Alison Garwood Jones

It’s just a phase

October 25, 2011

Journalists go through phases. During and right after I left Elle Magazine, my beat was lipstick. I was the beauty editor. I reported on shade ranges, hero ingredients and cupids bows for years until I finally managed to write my way out of the pink ghetto.

Beauty editor: I looked the part, but didn’t think the part.

Then I started banging out health features and talking to more psychologists and cognitive scientists and fewer makeup artists and dermatologists. Women care a lot about surfaces so it was humbling to move inside the body and take a closer look at things like cell division (the ultimate crap shoot) and neuroplasticity, a new arm of brain science that shows how negative habits and beliefs literally carve pathways in our brain, determining behavior, whereas positive habits can reshape the brain until those old pathways grow over like unattended lots. Neuroplasticity forever puts to rest the assumption that change after a certain age is impossible. Linda Page, a Princeton sociologist and life coach put me onto this. The article where it appears hasn’t hit newsstands yet.

Moving farther away from my powder pink beginnings, I gravitated toward the sharp primary colours of Google and starting having long and winding conversations about creativity and technology with masterminds like Robert Wong who heads up Google’s Creative Lab from the company’s New York headquarters. After that, I talked to the inimitable George Lois, ad man, art director and cultural provocateur.

Still, the surfaces didn’t disappear. They never will. Now when I write about women’s faces and bodies I look at things through my feminist lens, the same one I put in in storage all through the Elle years (it was a source of frustration that no amount of free lipstick could quell). Today, when I can, I use my lens to burn holes through all of our obsessions and warped concepts about women, so many of which start on the newsstand. Hopefully I ignite a few minds too, like here.

© AGJ on

My most recent spate of assignments focuses on dwellings.

Drawing by Marcelo Rampazzo

I appear to be in the “shelter phase” of my career. I have two house profiles on newsstands right now and a third in production.


One is for Design Lines and the other for Canadian House and Home.

Happy reading!





2 responses to “It’s just a phase”

  1. broadsideblog says:

    I see this in my own work…Someone recently commented (wise woman) that my larger themes are very often focused on power and its uses and abuses. My first book was about women and guns (no, it was not all about guns, but the more subtle feminist issue of who has power and who uses it) and my second about retail work — and how powerless retail workers are when working only at low wages.

    I love how our brains get into a groove and, if we have the clips and contacts, we can spin them out along that groove for a while. I did two life-changing classes this summer and both are offering much fodder for stories.

  2. ShelaghH says:

    Another great post Alison. I can't wait to read your article on neuroplasticity.

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