world is obsessed with chasing ‘likes’ and followers.

In Summary

• People value you not for your degree, awesome writing, or any real talent, but for beauty.

• I look up to my wall, where every cover that has sold out is framed. My Hall of Fame.

A couple wine and dine
A couple wine and dine

I sign off on the cover with the date under my signature. I have to do this with every page of the magazine to show I have gone through every line and approved it.

That way, if there are mistakes or lawsuits, I take the blame for the whole team. That’s why editors are always sued alongside publishers when we mess up.

I look up to my wall, where every cover that has sold out is framed. My Hall of Fame.


Every single person on that wall is gorgeous. It’s sad but true. Looks sell magazines. And my boss’s mum is NOT a looker. But deep down, I’m ashamed of myself. When I look at that wall, I know that I’m part of the problem. We make success little about talent and mostly about looks, and then we wonder how we are raising a lost generation.

My 15-year-old niece is modelling lingerie. Can you believe it? 15! She is all over the Internet, wearing barely anything and having men twice her age drooling over her underage body. And her mother approves.

Time and time again, she doesn’t attend classes for weeks on end. Again, her mum approves because getting her modelling career off the ground is more important.

Yet, hers is no talent. She is short, not a particularly striking beauty, quite unlikely to grace the cover of Vogue one day. So why throw away her education to chase a dream that may amount to nothing? Why the insane craving for fame? Probably because of magazines like mine. But mostly the Internet. Where the world is obsessed with chasing ‘likes’ and followers. Not for your degree, not for your awesome writing, not for any real talent, but for beauty.

I have a great article someone sent to me in the trash. It’s some of the best writing I’ve ever seen. But I can‘t use it because no one will read it. It’s a romance, with a leading man called Vince and lady by the name Rosa. Here’s an excerpt after the two lovers quarrel after a romantic getaway:

Vince: Let us take a breath and remove ourselves from heated words.

Rosa: I acquiesce. I do not wish to taint cherished memory.


Vince: It should not be darkened by the shadow of unmeasured words.

Rosa: Break kinder words and find comfort in how they are received.

Vince: If the gods have cast us adrift, we must together discover the course to return to the blessings of their shores.

Rosa: The gods themselves cannot keep me from your arms.

Vince: Ask for the moon and I would see it wrestled from their grasp. (They kiss passionately).

Can you imagine that I have thrown that in the trash? Instead I have a socialite telling us how to get perfect skin. “So… errr… okkkurrrr, rub this, like, great, errrr…. Cream on your face, it’s so rad!!!!”

Yes, I sold out. And yes, I’m ashamed. I shift my cursor to the trash and click it open and move the tale of Vince and Rosa back to my desktop. I write a blurb for it.

Remember the days when men were men? When romance was real and men fought for your honour in sword fights? When strong women fought right alongside them and conquered empires? Every month we will take you back into that world with this new and exciting period piece: Vince and Rosa.

I add the writer’s byline and send it to the layout designer with instructions.

‘Anna, remove the page with the skincare routine and replace it with this instead.’

There. One thing to be proud of in next month’s issue.