I started reading women’s magazines in high school while trying to figure out this makeup thing.
I couldn’t ask my mum – the only makeup she ever wore is nail polish. My friends weren’t into it – if anything, they came to me for advice. Youtube wasn’t around yet.
I had to rely on magazines to teach me how to create a smoky eye or figure out the best moisturiser for my skin type.
At first, it was fun. I was learning all these new things, playing around with makeup, and catching up on gossips about my fave celebs.
But after a while, I noticed that reading magazines was making me unhappy. Instead than a fun ritual, women’s magazines had become a source of irritation. Here’s why:
- Problem #1: Women’s Magazines promote an unattainable image of beauty
- Problem #2: Women’s Magazines promote dangerous weight loss
- Problem #3: Women’s Magazines promote plastic surgery, but not its risks
- Problem #4: Women’s Magazines promote competition between women
- Problem #5: Women’s Magazines give silly relationship advice
- Problem #6: Women’s Magazines Have too many ads
- Problem #7: Women’s Magazines promote mostly expensive items
- The Bottom Line
Problem #1: Women’s Magazines promote an unattainable image of beauty
Ever wondered why you always look like a slob compared to celebrities, no matter how much makeup you wear?
Like, how come they have no cellulite, pores, or dark circles?! Are they just genetically blessed?
Truth bomb: even the most beautiful women in the world don’t look anything like their magazine pictures. Just look at these photos of Faith Hill, for example.
On the right, she’s a normal, healthy size. Her eyes are a little puffy and her smile is enhanced by the lines around her mouth. Even so, she’s absolutely stunning.
Yet, Redbook felt the need to Photoshop her into a Barbie doll. They made her dangerously thin, smoothed out her face so it looks like plastic, and her dark circles are nowhere in site.
That’s right. Even with all the army of people – makeup artists, hair stylist, lightening director etc – who helped Faith look her best for the Photoshoot, the magazine still deemed her too ugly to grace its cover without the help of Photoshop…
The message is clear: you have to be skinny, have absolutely no flaw, and look like a plastic doll to be considered beautiful.
Women’s magazines promote an extremely unhealthy, fake and unattainable image of beauty. No wonder so many women feel ugly and worthless in comparison! Heck, I bet even Faith Hill thinks she’s ugly compared to her plastic doll fake self.
The worst part? Even if you consciously know these pictures are Photoshopped, seeing them day in and day out sends a message to your subconscious mind that it’s possible to look like that.
Before you know it, you’ll try every diet you come across, join the most expensive gym, and spend thousands of dollars on beauty products and procedures that promise to make you look like fake Faith.
Just what the magazines’ advertisers were hoping all along…
Related: Cellulite Is Normal, Get Over It
Problem #2: Women’s Magazines promote dangerous weight loss
It’s not enough women’s magazines tell you you need to look like a plastic doll – something no human can ever achieve. They also want you to ruin your health to do it.
Case in point: as soon as early spring rolls around, these magazines are full of articles on how to achieve the perfect bikini body.
Their advice? Spending money on expensive cellulite creams that don’t work, skipping meals, and swallowing down slimming drinks with dubious health benefits (and plenty of side effects).
Sometimes, they prescribe a diet that seems legit. They recommend you avoid carbs, sugars or fats – all things that are bad for you, right?
Wrong. YOUR BODY NEEDS THEM TO BE HEALTHY! In moderation of course. Did you know that carbs give you energy, for example?
Depriving your body of certain foods can make you feel weak, dizzy, tired all the time and also has dangerous long term effects for your health.
If you wanna lose weight, do it in the healthy way. Eat everything in moderation and exercise. It may take months before you get the results you want, but at least you won’t get ill.
Related: I Went On The Low Glycemic Diet And This Is What Happened
Problem #3: Women’s Magazines promote plastic surgery, but not its risks
Let’s be clear: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having plastic surgery, if that’s what you really want. Your body, your choice.
But I have two problems with the way women’s magazines promote plastic surgery.
