Bodies! Bodies! Bodies?!?!
The Mon Gellar and Phoebs Buffay of newsletters holds forth on midsections, midterms, and mid brand extensions.
What would make the perfect women’s magazine? Juicy yarns, big ideas, deeply personal examinations of women’s lives—and none of the advertiser obligations. Welcome to the Spread, where every week two editors read, listen, and watch it all, and deliver only the best to your inbox.
Never have we ever gotten as many texts about a single item—a single three letter item at that—as when we innocently tacked a certain Jennifer Aniston Allure cover onto the end of last week’s missive. (Caption: WTF.) Yeah, we were a little mystified by the Chanel “nipplekini” of it all, too. At this moment in time, we wondered, does it really benefit Aniston Inc. for the star to waggle her Bionic Woman status in the faces of a female readership? But OK, Jennifer! You do you!1 What got us thinking was a different kind of body talk: her disclosure in the accompanying interview about her long, hard, and ultimately unsuccessful fertility journey. For years, as the tabloids speculated about any hint of “baby bump”—and as her ex procreated prodigiously with Fertile Myrtle Jolie—Aniston was trying, and failing, to get pregnant. The point of her admission now, she says, is to encourage younger women to consider freezing their eggs. We applaud that notion, but hasten to point out the less-discussed side of egg freezing: it also does not guarantee that women (those with the resources to do it) will eventually have a biological baby. This fall, a “bombshell study” showed that only around one in three women who freezes her eggs will end up having a child through the egg-freezing process. Not so long ago, the idea that some women wanted children but were unable to have them was a hard but not uncommon fact of life. Growing up, we all had that aunt or family friend. (Both of your Spreaditors would likely have been that aunt or friend without extensive help from fertility doctors.) Now, in this era of high-tech babymaking, we’re conditioned to believe that anything is possible; many of those who want children erect their visions of their future lives more or less certain that the fertility piece of the puzzle will eventually fall into place. But what nobody talks much about is that sometimes, even when you throw all the experts and money and time and chemicals and acupuncture in the world at the problem, you end up without a biological child. By failing to acknowledge this at the outset, we leave these women culturally high and dry—mentally and emotionally unprepared to deal with an outcome they’ve been told is almost unthinkable and unfairly relegated to the position of outlier. (Readers, if we missed a great essay about this side of the fertility experience, please share it with us! Readers who are also editors: Hope you’re listening!)
So here’s to you, Jen Aniston: Thank you for your vulnerability, for your faith in a waning print magazine to break such personal news in the year 2022 (Godspeed as you fade into your digital-only incarnation, Allure), and even for that nipplekini. While we won’t be donning Chanel’s hot new dental floss (nobody wants to see that), we applaud you, Jen, for making life without kids look pretty damn great in it.
Layering on another turtleneck,
Rachel & Maggie
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“So, it’ll be Call Her Daddy meets Fresh Air.”
Haven’t you heard?! Emily Ratajkowski2 is the new Terry Gross. That is, according to her at least. (Literally: She said as much in Bazaar to writer Thessaly La Force.) This month, the model/writer/actor/provocateur launched a podcast, High Low with EmRata. On it she interviews of-the-moment figures such as Julia Fox, Ziwe, and Call Her Daddy’s Alex Cooper and also presents auditory “essays” about a topic du jour such as “The Ethics of Recording Strangers” and “Sex on the First Date.” For us, the show raised a pretty big question about the woman who’s best known for her body and a book titled My Body: What even is EmRata without the Body? Was there any existing evidence that her power remained intact when stripped of its…visual impact? Also, aim high and all that, but where does anyone get off casually invoking Her Serene Highness, Terry Gross? (That would be like your Spreaditors taping our leotards to our bums and declaring our first floor routine was going to be “like Mary Lou Retton meets Gabby Douglas.” Which: maybe!) While we won’t do a full review here—this newsletter is veering dangerously close to a celebrity-podcast takedown blog—we will share that we’ve listened to the show and echo one Apple Podcasts reviewer in a sentiment that likely won’t shock you: High Low is…mid.
