There are thousands of emails stored on my hard drive, but none of them carry the emotional wallop of the letters and cards I’ve squirrelled away in a plastic container my husband calls my “box of memories.” There are sappy love notes, sweet birthday cards from friends and handwritten letters from my family that I received while travelling through the Middle East and Asia during the pre-WhatsApp era. I couldn’t afford to call home, so my family sent notes to postes restantes in the various cities I visited. I remember arriving at the New Delhi post office and asking the clerk if there were any letters for Noreen Flanagan. When he returned with a bundle of notes held together with twine, I burst into tears. Every time I open the plastic container, I think about throwing out some of the letters, but that never happens. My most recent trip down memory lane had me laughing over a letter from my first crush, whom I met on a camping trip when I was 12. We exchanged a few letters before I was dumped. “I don’t like longdistance relationships and I don’t like you, so I won’t be writing again,” he wrote. If I didn’t have this written evidence of my first heartbreak, would I have remembered it? Probably not, and that’s one of the drawbacks to life—and love—in the digital age. Last year, I wrote a blog about a Korean app called “Between” that I’d read about in The New Yorker. The founders of the app said they wanted to create “a beautiful space where you can share all your moments only with the one that matters.” They came up with the idea because, they said, they were suffering from “social-network fatigue” and their online lives lacked intimacy. According to New Yorker writer Lauren Collins, they turned to self-help books to get an understanding of how one creates intimacy. They concluded that shared memories and private communication were crucial, so they developed a private online space where a couple can exchange voice and text messages and photographs. (You can only have one contact: your partner.) There’s also a feature called the “Memory Box,” where notes and photos can be stored as keepsakes. But perhaps apps like Between don’t entirely satisfy our desire for intimacy. In “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (page 94), associate editor Sarah Laing explores the letter-writing renaissance behind the #snailmailrevolution. “People realize that they miss the warmth of letters, the physicality of actually writing and that real sense of delight you get when you receive a letter because it’s such a rare thing,” historian Simon Garfield tells Laing. I feel that way when a reader pens me a note, like the one I received from Gosia Dambek in Poland. She collects ELLE magazines, and she wanted a copy of ELLE Canada. She wrote: “...that you can send to me just one issue ELLE Canada, it will for me unimaginable enjoy! Simply the fulfillment of my dream.” If Gosia had emailed me, I might not have felt inspired to immediately act on her request. After the issues were sent, I wrote her an email thanking her for her lovely note. #irony
Beauty Grand Prix The results are in! Turn to page 141 to check out which products the jury of ELLE Canada readers decided you can’t live without, and then turn to page 149 to find out how to be on next year’s jury.
There’s a digital theme woven into the stories throughout this issue, which is why Maybelline’s Gigi Hadid was the perfect cover girl. In “Gigibyte” (page 76), she tells beauty director Vanessa Craft that social media allows her to create a new level of connection with the people who support her: “Now you can be someone’s favourite model because of how they connect with you on Twitter.”