First off, they promote this unattainable idea of beauty that’s impossible to achieve without going under the knife. (I’d argue it’s impossible to achieve it even with surgery – Lisa Rinna, anyone?).
They make you think that plastic surgery is a duty. Something you owe to society. God forbid you let anyone see you with wrinkles!
Is plastic surgery really a choice when you feel you’re worthless without the perfect nose or bigger boobs?
But let’s say you’re doing plastic surgery from a place of love, not hate. Even then, women’s magazines only sing the praises of plastic surgery. You never hear about its risks.
It’s called plastic surgery for a reason, ladies. Any type of surgery is by definition risky.
You could be allergic to the anesthesia (if that happens and you’re alive to tell, you’re very lucky). Or the doctor may make a mistake (I don’t care how good he is, he’s human and humans make mistakes). Or there could be any other kind of complication.
Same with fillers. If not done right, you can find your face paralyzed in some weird positions or look like a freak. Is the risk of complications really worth a smoother forehead or bigger boobs?
If anything goes wrong, you’ll be the one paying the consequences. Be sure you’re doing the surgery for the right reasons: out of love for your body, not hate.
But what if everything goes right? Even then, you may not be pleased with the results. It’s not uncommon to become addicted to plastic surgery and wanting to do more and more to achieve perfection. But perfection doesn’t exist. A bit of nip and tuck won’t give you that.
I’m not saying don’t do plastic surgery. Again, the choice is yours. But please be aware of the risks, don’t take it lightly. And don’t exaggerate. You don’t wanna look like Barbie!
Related: How To Find A Qualified Botox Practitioner You Can Trust
Problem #4: Women’s Magazines promote competition between women
Forget men. Women are women’s worst enemy.
From the second she’s born, a woman is encouraged to see every other woman as a rival who could steal her husband or her job.
Women’s magazines promote this competition between women, especially in the looks department.
Doesn’t matter what you look like, what size you are, or if you follow the style advice these magazines dish out. They’ll always find a way to bring you down and tell you don’t look good enough. And compare you to someone who looks better (with the help of Photoshop, of course!).
And what about those stupid columns about “who wore it best?”. It’s a dress, for goodness’s sake! Who cares if two women are wearing the same dress or who looks better in it! Who cares who’s prettier, who earns more or who has the most handsome boyfriend?
It’s not a competition!
Problem #5: Women’s Magazines give silly relationship advice
Women’s magazines don’t just talk rubbish about style and diet. They reserve their most silly advice for relationship problems.
Want to catch a guy’s eye? You need to wear the latest Balenciaga dress. Nothing else will do. Want to keep him? Make sure you please him in bed. Be nice with his friends. Dress to impress him.
Can you see the common theme? It’s all about how to please him. But what about what we want?
You don’t need to dress in a certain way to get a guy and you don’t need to find a way to get him to take you on holiday or propose or whatever. Relationships are hard work and take a lot of compromise.
If you have a problem or want something, talk and sort it out. Never trick the other person into doing something or pretending to be someone you’re not! If you do, don’t complain the relationship didn’t last. Jeez, I wonder why?
Problem #6: Women’s Magazines Have too many ads
I get it. Running a magazine is expensive. They need money to pay their bills and a huge chunk of that comes from ads. But when you have more ads than articles, well… what’s the point of buying that magazine at all?
You want to be up-to-date with the latest news and trends, find out tips and tricks to solve problems you have, or read interviews about a celebrity you adore – not to reach page 50 for the index and page 80 for the first article!
Problem #7: Women’s Magazines promote mostly expensive items
Again, I get it. Women’s magazines are all about luxury and exclusivity. Their job is to sell you a dream that’ll never come true.
I don’t have a problem with advertising a £500 pair of Gianvito Rossi shoes, but why do you have to call them a must?
Luxury items aren’t must-haves yet they’re promoted in such a way that they make you feel a loser if you can’t afford them.
They make you think you need to have them to be cool. To be successful in life. To be accepted by your friends. They become status symbols and if you don’t have them, you’re out.
