I started reading CLEO magazine in my early teens, at the time it was so scandalous. It was the sophisticated step up from DOLLY Mag that my mum didn’t want me to see. Naturally, in all my teenage rebellion, it became all I wanted to read.
CLEO magazine taught me and generations of other young Australians how to be a woman. We would giggle as we educated ourselves on sex or learn how to find our fashion style; and who could forget the Bachelor of the Year? Cleo magazine was the first time I saw a naked man, or at least naked with a towel covering his junk.
Now after 44 years in the biz CLEO is coming to a close. My teenage self wouldn’t understand why but it leaves me thinking about the young women of today. Does CLEO magazine really speak to them? Or is this just a sign of the death of print media?
It is more difficult that ever to run a print magazine, with readership down it’s difficult to get finance from advertisers to run a magazine. Most advertising backers now will split their payment between print advertising and online advertising for a single publication. Often leaving the print component of the publication not financially viable. Our centrefold CLEO stud is left with no home.
Or has he already found another home? The accessibility of the internet has bought us a plethora of sexy men and women to gawk at, wearing even less then that of the CLEO stud.
This reduction in revenue also leads to a lower standard of work in publications. Working as a model for about 10 years now, I have noticed dramatic cuts to budgets for fashion shoots. Thus making it even more challenging for print fashion media to remain competitive when creating captivating imagery.
Media is also moving towards a more personalised experience for the reader. We no longer have to choose between one magazine or another with what little money our teenage pocket may hold. With platforms like Facebook or Tumblr, you can simultaneously be getting sex tips from a pro, reading about an earthquake in China and watch the trailer for the latest season of Broad City.
It feels like print magazine will soon become relics of the past, perhaps in the same way that vinyl records have, they’ll have very little commercial viability but will soon hold a place in the hearts of hipsters and puritans keeping the print industry chugging along with a niche cool.
On top of the difficulty the print industry is facing, young women have also changed. Teenagers today have grown up with the internet, they can watch the Paris runways as they happen, with out having to wait for the notable September issue.
Feminism has also hit the mainstream, yesterday’s teeny boppers have grown up to be progressive and clued in on topics such as intersectionality and gender fluidity; let’s face it, CLEO was kind of for straight white girls. It can be very challenging for a long standing publications to change its ways. With the prospect of losing their following, these changes can seem like big risks.
CLEO was great and I’ll never forget the days of reading it with my girlfriends in my high school common room, laughing our heads off, being equally embarrassed, excited and intrigued by the content. CLEO taught me the things my mother never could and things she was probably too busy to. It wasn’t just about sex and fashion; it also taught us how to make friends, save your money or how to deal with a break up.
CLEO’s closure is a sign of the times, my youthful nostalgia is running high as the world moves forward in to the next generation of women’s media.
Thanks for the good times, ex oh ex oh