Is it just me, or is "foam" the perfect porn handle? And slugging the midsummer version "the passion issue" seals the deal. What does Foam stand for? Brace yourself: fashion, ocean, art, music. It's like an SAT question for Paris Hilton -- which word doesn't belong? Happily for her, it's a no-brainer. The better question: Why do women's mags shortchange women? A nod to art and music and an overabundance of fashion does not a well-rounded girl make.

This issue, the main reference to ocean is the article on the eight great escapes. Now, I'm a big fan of gorgeous spa/surf getaways -- at least in my dreams -- but there's more to life than sun, sand and Billabong wear. Duck into a library, girls. It will blow your mind.

That's the advice I'd give to Blair Urban, billed as "Graffiti Girl." Van Gogh had his sunflowers, Monet his watery cityscapes. Urban has a penchant for skulls, which, she swears, "don't represent death as much as they represent life." To Hamlet, maybe. To the rest of us, it's a sure sign your hottie days are over.

However, Urban, like Don Quixote, is tilting at windmills. She hopes to reverse our feelings on skulls, which I'm not sure is a realistic goal, like building electric cars or getting your TiVo to work. Plus, she hopes to redefine our take on femininity, claiming it's been usurped by male-dominated ideas, "like conquering and taking over." Ms. Urban has clearly been following the Bush White House and the Gonzales hearings, but women are no slouches in the control department.

Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey created media empires. Or consider the House that Karan Built. At 17, Catherine Cook is co-founder of It ranks third among all social-networking sites in the U.S., behind MySpace and Facebook. That's why Inc. named her one of the coolest entrepreneurs under 30. Women of all ages are redefining femininity and power. They just need better publicists -- especially on the campaign trail.

Still, 4-year-old Foam is targeting a young, hip demo -- and it hits the mark in several ways. First, its motto: "Find your passion and make it happen." As long as your passion is devoted to the Aristotelian worship of the good, the true, the noble and the beautiful, I'm down. If it's buying up the Lower East Side to turn into luxury condos, I wish you the ninth circle of hell.

According to its editor-in-chief, women are "incredible creatures" who have the capacity to go through pain. She cites childbirth, heartache and bikini waxes. The first two are painful and often traumatic. But bikini waxes? Let's get our priorities straight. Women are also muy productive. We're all onboard with celebrating them -- athletes to activists -- who want to make the world a better place, showcased here as the "Fabulous Five." All terrific, but including a few women in lab coats would be a potent reminder that beating down the doors of once all-male enclaves is impressive, too. Or add one of Granta's picks for the top young novelists of 2007: multi-award winner Dara Horn.

Which is why reducing early feminists in this section to protest marchers and bra burners misses the point. These five are here because Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, et. al protested pay inequity, lack of child care and inadequate health care for women, among a host of social and economic concerns. The FFs simply ride on their backs. That doesn't negate their achievements, but it's a reminder that each generation profits from previous ones.

Still, F is for fashion, and Foam boasts a slavish devotion that will please advertisers no end. Billabong, which has several spreads in this issue, also gets an edit plug -- a profile of Mandy Robinson, the company's senior design director. But from a purely advertising perspective, the "12 Signs of Beauty" produces an edit/ad mix that's super-clever. It charts your zodiac sign and pitches a face/body product at the same time. When the stars align, the market shines!

As for the mag's edit, I'm sure many subscribers will revel in the slick fashion photography and enjoy the interview with Amaury Nolasco of "Prison Break." Others, like me, will find the lack of a byline pretentious. Stories in Foam don't have writers; they have "words." Here's one: affected.

Ladies, life isn't all surface. While you ride the wave, remember the strong currents underneath. The forces of humanity -- emotional, sexual, political and intellectual -- are powerful. Salute those who utilize such passions for the greater good -- before we drown in fashion-forward indifference.


Published by: Bluewater Publishing, Inc
Frequency: Bimonthly
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