The worst part? Good luck finding an honest review in women’s magazines. They just print the press releases…
Related: What Outrageously Expensive Skincare Products Are Really Worth Their Price Tag?
The Bottom Line
Ok, that may be a bit too extreme. Not all women’s magazines are bad. And they aren’t the only media to blame.
But you can’t change the way the media thinks. You can only change the way you think. You can educate yourself and your children so you won’t fall for these traps anymore.
As a rule, if something makes you feel bad about yourself, ditch it.
What do you think about women’s magazines? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
This is an amazing article & one of the most honest ones. I totally agree with all the points you make and that is the reason I recently cancelled my subscription to the one and only women’s magazine that used to get delivered to my place.
Kuddos to you for pointing all of this out. I am gonna bookmark this and send the link of this to all my female friends 🙂
Tanveer, I’m glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for sharing it with your friends. Good for you for cancelling your subscription. Magazines are so full of crap these days, aren’t they? I’m so tired of them trying to tell women how to look, act, think and make us look the same ie like stupid plastic dolls. The unattainable image of beauty and disorted ideals they potray can have such a bad and negative effect on people and their self-esteem, especially on teenagers who are still developing their personalities and don’t always have the means to distinguish the reality from the bad and fake crap they write. I for one started to feel a lot better with myself after I’ve stopped reading them.
My teen age daughter is obsessed with these garbage fashion magazines, Latina, Cosmo, Glamour. Latina used to be a decent magazine that. Seems to have gone the way of Cosmo (trash). I gathered up all her magazines and burned them up( I paid for them) if she wants to read about fashion she can read my WomansWorld. The none of these trashy fashion magazines.
Ana, I think we all went through a phase when we were obsessed with these mags as a teen. They seem so innocent, don’t they? Your daughter is lucky to have a mother who understands their dangers and is trying to protect her.
I also did these becase I wastired of my daughter thinking that school is for Fashion and Beauty, she would bring them and read them during school when she is supposed to be paying attention to the teacher. She got them confiscated. I told her teacher Ms. Martinez to throw them away every time.
My Amiga uses fashion magazines to carry her wet kitchen waste to the garbage . She plops a magazine down where she is working and dumps the waste on top of the magazine and grabs the corners of it a, rolls it up and tossess away
Ms. Martinez told me that she would throw the mag away in front of My daghter, Veronica and after school would take the magazines home and shred them up and use them for mulch in her garden.
Ana, these magazines can be quite addictive, can’t they? But it’s good that you and her teacher aren’t allowing her to waste important school hours this way. What she will learn in school is way more valuable than anything these magazines can teach her.
Glad to hear you’ve found a good use for those mags, too.
I agree completely! Many of these magazines don’t have a lot of healthy contents and the articles are often very similar if not repeats (in terms of story line, concepts…etc). Nowadays it’s totally up to the readers to distinquish what’s good and what’s bad.
MoonRabbits, I too noticed that magazines seem to publish the same articles every year, they just change a few words here and there and the photos, but the concepts are the same. I also agree that it’s up to us to tell what’s good and real from what’s bad and fake but the problem is that not everyone knows how to do that. This is especially true for young girls that have grown up bombarded by this kind of message by the media and very often they don’t have anyone to educate them and teach them how to distinguish the reality from the illusions and false promises these mags sell us.
I agree with a lot of what you said. There are plenty of really crappy magazines out there. The only magazine I read regularly is Fitness. I think it’s a lot more realistic about health than most beauty magazines. The biggest problem of all the problems you listed, to me, is the over-photoshopping. The Faith Hill comparison is a good example. Her “before” was beautiful. And then they made her look like an alien.
Trisha, I think there are some good mags out there (I read Vanity Fair only) but there very few and hard to find among the many crappy ones. I do think that photoshop is one of the biggest problems as well. These days, everyone is photoshopped even if they don’t need it, just like Faith Hill. And most of the time, the airbrushed photos look so much worse as they changed so much the person hardly looks human anymore. I honestly don’t understand why they’re doing it. I guess removing a pimple with photoshop is fine but why slim a person who is already slim like Faith?
