The princess years

Magazines were a pretty fabulous place to work … back in the day.

I hear they’re fairly soul-destroying now, what with bulldozed budgets and decimated circulations (actually, circulation isn’t even audited any more by most of them because it’s so parlous) and fear of the unknown.

Sure, there were downsides when I occupied a harbourview office at 54 Park Street – the hours and stress were a shocker – but there were SO many perks.

I’ve been reminiscing about the perks ever since my old Cosmo mate Franki Hobson wrote a story about me on her blog. (DD thinks it’s quite hilarious that I’m a maven.)

Franki and I met at Cosmopolitan magazine. I think I was deputy editor at the time and she was doing uni work experience. You’d call it an “intern” these days. Franki was the best intern I’ve ever met. I knew we HAD to hire her as a staffer. She went on to have an awesome career in magazines: Features Director at Cosmopolitan magazine, Editor of Cosmopolitan Hair & Beauty, Bride, Pregnancy and Health magazines and Editorial Director of DOLLY. Now she’s a blogger like me.

But back to the hallowed days in magland … I STILL don’t know how to buy make-up because I had a beauty editor to sort me out from the age of 24 … not to mention “beauty sales” every few months when hundreds of samples were sold off to staff at a buck a piece.

These days, my mum restocks my supplies of foundation, moisturiser, face wipes, eye shadow and blush.

I told a lovely young thing at my hairdressing salon the other day that my mum still buys all my make-up even though I’m 49 and she was aghast.

But back to the hallowed days in magland … there were also lots of lovely professional photo shoots where someone did your hair and make-up for free then provided you with glamorous, heavily photoshopped portraits of yourself afterwards that made you look much younger and prettier than you really were.

And a prime inner-city parking space. And the private jet to Kerry Packer’s property near Scone for the weekend. And the endless invitations to events and openings and premieres filled with free food and booze and celebrities.

And don’t get me started on how much disposable income I had to spend on my fashion weakness: shoes … oh, and Marc by Marc Jacobs shirts and jackets from the US sale racks … preferably visited in Waikiki or Los Angeles on travel “junkets”.

I really had NO idea what the real world was like.

I remember being a little conflicted when I read former Madison editor Lizzie Renkert’s confessional about life post-magland.

She wrote: “So I find myself in a situation that I never thought I’d be in in my 40th year. I am broke. I am watching friends go on incredible family holidays, upgrading their cars, buying the latest bags and shoes that I once coveted, but this just isn’t on the cards for me anymore.”

I thought it sounded a bit “poor princess”, but I also understood exactly how she felt. Even more so now that I’m separated and the proceeds of those editorial director pay checks have been divvied up.

Lizzie had no choice in her fate – her magazine folded and she was made redundant.

It’s hard to walk away: being an editor is the most wonderful job and not just because of the pay packet or the perks. Creating something that’s read by tens (or hundreds) of thousands of women each week is pretty awesome.

Unlike Lizzie, I had a hand in my own fate.

I wasn’t getting to do the wonderful job of being an editor any more, and awful workplace stuff was in play.

I desperately unhappy, but terrified to ditch the fat pay check and endless perks when I had two small children and a mortgage to support.

So I sucked it up until I was a physical, mental and emotional wreck. Finally I decided no amount of free lippie was worth the breakdown that felt imminent.

I got the hell out … and spent the next four years missing magazines every single day.

Now I just miss the shoes. Oh, how a pair of size 9 Siegerson Morrison sandals on sale made my heart sing!

But I miss the sea and DD more. They’re the things – along with my gorgeous daughters – that make my heart sing these days.

It feels like an eternity, even though it’s only days, when I don’t have them in my life.

That’s the stuff that matters. The rest is just window dressing.

Song of the day: Sorry, it’s gotta be “Ita” again

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