In the Atlantic, Spencer Kornhaber validates my long-held theory that Drake is, sorry, a douche3—taking on the case of the rapper, a self-proclaimed “feminist” whose new album, Her Loss (I mean, barf), simultaneously shouts-out abortion rights and throws gasoline on the fire of those Megan Thee Stallion conspiracy theories. To recap: Meg accused rapper Tory Lanez of shooting her in the feet in 2020; Lanez denied it; the court case is ongoing; and for no particular reason there is a raging online debate about whether or not Megan made the whole thing up. (Last week, in the wake of the Drake album, Democratic reps Maxine Waters and Sheila Jackson Lee and other members of the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium signed an open letter in support of Thee Megan. Does Drake really want to get on those ladies’ bad side?) Kornaber makes the point that stirring controversy is more than just another savvy way of selling albums:
…at a moment of mounting #MeToo backlash, he has also fed into the sense that reflexively dismissing the stories of women—and in this case, Black women—is edgy and wise. And the fact that a market exists for this kind of thoughtless commodification of someone else’s struggle just proves the dark point that Megan has been making all along. “I’ve realized that violence against women is not always connected to being in a relationship,” she wrote in The New York Times in 2020. “Instead, it happens because too many men treat all women as objects.”
Though douchery4 doubtless helped Her Loss skyrocket to number one, I will no longer stand silent while people write off this misogyny as mere pot-stirring and instead blare “Cognac Queen” from my Prius in protest. —Maggie
Read “For Drake, the Misogyny Is the Message” here.
A few choice words.
When you’re being prepped for surgery, you’re routinely asked to state in your own words what surgery you’re there to have that day. It’s a security measure to make sure the right patient gets the right procedure, and it’s a protocol I got used to over the course of the many fertility-related surgeries I underwent in my midthirties. All of those surgeries run together in my memory, except one: “Why are you here today?” asked the kind nurse. “To have an abortion,” I replied. The nurse’s face fell, her eyes beginning to well. She knew I’d been trying to get pregnant for years, that this 14-week pregnancy was desperately wanted, but that due to chromosomal abnormalities, it would not work out. “Oh, you don’t have to say that word. We can just call it a D&E. A pregnancy loss,” she replied, attempting to comfort me. I wasn’t having it. I wanted to call it what it was: an abortion. Though it was medically necessary—the fetus had no chance of surviving outside my body—I had decided to have the procedure ASAP instead of taking a wait-and-see approach, which could have resulted in the unhealthy fetus languishing and maybe even growing for weeks or months. But was this whole thing a choice, really, when the options were for the fetus to die now or later? In the Hedgehog Review—which it turns out is published in Charlottesville, where I live, through the University of Virginia—writer Adin Lears investigates the “right to choose” framework that has permeated the way we all think and talk about abortion. That framework, she argues, is problematic on many fronts, chief among them that “casting reproductive health care only or primarily in terms of choice makes patients vulnerable to the same conflation of the physical and the moral that structures antiabortion arguments.” It’s also socially exclusive, which the reproductive-justice movement has long argued. And “a choice-centered model of reproductive health is also harmful to the mental and emotional experience of individual patients”—which is where my particular experience bumps up against the framework. The piece is very think-y and sometimes verges on too academic for my taste, but Lears, who also lives in Virginia and whom I may have to call to compare notes, generously weaves in her own experience with pregnancy loss to an enlightening effect.—Rachel
Read “The Right to Care” here.
Thank you sweet little baby Jesus for this makeover.