I LOLed at “magazines give stupid relationship advice” 😀 That’s really true. A guy friend once told me that the reason most women failed in their relationships is because they listen/read magazines written by women.
And yes, a 1000 dollar pair of shoes is sooooo attainable *roll eyes* I guess blogging makes me wiser because I know magazines get their products for free, hence everything and anything is so cheap and fabulous and attainable.
Dao, I think your guy friend is so right. It really puzzles me how women can take mag’s advice on relationships, they are always so silly. If they spent less time reading mags and more talking to their partners it would be a lot of better for the relationship.
I also think blogging has helped opening up the eyes on many people. I’ve always known that magazines content was heavy influenced by advertisers but I didn’t realize before blogging just how much stuff they get for free. It makes you think, doesn’t it?
I buy magazine once a while, i read them again and again… not because of their contents, but only because of the pictures…. i never really read what they write because they are completely unuseful. BeautyBlogs are the THING now…. however I do enjoy turning pages of magazines on the beach or on the bus… maybe i should start printing a few great articles on beauty blogs to read on the beach instead…..although it wouldn’t be in glossy paper…..
Heidi, I enjoy looking at some of the pictures in magazines too. The fashion editorials often feature creative makeup and I find them ispirational (I wish the models weren’t so slim and young though!). I guess it’s not too bad to read mags if you can distinguish the good from the bad and only read the first and ignore the latter. And I agree that beauty blogs are the THING now hehe.. At least online you get to read a real person’s experience with the products and its pros and cons.
Wow, that’s a LONG one…
For some reasons, I always thought there is something irreplacable when it comes to paper books/magazine…probably just feel when I flip the page in an air-conditioned room with a little bit of sunlight poking in.
Anyway, I am not that bother compared to you. For the retouching part, I have learned that everybody is doing it (normal books/ ad campaign etc) so not following the “rule” might make them lose certain advantage. For those “stupid relationship and in-bed advises…” I actually like them…as I read them as jokes. As for those who-wears-it-better, expensive items I like them as they give me some chances to window-shopping something I wouldn’t chip in money myself.
Last but not least, some ad are a pleasure to look at when they are nicely done (I especially like the ones from Japan though). Anyway, it’s not like I read most of those US magazine anyway because , as you said, they kind of suck…
Citrine, I know! I tried to edit it but I had so much to say I couldn’t make it any shorter than this..
I love books too, turning the pages, smelling their scent, there’s something special about books. And I do like reading a good mag, but there aren’t many around these days and it kinda annoys me as all that paper they used to print crap could have been put to better use to print something useful people could learn from..
I guess if you read these mags with an ironic approach, they are so silly that it’s funny. I agree that everyone, not just mags, are using photoshop and I’m sure they think if they don’t they’ll use readers but I actually think people are tired of being told they have to look like a plastic doll and to achieve an image of beauty that’s just unattainable and would love to see real, unairbrushed women on the pages of mags (and everywhere else) instead.
As for the ads, I’m only bothered when there are too many of them or when 90% of them are for high-end stuff. I think ads should be targeted to the mags’ audience and I doubt most of their readers have the money to buy those stuff. But yeah, some ads are beautiful and I don’t have a problem with those.
I guess I’m just annoyed as this mags seem to prey on the desires and insecurities of women to make money and not everyone is capable of read them with a critical mind. Some take it very seriously and are very influenced by it and I just think the media, not just mags, should use their “authority” to help women and give a good example, not by putting them down for the way they look or because they can’t afford expensive stuff.
Your post hit the nail on the head! The only thing I still look at magazines for are fashion ideas (like Lucky mag). I only browse through them at the book store though as it isn’t sufficient reason for me to buy or subscribe and put up with the rest of their BS. Everything else is useless…or a rehash of info you can find easily on the internet.
Blue, I agree with you. Mags are still a good source of inspiration for fashion and makeup looks, but everything else seems to suck these days and so most of those mags aren’t worth being bought. Good for you that you just browse them at the shop.
