I know that editors, like managers or CEOs, will always come under fire or question for something. However, I always found that my time as editor of Living and Loving, was sometimes the one that I had to answer the most to whether it was my own parenting, our choice of cover moms and featured babies, and even competition winners (always drawn randomly).
I guess we are easily sensitive to what people might be saying about ourselves as mothers, and even worse, what our articles or choice of pictures could be suggesting about their kids. I was once accused of being racist because we didn’t feature one mom’s baby on our pictures page.
I took it very seriously, and went through seven issues’s worth of magazines to see the racial mix, and to see whether this mom had a point. The mix looked fair, and when I suggested having coffee with this mom, I never heard back. I also explained that we used to get over 100 pictures each month, that we could only fit around eight on a page, and that many pictures were obscured, or taken off a Blackberry (sorry Blackberry!), and therefore had a lower resolution than what would look decent in print.
Then there was the time someone wrote in and told me that she didn’t like her body, and I tried to give her a pep talk, and some tips I had pulled off previous articles we had published, only to get a reply that she wanted our magazine to sponsor cosmetic surgery and liposuction for her (clearly my “pep talk” had no effect). And in case you’re wondering, we didn’t sponsor her surgery, for so so many reasons.
But the hate mail that hurt the most came after an article we published on smacking. It was a well-written and balanced piece, with input from several experts, and the overall feeling was that one shouldn’t smack. Yet some moms thought it was fitting to send me nasty emails and posts on Facebook accusing me of irresponsible journalism, and blaming me for all the child smackers who would emerge after they read the article.
And I could handle that. But then some of the messages got personal, and I was accused of being a bad mom who advocated smacking and “abuse” (which isn’t true). One more also cottoned on to the fact that my son was therefore circumcised, and had a go at me for this, suggesting that I might as well pull off his nails and tear out his hair as it was the same thing.
I then engaged with her on my religious beliefs, and how circumcision was a “commandment”, but by then it was too late, and I was labelled a child abuser.
And then there was the time a reader emailed all of us in the office to find out what products we used on our skin as we all looked amazing. I can’t remember what I answered, but it might have been Photoshop.