Magazine Nostalgia

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Woman magazine, photographed at Goodwood Revival 2016 © Southampton Old Lady
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Christian Dior – The New Look, which I photographed at the V&A Museum, London
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50s ‘Do it yourself’ magazine. Notice the glamorous plasterer!

I am a magazine hoarder. We are moving so I am, painfully, having to let go of all my magazines and books – keeping just the pages of articles I have written only. My magazines more than anything bring back nostalgia – things I wore, things I made but mainly they reveal attitudes towards women.

Women had to fulfil the manual trades while men were at war – women even built London Bridge!  – But when the war was over, the propaganda department tried to get women back in the home. Glamorous New Look clothing, American-style ‘dream kitchens’ with inventive white goods and beautiful baby prams were everywhere in magazines. But women still had the skills they learnt.

In the 50s Do it Yourself magazine showed you how to build your ‘dream kitchen’ – Rationing went on well into the 50s and if anyone wanted anything they had to do it themselves, Christmas toys, tables – people made everything themselves.

When Woman magazine first appeared it was for the new modern woman who could own her own car, then came Cosmopolitan the sexually liberating magazine – but it really was just about how to please your man in bed and sold you make-up. I worked on the British feminist magazine Spare Rib for a few years and burnt myself out. I still have most of the issues and helped the British Library put them all online. Many of the articles published in them are only just being tackled now. Libraries are getting rid of all their hard copies of magazines, so I don’t know what to do with them. They are too important to throw away.

Magazines nowadays are full of nostalgia Our world is changing so fast,  artificial intelligence, never without instant communication, space tourism – by reflecting on our past we can get a grip of reality before we ‘boldly go’ towards the future.

You might like to see my article on Goodwood Revival – a nostalgia event here

In response to WordPress weekly photo challenge: Nostalgia 

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30 thoughts on “Magazine Nostalgia

  1. Nostalgia, yeah. I can relate to that. I had a great collection of turf magazines from the 60’s-70’s and have to get rid of them when I moved on to marry my wife. It was a pity. I left them all on a container and a few minutes later, when I passed by the container again they were not there anymore; somebody found them of interest and took them all.

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  2. Love this post! I think I might know someone who would love & value your Spare Rib collection as much as you do! I’ll give you a call & I think we’re long overdue for a catch up anyway!

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  3. Since I grew up in the 50s, all this is so familiar. My mother was a Rosie the Riveter during the war, helping to build airplanes and then made her own transition to canapes and cocktails and a safer, more secure life. I hate to hear that libraries are digitizing their collections, and (gasp!) tossing magazines. That is the very definition of short-sightedness, but I’m one of those who’s highly sceptical of the digital revolution. I’m still reading books: a pox on your Kindle. When the Great EMP comes, or whatever else, and there isn’t any more electricity or batteries, I’ll still be able to sit out in the sunshine and read.

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    • I saw the film “Rosie the Riveter” and yes we can do it too! I agree – “a plague on both your laptops!” I can remember the libraries putting everything onto microfilm – who looks at those now?

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  4. I wish I had photographs of my old kitchens as a singleton in London. Do you remember ‘contemporary’ when everything had to be just that? I had crockery in mismatched jewel colours (very contemporary), curtains with abstract design (ditto), the new ‘scatter’ cushions as distinct from those you had for comfort, a Lava lamp, orange boxes for book-cases and record shelves, and a pull-down tabe in the kitchen which was, of course, painted in red and cream. And then came the Lionel Bart musical Fings Ain’t What they Used to Be with the marvellous hymn to 50’s modernity, “Contempory”.

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  5. I remember Woman with great affection – it had a range of articles on all sorts of topics, serials and short stories by good writers, and very little of the so-called “celeb” culture that permeates magazines today. And Spare Rib too. The NZ equivalent was called Broadsheet. I’m sure there are collectors that would snap up your magazine hoard.

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    • Yes I read a few Broadsheets. Many women felt that Spare Rib was too important to throw away – so there are a number of collectors waiting to donate them. There are a few rare issues they are in search of that even I don’t have.

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  6. Oh my goodness! I love those dresses. I’m sorry you have to let go of some of your treasures. Would you be able to keep them in storage or in a locker on land?

    “…by reflecting on our past we can get a grip of reality before we ‘boldly go’ towards the future.” So much truth and honesty in your words. Our past helps define our point of views and shapes our attitudes — very significant parts of ourselves.

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  7. Pingback: Nostalgia: Train Platform | What's (in) the picture?

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