If you thought soul-crushing — but kind of exhilarating — career makeovers were limited to mousy Vogue assistants, read rock writer Lizzy Goodman’s excellent account of working as an editor-at-large for an unnamed (but easily googleable) music magazine, published in Elle today. After the brief validation high of securing her dream job, Goodman was promptly made aware of all her inadequacies in a big makeover montage designed to prepare her to represent the magazine on cable news (“a hipster avatar who could speak intelligently about Christina Aguilera while the rest of the staff did the real writing”), complete with sassy one-liners from stylists.
“You don’t pluck your eyebrows, you ‘tweeze’ them,” chastised one of the men in filmy silk shirts who had been assembled for the project. I asked whether I’d still be able to wear my signature red lipstick with this new hair. “Honey, of course you will,” he said. “What do you think — we’re going to make you look cheap? We’re gay!” After a dizzying amount of information about the notorious “TV eye” makeup technique (responsible for that maniacally alert look favored by most on-air personalities) and the genius of Armani foundation (which is pretty genius), I was transformed. Gone, my long brown hair and pale, freckled skin. New Lizzy had an asymmetrical copper bob and a tan. As the publicist paid the thousand-dollar-plus bill, Dolce and Gabbana’s dad pulled me aside and whispered, “Do you eat dinner?” Confused, I nodded yes. “Stop,” he said, sending me on my way.
Not that her bosses were shy about telling her she needed to lose weight, either.
“I walked around in a sort of fugue state, going through the motions of existence like I was following a manual. … Lizzy is someone who chooses not to be offended when her boss invites her up to his office to chat about how fat Britney Spears looked on TV the previous night, then has his publicity director offer to have the company pay for Lizzy to join a gym. Lizzy is fine with spending the following Tuesday afternoon at an Equinox, having her body fat pinched by a personal trainer with bad skin. “It was like living with a soldier,” my then boyfriend recalls. “You seemed really angry; you were watching a lot of Alias.”
Sadly, Goodman never throws the proverbial BlackBerry in the fountain. As she puts it, “For a rock girl, I wasn’t very punk rock.” But on the bright side, this is one old-media parable where the recession saves the day. Guess who got put to work among the writing and editing staff — where no one pays your Sephora budget — after financial problems beset the magazine?