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IT’LL BE FINE, HONEST: At this point, anyone with an Internet connection, a Twitter account and a mild interest in media news has probably read about Cat Marnell and her untimely departure from xojane.com. Marnell, who served as founding beauty and health director, was a popular voice on Jane Pratt’s site for her unique style of beauty reporting. She recently wrote about Test’in Shampoo and Mix Your Own Chem-Out Hair Cleansing Mudd, products that could be used to clean the hair of any trace of drugs before a work mandated test. Last month, she informed readers of the late Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s favorite beauty products, which were discovered on a Web site that was posted for one day. “Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy was a party girl and I am a party girl and I know what beauty products she used and here is my dumb outfit and I think my brain is broken bllllarggggg,” Marnell wrote, to open the piece.
As part of her farewell tour, Marnell has spoken to the press at length about her drug use and disinterest in holding down a traditional 9-to-5 job. She told the New York Post: “Look, I couldn’t spend another summer meeting deadlines behind a computer at night when I could be on the rooftop of Le Bain looking for shooting stars and smoking angel dust with my friends and writing a book, which is what I’m doing next.” New York magazine posted a rambling Q&A with Marnell that moved from a potential book deal to her work for the site. “Well, I want to make it clear that I’m not like, dying. All the commenters on the site are like, ‘Oh, when’s she going to hit rock bottom?’ And I definitely cannot, like, hold down a job, but I’m fine, you know?” As of Tuesday afternoon, it was the second-most-read story on nymag.com.
Marnell was clearly a big draw to xojane.com (whenever she bothered to write) and now some have wondered what her departure means for the business going forward. It was only two months ago that xojane.com owner Say Media told New York magazine that Marnell was the site’s most-read and most-commented-on writer. The company provided a different message on Tuesday. “We’re going to miss her, she was a fantastic writer,” said Kourosh Karimkhany, senior director of integration and editorial operations. “But we have several excellent writers and in every given month she was among the top writers but almost every other month, it was someone else.”
May was xojane.com’s highest-performing month and he said Marnell was unavailable for much of it. “We had the most uniques since we launched last year and, this month, we’re on track to beat that,” said Karimkhany. “We’re approaching one million uniques a month.” The business is also about to grow, with the launch of xojane.co.uk, a new site for British women from Say Media.
There’s no doubt Marnell will be missed by her fans, but she’s been missed by her bosses and colleagues for a while now. She’ll continue on as a contributor for xojane.com but, moving ahead, executives at Say Media seem united in their message that the business will be just fine. The site’s traffic numbers in the months ahead will prove whether they’re right.