Gwyneth] doesn’t use a stylist, feels free to chop and change hair and hemline, and personifies flexibility. Follow her lead.” Yes, Anna. After all, any editrix who takes the time to elucidate a Gwyneth theory of Feng Shui deserves all the attention she demands.

Allure Layout: C- There is no layout to speak of. The page has all the stark minimalism of a pulp fiction novel, boasting only one single referencing photo. But, then again, since Linda Wells’s letters usually rock, maybe this month’s page is some sanctified corner of Allure that elevates content over cosmetics.

Content: A-There are really only two types of editors’ letters: the perfunctory, “I’m writing this because I have to” formula, and then the “cathartic/confessional” letter where the editor just needed to vent Linda Wells (and Jane Pratt) usually fall into the latter category. In this installment, Wells examines her conscience after making fun of Michael Jackson during a flight from Paris to New York. After dissing the King of Pop for most of the trip (“Jackson’s fedora suddenly sprang a cafe curtain in black satin from its brim, covering the top half of his face. If his aim was to hide, he was failing.”), Wells then takes herself to task. “I like to think I encourage self-acceptance and tolerance in the pages of Allure, and meanwhile, I gleefully made fun of Michael Jackson’s looks. What a hypocrite.” Linda, stop beating yourself up! Who knows if this was an authentic dilemma for you or whether you just needed to fill the editor’s page this month, but making fun of Michael Jackson is a national pastime. What’s really hypocritical is a celebrity who simultaneously craves both limelight and shadow.

ELLE Layout: C+ The arid, just-the-facts-ma’am font warns off prospective readers: “Do you really want to read this page? It will probably be boring.” Countermanding the off-putting text, however, is a killer shot of windblown, ravishing cover girl Christy Turlington. But relying on a Turlington photo to draw in readers — who Elle has used as a covergirl for years — is an aesthetic trick on an editors’ page that can only be used a few times.

Content: B As opposed to many editors, Elle chieftain Roberta Myers actually has a premise for this month’s entry: the happy news that “there are now more single men than single women in the prime marrying years of 30 to 44.” Even though the image of an America brimming with middle-aged bachelors desperate to get hitched doesn’t synch with most women’s lived reality, this is still a great factoid to start circulating. The problem is that Myers’ lead reads like a Rand Corporation White Paper (“Late last year, the press got wind of a fact the Census Bureau has known for some time…”), while she buries the should-have-been lead (“we don’t have to marry the first sperm donor we find — younger or not”) at the end of the second paragraph. It’s the kind of bad lead only an editor in chief can get away with; any other writer would have it sent back for a rewrite. This quasi-feminist entry then segues rather starkly into a plug for an article about “the new Brava breast pump, [which] promises an increase of one cup size in 10 weeks.” Myers then propels prospective readers — already stimulated by the prospect of larger breasts and marriage around the corner — to near-rapture with the announcement of “a new column by Dany Levy, the genius behind DailyCandy.” But is the person behind DailyCandy truly a “genius,” or just someone who is feeding the habit of the pathological consumer? But, hey, that’s the Elle reader.

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