Everything (Really Is) Fine
A dramatic exit from the toxic magazine world cast uncertainty on Kim France's future, but after launching her own website and podcast for women over 40, she's more content than she'd ever imagined.
In 2010, I was fired—dramatically and publicly—from my position as founding editor in chief of Lucky magazine, a job I’d had for over eleven years. It’s the job I’ll most likely be remembered for, the job I knew couldn’t have looked better from the outside, and the job that rendered me so abjectly unhappy that it was making me quite literally ill. It had never been my goal to be the editor of a glossy magazine, especially one owned by the most fearsome publishing company in Manhattan. But that is what happened.
It had never been my goal to be the editor of a glossy magazine, especially one owned by the most fearsome publishing company in Manhattan. But that is what happened.
I was, from the start, not especially well-suited temperamentally for the job. The business of being an editor came naturally enough, but everything else—attending fashion shows, kissing advertisers’ rings at endless white tablecloth lunches, turning myself into the living embodiment of the brand—did not. I couldn’t bear playing the role required of me, but I never stopped trying to either. Eventually, I became some version of that person I was straining to be, but not a very good one. And as for the woman I was before the big job? The one who liked to go see live music and read graphic novels and even visited museums from time to time for reasons other than black-tie benefits, and had a pretty good idea of who she was? I scarcely remembered her.
But after getting bounced, that changed. Suddenly freed from a thousand concerns, from sluggish newsstand sales to publisher stress to hostile competition within the company, I started feeling around for myself again. And much to my surprise, there I was. It was like the real me was frozen in a block of ice all those years, and now I was thawing in the sun.
The experience of losing a job in a high-profile way was humiliating and demoralizing, true, but it was liberating and even exhilarating as well.
I took a year off. Longer than a year, actually. I knew that I was too burnt out to look for a job, and frankly, I didn’t know what kind of job I even wanted or was qualified for. I got a few offers, but nothing felt particularly right. I had decided long before getting fired that Lucky would be my last magazine job, and I wasn’t entirely certain what I wanted to do instead. At 46, I feared I’d be nobody’s top choice for any job. I felt, in some meaningful ways, that my career was maybe over.
And as far as some were concerned, it was. Because I didn’t even try to follow up with another big job, which I guess did not go unnoted: For a long time after Lucky, if you typed my name into Google, the most popular Autofill was, “What happened to Kim France?”
Then one day, I was on a popular website, and saw a prompt to create my own blog. For laughs, I followed it. I wrote about a jacket I was obsessed with, about the perils of shopping at Zara after 5pm on a weekday, about whatever occurred to me. In a week or two, I’d written enough posts to feel confident sharing them privately with a few friends. The response was positive enough, so I hired a web designer to customize a Wordpress template for me, and thought of a name that had been kicking around inside my head: Girls of a Certain Age. It’d be about life for women over 40, and more specifically life after 40 for Gen X women such as myself who simultaneously identify as girls and as women, in a way I don’t think prior generations did.
Between Everything is Fine and the blog, I feel a real community, of myself and so many other women, all of us feeling our way through this alternately exciting and bewildering time of life.
When GOACA launched in 2012, I was fortunate enough to luck into a bit of press coverage, and before I knew it, the blog had a small but growing and loyal following. After a while, I started making money by posting affiliate links, which allowed me to earn commissions on items readers purchased via the blog. I was beginning to make what looked like a living.
Then, in 2020, I heard from a Montreal documentary filmmaker who wanted to start a podcast for women over 40 and thought I might like to partner with her, which I did. We called the podcast Everything is Fine, and it, too, quickly attracted a small but loyal following (though my original co host departed after about a year for a Times job, which I really couldn’t fault her for , but it made room for me to bring in a fantastic new podcast partner, former Lucky staffer Jennifer Romolini). Between Everything is Fine and the blog, I feel a real community, of myself and so many other women, all of us feeling our way through this alternately exciting and bewildering time of life.
It’s probably important to acknowledge that the reason I was able to kick around for over a year not working, and then launch a blog and podcast and call that my job, was because I had managed some financial security. I’d known from the moment I was hired that Lucky wouldn’t last forever, so I was disciplined about saving. Between that and my severance, I had the means to play smaller than I'd played before. I could choose to make less, so I could live my life in a way that would keep me happy and in touch with who I really am and want to be in the future. I realize this is not an option that’s available to everyone—or even most people—and it’s something I never take for granted.
At 58, it's a huge relief to not put myself in a position to be rejected for not being a “digital native” by some 28-year-old who doesn’t know the difference between their and there. Though I don’t have the security of a job job, I do have the security of knowing that I’m at the reins, and not some unfeeling corporate overlord.
I especially don’t take it for granted when I talk to old magazine world friends, now in their 50s and 60s and attempting to prove their relevance to the (often) decades-younger managers with whom they interview for jobs. At 58, it's a huge relief to not put myself in a position to be rejected for not being a “digital native” by some 28-year-old who doesn’t know the difference between their and there. Though I don’t have the security of a job job, I do have the security of knowing that I’m at the reins, and not some unfeeling corporate overlord.
Do I miss the prestige of that old job? Or the beauty closet, the car and driver, the clothing allowance? Occasionally. But like I said, I knew those things weren’t forever from the start. Do I wish I’d tried harder to play the game, to manage up to the bosses, to stick in there somehow, at all cost? Not hardly ever. There was a time when I needed professional success to feel like a personal one, and if I’m honest, there is a part of me that would have been dissatisfied if I hadn’t ever achieved something on the scale of Lucky. But having done so, I don’t feel the need to ever do anything like that again.