Comment of the Week: On Women’s Magazines and Body Image

“About perfect, model-looking women vs actual women: I believe you women are at fault about society’s direction in respect to looks. You women keep buying all the glamour/fashion/designs mags that show all this fabrication when it comes to female looks. If women would stop buying all those mags, money would talk, and mags would start dropping those models in favour of real actual women. You have the last word, but I am afraid one thing is what women say about this issue, another one what women collectively are willing to do about it. Something like gasoline prices, financial downturn and the American driving habits: The larger the SUV, the more gasoline it is burnt and spent, hence, the more expensive it becomes to drive and also the less money there is for other expenses, vital expenses like mortgage and food; but drivers will adamantly keep and purchase new SUV’s and incur more expenses, in the face of catastrophe, rather than change course. Actual women will keep buying those magazines with thin, slender and near perfect bodies exhibited by late teen and early 20’s women.  These models  are not representative of average women. While opening the mag’s pages and reading/viewing the images, these women complain about the society that supports said publications, only after having contributed financially to the wealth of these same mags they complain about through the purchase of the last copy. This is what women want, otherwise, women would not buy these publications.”

James, commenting on “Glamour Publishes Picture of Average-Sized Woman, Hell Freezes Over

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19 Comments on "Comment of the Week: On Women’s Magazines and Body Image"

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5 years 14 days ago

I would say I don’t buy magazines (I’m poor and they don’t appeal to me to begin with) but I think the bigger problem is in billboards not magazines. How do you boycott a billboard?

Women are too varied and too many for it to matter what a segment decides to not buy. Even if only 10% of women are buying a magazine, that’s a lot. And it’s enough for advertisers to want their ads in the mag.

Madamoiselle L
5 years 10 months ago

The thing is “boycotting” although maybe making one feel powerful, usually does NO damage to the industry you have an issue with.

Years ago, when industries made their money by the actual selling of the product they made, it did. (I remember boycotting lettuce, grapes and even meat as a child, and I haven’t bought Nestle in decades. The grape, lettuce and meat boycotts worked, the Nestle did for a while, but they recovered.)

NOW most big businesses make their money from their SHAREHOLDERS, and their wealth has little to do with making a good product or even selling much of that product to most people. Magazines make MORE money from the ads than the subscribers or the magazines being bought anywhere. Most big businesses are SO big that no boycott does a thing to them. It sounds good, but they no longer bring businesses to their knees.

Stocks in companies which make inferior products can still do well, and the company stays in business, magazines aren’t much different, although they rely on both stocks AND advertisers, giving boycotts a double problem to over come. Plus, one would have to boycott the EVERY MAGAZINE, fashion, news, sports, that every publisher a fashion magazine publisher puts out. If one reads magazines, nearly impossible. Also, one would have to avoid television, print ads, newspapers, movies, the internet, ads in malls, basically become a hermit to never come in contact with “waifs” who model clothes and have bizarrely thin and tall body types. It’s simply impossible to avoid.

I don’t buy fashion magazines, (I sometimes get a Cosmo from the library, but their model type is a little more Zaftig) but avoiding the TYPE of body shown in them is simply not possible in our current situation.

5 years 10 months ago

My first thought when I see arguments like this is ‘yes, it’s terrible the pressure women are put under to conform to the ‘ideal’ to be big busted, yet skinny, practically hairless beach body etc etc..’ and that’s true, but then I think about history.. the way’s we torture ourselves may be very 21st century, but the fact we do it definitely isn’t.. until the early 20th century it was expected that every grown woman would spend her waking hours in a restrictive corset that affected her movement, her breathing (contributing to the idea that women were fragile creatures, prone to faint at any kind of shock) and in
extreme cases when especially tiny waists were desired actually compressed and damaged her internal organs. A couple of centuries earlier, people who could barely afford food would pay a penny for a ‘lucky-dip’ wig that was likely to be infested with disease carrying fleas or lice and may have been made from the hair of a corpse because going about town with just your own hair was deeply unfashionable and marked you out as the poorest of the poor, before that, in elizabethan times, both sexes where wearing lead make-up that would cause skin lesions (covered up with more lead based make up) and lead to lead poisoning because it was fashionable to be pale like the queen.. history abounds with examples of pressure to conform to what has been regarded as perfect, well before the invention of the printing press let alone the fashion magazine, it may not be right that anyone feels this pressure, but unfortunately we’ve always done it to ourselves and probably always will.

5 years 10 months ago

I see that many people don’t agree with this comment of the week, but I would argue that it makes a very valid point:

1) Studies have shown that women are significantly harsher in judging the attractiveness of other women than men are when judging those same women. Overall, men tend to prefer “average” women.

2) In a way, female body image often isn’t even about sex, or about looking appealing to men– because women have throughout history been judged by their appearance more than men have, this tendency has, in its own twisted way, reincarnated itself under a “feminist” veneer. Media images of successful, intelligent, independent, and stable women are always slender and attractive. Overweight women are depicted as sloppy, low-income, stupid, or unstable. And so, in a way, female ideal body image is a form of competition independent of the male sexual gaze.

Now, I’m not denying that the female ideal isn’t distorted by an obsession to look attractive to men, but at the same time I don’t think this is a case of “blaming the victim” because that assumes that women are clueless about what’s going on when often they know exactly what’s going on even as they try to “cheat” the game by becoming the best player, rather than recognizing that the game itself is bogus.

6 years 2 months ago

You look longingly at the clothes, why not at the body, too? I think the industry has gone to an extreme with photoshop, making the skinniest of models skinnier, but I personally like seeing the clothes on skinny girls.