This morning in the doctor’s office waiting room, I leafed through a copy of Ladies’ Home Journal and landed on an article called, “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Cleavage.” The article pairs tips for covering up your cleavage with a sidebar of celebrity’s “buzzworthy boobs.”
This is a real article. And it would be perfect fodder for the new women’s magazine parody website Reductress. Just launched last week, Reductress takes aim at media stuffed with “buzzworthy boob” profiles the way The Onion spoofs newspapers.
Among all the comedy online, Reductress stands out as genuinely fresh and funny. Just look at these headlines:
Writers Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo are the brains behind the operation. Newell honed her comedy skills as a contributor to the Onion News Network and noticed how jokes landed differently among the all-female sketch comedy groups she’s a part of.
“Jokes about the ridiculous repetitive images in women’s commercials kept coming up, like making fun of yogurt commercials,” says Newell. “The response was so loud from everyone. You get a lot of comedy writers’ rooms and projects that are male dominated and when you tell these kind of jokes in those rooms, they don’t get a response. These jokes are actually funny, they just weren’t being shown to the right audience. “
The inspiration for Reductress is obvious. Newell, Pappalardo, and the site’s writers find plenty of comedic material among the myriad mainstream women’s mags and lifestyle blogs. One section of the site “Womanspiration” takes a leaf from the New Age-consumerism ethos that Oprah pioneered.
Newell explains the thinking behind one headline: “Creator of ‘Rape in America’ Documentary Talks About Hair Care.’”
“No matter what a woman does in the news, no matter how serious it is, her appearance is constantly either praised or criticized,” says Newell. “I would do some comedy shows in the city and people would always come up to me after the show and comment on my hair.”
The goal of the site is not to force that insufferable culture to change, but to make the audience aware of the ridiculousness of a lot of women-centered media.
“I don’t think The Daily Show has changed the big 24-hour news networks, but now when you see CNN screw up a headline, everyone is aware of how stupid it is,” says Newell. “It creates more of an awareness in the culture.”