Dear Magazine, a woman's weight is not the most interesting thing about her.

Hands up who cares about Margie Abbott’s weight?

Margie Abbott fascinates me. In interviews I’ve found her to be articulate, warm and full of empathy. She’s the type of woman I’d like to sit next to at a dinner because there are 100 things I’d like to ask her. And none of them have to do with how much Margie Abbott, wife of our Prime Minister, weighs.

From Margie Abbott: ‘Tony doesn’t have a problem with women.’

Which is why I found it ‘jarring’ when on my Facebook feed yesterday I saw this:

The post that appeared on AWW’s Facebook yesterday.

What the what?

“How Maggie Abbott lost 20 kilograms”?

Let’s be clear. This is not a slap down of the Australian Woman’s Weekly. That’d make me a hypocrite. I BUY the Weekly.  I’m a fan. And not least because they’re bold enough to put women like Rosie Batty on the magazine’s April cover.

BUT. The other cover line.

This is how magazines think they’ll sell me a story on Margie Abbott?

It’s a rare-as-hens’-teeth, in-depth interview with Australia’s First Lady and it’s hooked on her weight-loss? Do we really think her WEIGHT is the most interesting thing about her?

I will now confess to the fact that I’ve haven’t read the whole article. I can’t. The April edition of the AWW isn’t out until tomorrow. But I don’t need to. The extract on the AWW website tells me the “wide-ranging” interview covers Margie’s thoughts on Peta Credlin, her struggles with being Australia’s “First Lady”, her feelings on the prospect of the Prime Minister being turfed from office, how Margie met Tony, their first date and the night he proposed. I’m assuming it also covers Margie’s former work as the director of a community childcare centre in Sydney. And yes, the feature article ALSO covers Margie’s recent 20-kilo weight loss.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no issue with hearing about Margie’s weight loss.  It’s significant. It was for health reasons. It’s a great reminder to all of us about Type 2 Diabetes and the importance of diet and exercise.


“How Margie Abbott lost 20 kilos”?



We’re reducing this interview with the wife of our Prime Minister to how much she weighs?

Someone’s weight – in my opinion – is the least interesting thing about them.

Tell me how you define success. Tell me how you spend your Sunday mornings. Tell me about the object you value most in the world. Tell me what books are on your bedside table. Tell me how you want to be remembered. Tell me if you’ve watched the Katering Show or what you think of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler or which charity has the biggest hold on your heart. Tell me about your biggest regret and greatest triumph.

Your weight? I could not care less about how much you weigh.

But I’m clearly alone, or at least in the minority.

Because the Australian Women’s Weekly aren’t fools. The editor, Helen McCabe, is one of the best in the business.

That cover line has been used because it’s what we (the bonkers general public) want.

Helen McCabe and her team have used that cover line because their research tells them WEIGHT LOSS stories still sell magazines.

That’s the truth of it.

For about half an hour this morning I wanted the Australian Women’s Weekly to lift their game. But then I realised, it’s not them.  It’s us. It’s all of us. We need to lift ours.

Magazines respond to us. They reflect our interests and prejudices and dreams back at us. If we stop thinking weight is the most interesting thing about women, if we actively change that conversation, then they will follow us.

They’ll have to.

It’s 2015. Let’s get over our obsession with other women’s weight.

UPDATE: Mamamia has received a response from Helen McCabe. She wrote:

“I accept the criticism but my main objective is to find something that is interesting to the majority of our readers. And while politics is interesting to me experience tells me that it would not interest the majority of readers. And to be fair it is an area of interest for Mrs Abbott who has quite a serious message to women of all ages.”