Sometimes magazines make promises they can't keep on their covers. The cover-touted "Once Burned, Twice Shy: One Woman's Tale of Tanning Abstinence" in next month's Vogue is not an example of this. What you see is what you get: this is the story of a single woman, Joan Juliet Buck, not claiming to represent any sort of emerging trendlet, who simply doesn't lay out in the sun. Because she is allergic. What happens when she attempts to you ask? Well, she gets a rash. Surely this allergy has had, at one point or another, made for a somewhat more eventful reaction than a rash? No! In the story's defense, it does not, like the 972 other solar-themed stories in women's magazines this month and every summer month since time immemorial, mention the "skin cancer" phenomenon that has scared so many women out of the sun and into the Mystic tanning booths in recent decades. (Memo to Anna Wintour: I personallyabstain from microdermabrasion AND deep tissue massage, think we could get a 1,500 word contract out of that?) But back to cancer, which afflicts First Lady candidate Elizabeth Edwards, the subject of a very very long Vogue profile on page 152, past most of the pretty people and the fashion shoots and the incredibly compelling piece on the woman of utmost importance that is Arden Wohl.
So Elizabeth Edwards has terminal bone cancer. How terminal? Good question! But not one they asked! She gets chemo and a bone-strengthener pumped into her veins everyday. That must suck! Not really discussed. Still, you know, to want to ride out the years of one's life shedding and barfing and being tired all the time in the preposterously stressful situation that is a Presidential campaign — what's that about? The shortage of strong Democratic candidates and plethora of charismatic Republicans running this time around? (which is to say, NOT?) Strong beliefs? Naked ambition? Hey! What about that new book out by that old Edwards consultant that makes him out to be an almost pathologically ambitious disloyal opportunist? Has the writer even heard of it? Who cares! Bet cancer will make her skinny!
She has also managed to change into a different pair of pants, some pink-and-yellow pique Lilly Pulitzers, and even though they clash, mightily, with the floral print on the enormous sofa she is curled up on, she looks really pretty in her long-sleeved pink T-shirt...She is barefoot (a pair of battered yellow suede Mephisto sandals are on the floor where she has kicked them off), she wears no jewelry except her wedding rings, and her auburn hair is pulled back off her face on each side by gold barrettes that once belonged to her elder daughter, Cate, now 25. When I tell her how good she looks, she says "Right, no sleep, no makeup"; when I comment on how much weight she's lost, she jokes that "you haven't walked behind me yet."
Queasy yet? Wait till we post on the LESS substantial pieces in the magazine.