British glossy banishes celebrities and models from covers

Essentials magazine has taken the decision in response to a survey of their readers, who felt that t

Glossy British magazine, Essentials, has decided to no longer feature models and celebrities on its cover pages and instead showcase "real women" without any airbrushing, a first for the industry.

The magazine will feature ten women - professionals, home-makers and business women - aged 34 to 70, on the cover of its October issue. There will also be no models or celebrities in its fashion and beauty spreads.

Essentials editor Jules Barton-Breck said they are responding to the wishes of the magazine's readers. In a survey conducted by the magazine, about 70 per cent of its 5,000 or so readers said they would rather see a real woman on the cover page than a celebrity. Around 72 per cent felt the celebrity culture exerted unhealthy pressure on women.

The move comes amid growing concerns over the effects of altered photos and airbrushing in magazines and advertisements, and the rise in eating disorders and cosmetic surgery among girls and young women.

Recently, the UK Girl Guides initiated an online petition to be sent to Prime Minister David Cameron for mandatory labeling of airbrushed pictures of models and actresses, so that readers could differentiate these from real-world untouched photographs.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.