GLAMOUR is a damn fine name for a magazine, if you ask me, because glamour is a damn fine concept. It's one I've been pursuing for most of my life. I've got this theory that some people - lots of us, I suspect - are born glamorous, in the way others are born gay. Glamour is a fundamental part of who we are, who we want to be. We'll spend our lives chasing it down. Seeking it out. Assimilating it into our day-to-day business. Getting lost in the shiniest pop videos, learning all the lyrics so we can lip-synch with extra vigour. Hanging out in the beauty halls of department stores testing the brightest lipsticks. We paint our nails in any downtime.
We get a thrill because we just ordered a cocktail, and cocktails are glamour in liquid form. We delight in sunglasses because they're instantly applicable glamour (with the added function of protecting our eyes from the sun/hiding the evidence of any hangover, aka: a win-win situation). We experiment with halo braids (again).
I've always been proud of it; glamour-seeker is who I am, and everyone else is just going to have to live with it. Not that there's anything unpleasant about life with, or near, a glamour-seeker, I should add. Oh, we may insist that you sit through a Taylor Swift video or three, dissecting the narrative arc described within, but how is that a waste of time? We may re-apply our eyeliner just to pop to Sainsbury's Local, but who are we hurting?
The first time I realised I wanted 'in' on glamour, was the first time I watched Grease. I was nine or thereabouts, and in no way a glamorous person. But then, glamour at nine would be precocious, to the point of inappropriate. Let's just say I wasn't showing any signs of glamorous potential. I wasn't one of those neat, matchy-matchy girls with the beguiling smiles and the themed bedrooms, who always get picked to play Mary in the school Nativity, who always got chased by the boys during playground fun times. I was a curious-looking child with bad hair, worse clothes and sticky-out teeth. I wasn't pretty, I wasn't popular, I wasn't cool; I was getting by.
But then, there I was, watching the final scenes of Grease, during which Sandy seduces Danny, following a Pink Lady glam-over which involved the switching of her cardigans, midi-skirts and books for disco pants, off-the-shoulder-tops, mules and a fag she couldn't smoke. I watched that sequence and something clicked. Something marvellous and potent. That was what it was all about! Becoming glamorous! Glamour would make everything OK! Glamour would make things fun and possible and powerful and easy! And so I resolved to be glamorous, on the spot.
Unfortunately glamour wasn't that easy to come by - not in 1980s Devon, and not when you're nine. But in my late teens I left home for what was, it turned out, a profoundly glamorous university and I acquired a cool boyfriend who lent me glamour by association. When I graduated, glamour drove me to seek out a job in a cocktail bar in Covent Garden.
Ultimately, I made glamour my career. I left the bar for a job in fashion PR, I left that for a job writing on a women's magazine, which would become a job writing for pretty much everything. If journalism isn't always entirely glamorous, don't let anyone tell you it's entirely without glamour, either. Even if a celeb behaved hideously to me, for the most part they're pretty people leading hilarious lives, and I get to interview them. Flying economy class to LA for 48 hours to chase some story or other is knackering, but it's a heady, funny kind of knackering. Not that anyone has to be a journalist to make glamour an integral part of their lives, obviously.
There are ways and means: glamour tweaks, hacks and highlights that can be integrated into all our lives. Glamour is there for anyone who wants it. It's the sparkle in your kitsch phone case, it's the bounce in your Batiste-enhanced blow-dry. It's wondering what Beyoncé is doing RIGHT NOW.
Which would be completely brilliant… except that glamour has a terrible reputation. It's considered silly and worthless, beneath us - possibly dangerous. The defining concern of lightweight people, of vacuous and shallow types who have nothing more pressing on their brains than developments in Kim Kardashian's bottom. Glamour is personified in the modern culture of celebrity 'obsession'; it drives young people to ignore their studies and their inner life, in favour of taking selfies and auditioning for reality TV.
Oh, I have encountered much dissent while trying to be a bit more glamorous or trying to share the glory of glamour with the world. As a journalist, I often find readers objecting to my fascination with style and celebrity culture, glitz and incoming fashion trends. "Less of this trash, give us news!" one online commenter pronounced last week, after I had the audacity to publish a denim-trend piece in his broadsheet newspaper, without first seeking his permission. I tried to explain that there is room for both fashion and news in a newspaper. He wasn't having it. "News or shoes," a fashion writer friend told me when I rang her for a bitch about it. "These people seem convinced that shoes take up the space which would otherwise be occupied by news, and we're on a mission to rot their brains with talk about the pros and cons of a wraparound sandal."
"But it's so annoying!" I said. "And it wasn't shoes, it was jeans!"
"I'm making a general point, and 'news or shoes' rhymes. Do be quiet," she said.
For some years, I wrote a cocktail bar review column for another newspaper, which I voiced as a faded, debauched It Girl. Y'know, for the laughs. For years I was bombarded with post about how ridiculous I was. I got the same when, in 2003, I wrote about the great switchover from bootcut to skinny jeans; and in 2012, when I declared my love of Made In Chelsea. This is the thing about glamour. It is widely considered a bit dodgy. We shouldn't waste our brains thinking about being glamorous, or our cash indulging it, right?
No. Wrong. Bullshit, actually. Those who are uncomfortable with glamour are missing the point. There is an assumption that anyone who is in thrall to it (like me) is too stupid to care about anything else, but that's just not true. We have enough space in our brains to think about lipstick and politics, Amal Clooney's wardrobe and her work as a leading human-rights lawyer. We just do.
I take on a lot of these ideas in my book Hot Feminist because I want to make it clear that politics and a devotion to glamour can coexist happily within the same woman. That glamour needn't stop you being strong, empowered, ambitious and creative. In fact, it can help. It pushed me into a perfect job, for starters. Being interested in glamour is no different to being interested in football, say. Or cooking. Or architecture. Or any of the other myriad things that divert us in life.
Being interested in celebrities is only really being interested in the human condition, the soap opera we're all living, played out in glorious Technicolor by the people with the fancy clothes and teeth. Their heartbreak is the same as ours; their joy is the same. And being interested in make-up and clothes - that's about how you assert yourself, how you demand attention and respect.
Glamour is fine. Glamour is good for you.
Ultimately, glamour is everything I hoped it would be when I watched Grease and resolved to possess it. Cheering, escapist, fun and energetic. Comforting because no matter how grim aspects of my life get, glamour is always there, a little shell of happiness and light relief in the pocket of your favourite jacket, reminding you of sunny days on the beach, every time your fingers encounter it.
Hot Feminist (£14.99), published by Hodder & Stoughton, is out now