Does reading Grazia make us thick?

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Are middle-class women losing their intellectual edge by wallowing in celeb news rather than current affairs? That’s the question that continued to rumble in the weekend papers following the recent publication of  Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World by American lawyer and television commentator Lisa Bloom.

Her argument is this: well educated, highly capable women are dumbing down by increasingly investing their  time, money and effort in reading about and trying to emulate their favourite celebrities.

While many might reject her book as elitist and strident in its views, I think this is a debate that needs airing.  Much of the PR industry is driven by formidably bright women who are as happy holding forth about the ramifications of super-injunctions as they are about the latest fake tan mousse. And yet my internal alarm bell sounds quite regularly when I’m interviewing potential recruits, a sizeable proportion of whom cheerfully admit to reading nothing but the likes of Grazia.  

Grazia and their ilk are, of-course, invaluable to us.  Celeb culture is here to stay and  we need to be right on top of it to best use it to our clients’ advantage. Besides which, I’ll be the first to concede that it’s fun to look at the glossy pics, discuss the inevitable dramas with your mates, and laugh at the daffy quotes (Nancy Dell’Olio’s unintentionally hilarious eulogy to her own beauty and brilliance in last week’s Sunday Times magazine being a case in point). 

As with most things in life, it’s a matter of balance.  There’s no harm in zoning out with eye-candy reading…as long as the brain gets fed more substantial fare alongside it. All well and good knowing your TOWIE from your Made in Chelsea.  Not so good if you can’t name the Education Secretary.

As a PR consultancy which handles both business-to-business and consumer clients, we often find ourselves teasing news hooks out of Cheryl Cole’s hair extensions and George Osborne’s fiscal policy on the very same day.  It certainly makes for a varied and stimulating workplace.

Having a functioning brain doesn’t mean we have to be po-faced snobs, so let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.