People, I wasn’t looking for a way to cast a superficial light on Katie Hobbs’s gubernatorial win (!!) over Trump’s highly telegenic election-denying angel of death Kari Lake in Arizona. Google Image made me do it. Throughout the primaries, the one big national headline about Hobbs was that she was too low-key—she was “sluggish,” she wasn’t out there fighting hard enough. She was said to be leading a lackluster campaign, and had refused to debate Lake. So sure, you can chalk her win up to Trump extremism alienating voters. But I’m just saying, her 18,575-vote margin of victory is not not related to this extreme upgrade.—Maggie
A few years ago Fran Hoepfner got an IUD. Now she’d like to have it removed. Simple, right? The answer will haunt you. For Gawker last week, Hoepfner delivered a horror story on this subject that made me cross my legs so tight I almost passed out. It’s part memoir and part PSA—with Gawkery vinegar to spare—that will leave you furious and wondering, “uh…where are my IUD strings?” In other harrowing prescription news, this time courtesy of the Cut: Anybody know where I can score some Ozempic?—Rachel
Read “Who Will Remove My IUD?” here.
Read “You Might Go Through Hell for Your Post-Ozempic Body” here.
What do you wear to Trump your kid sister’s nuptials?
Did you catch Ivanka’s Princess Jasmine styling for her sister Tiffany’s Mar-a-Lago nuptials this past weekend? I usually assiduously ignore the lifestyles of the overprivileged and morally bankrupt, but this one got me: As if Tiffany hadn’t always existed in Ivanka’s shadow, now even at her own rehearsal dinner she has to play the humble Wedding Skipper next to Supermodel Barbie? (Could Ivanka twist that knife any harder?) The real question is, what will the Conservateur make of it? My goodness, you can just feel the nice, presumably liberal folk over at Coveteur cringing. In the New Yorker, Antonia Hitchens brings us blood-curdling tidings of this new online style rag, a “Vogue, But for Trumpers.” It’s true that conservatives love clothes too—and that a certain old school Dallas-meets-Nashville glam has officially gone the way of the elephant. And now that the Trump administration gave Vogue, Bazaar, et al. a free pass to stop pretending to cover the glamourpusses on both sides of the aisle—these days, the fashion books wouldn’t touch Lara Trump in a flowing magenta gown with a 30-foot pole—these Crimson Tiders need a new place to call home. A place to discuss “pro-life branding” with Mike Pence, for example. To learn how to shop on an inflation-busted #BidenBudget. And to purchase a bright-pink “Make America Hot Again” hat. (Lara Trump loves hers.) Still, in the wake of an election that demonstrated how much harm Trump has actually done to the Republican party, it will be interesting to see where the loyalties of the sort of Melania and Ivanka wannabes the Conservateur courts (one pictures Casey DeSantis, who wore a golden gown worthy of a night out at the Disney Castle for her husband’s acceptance speech last week) will land. —Maggie
Read “Vogue, But for Trumpers” here.
Sarah, smart and baller.
Hear ye, hear ye! As Spread regulars (and my bikini waxer and my mail carrier and so on) know, I’ve been awaiting with bated breath for the slate of Sarah Polley profiles that will undoubtedly come with the wide release of Polley’s latest film, Women Talking, in December…and The Big One landed with this week’s New Yorker! Like the best New Yorker profiles, this one comes from an author (in this case Rebecca Mead) who’s been tracking her subject for years and can therefore offhandedly toss off a detail that she learned over dinner in Toronto in 2011. Ah, satisfying. Bon appetit!—Rachel
Read “Talk Therapy” here.
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Speaking of professional hotties of letters (or something), the Cut has an excerpt of Paulina Porizkova’s new memoir, No Filter, which is ostensibly about the absurdity of teenage models selling anti-aging products but is really about the deeply screwed up and sad fashion-industry dynamic between predatory men and models who are in fact still children. Read “I Was the Ideal Woman” here.
One of our kids recently used the term “douche”—a term I cannot stand (Maggie, how could you)—earning them a moment of radically honest parenting: Do you know what a douche is, actually? Let me tell you, in detail… I am confident none of them will be using that term in my presence ever again.—RB
Meanwhile, I am leading the campaign to bring the word back. Kids, if you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!—Love, Aunt Clairee