I also used to read them for news but these days they only print stuff that was already online three months ago. They could at least write it in their own way to make it interesting but it’s just press releases instead..
What a great article. So well written! Thank you! I do look at these mags and think, oh I look like crap. Thank you for the dose of reality! You Rock! :o)
Monique, you’re welcome. And you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself. Those pictures in mags are so fake. There is no way anyone could look like that without photoshop. Real women are so much more beautiful! 🙂
I agree, and most of them give crazy sex advises that aren’t even true!
Nikki, I agree. Most of their advices is just so silly (for lack of a better word)!
I agree! I haven’t read a women’s mag in years until March this year when I thought, “eh, why not?” Bad idea! I was so annoyed before I even go half way through the magazine. I could totally tell that they have “deals” with companies to promote their products, even if they’re too pricey or just plain suck! And the advertisements! I swear there were more ads than there were actual contents. I felt so ripped off for paying 5 bucks for a little book of ads! Women’s magazines just need to stop it already.
Tammy, I agree. These days I only buy mags if they have some good freebies like mini sizes of Lancome lipstick or of some high-end creams I couldn’t afford otherwise but when I try to read the mags, well I can’t. The articles are few and far between and not even all that good. Just press releases and crappy advice on relationships and what a crime it is to be a healthy size and have a wrinkle or two. *sighs* And definitely way too many ads, I don’t blame for feeling ripped off, I do too. You’re practically paying a mag not to read it! I wish they stopped this nonsense and starting writing and advertizing what women really want.
AMEN SISTER! I only ever read Cosmo, but I’m starting to get a little weary of them. I never learn anything new, they promote promiscuity (because that makes you a “strong woman”) and offer horrid advice like “how to get rid of the ‘other woman’.” WHY NOT GET RID OF THE MAN???
Another thing, they rarely support the MARRIED woman. I’ve been happily married for 5 years, and I have read Cosmo the whole time. Never once have I seen an article that was truly geared towards a woman like me.
And I hate to say it, but all the beauty advice is either geared towards a white woman (or fair skinned), or a woman as dark as Naomi Campbell (whom is still beautiful). I’m neither. Where’s the advice for the woman like me? I’m Caramel colored, and the world’s population is becoming more and more so my color! From mixed races, to Spanish women to Asian women, I blend in with ALL of them, and yet there is no advice for me.
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop.
Mika Chan, I completely agree with you on everything you said. I noticed these magazines all seem to talk to one type of woman, usually young and wrinkle-free, sticky-thin and with a lot of money to buy expensive things no one really needs and lately it seems that to be independent you also have to sleep around. What that has got to do with being a strong woman I’ll never understand. Of course, most women aren’t like that but these mags are just using the fact that you should aspire to be like that to get people to buy their magazine and read their “precious advice” on how to become like that. It’s disgusting really.
We are all different. We have different shapes and sizes, different skin tones, different jobs and backgrounds and magazine should cater to all women. Instead, most people aren’t represented in these mags, and what’s worse, they are left feeling like there’s something wrong with them because they look/dress/act like these mags think we should.
I love magazines, but I agree they probably aren’t really good for my self esteem! I used to want to be a fashion photographer, so that’s what got me obsessed with fashion magazines, and now that I’m into skin care, I like magazines because some of them (Vogue, New Beauty, Allure) have articles about cutting edge skin care stuff (but then it makes me want Botox and laser treatments). Knowing about all of these treatments I can’t afford makes me depressed, and knowing that I want them when I should be happy with how I look makes me depressed.
Also, I get Fitness and Health magazine, and they don’t promote unhealthy diets in the articles, but some of the ads are questionable. I know all magazines are obsessed with being thin, and I am too, and again I hate this obsession that I have, but I can’t get over it.
And as far as promoting expensive items – this has really done me in! I have developed an obsession with expensive sunglasses, and when I see a new pair in a magazine ad I start obsessing about them. Same thing with jewelry ads. So magazines are a huge shopping trigger for me.
But if I didn’t read magazines, I’d still be watching TV and and reading about celebrities on the internet, so no matter what I do, the media makes me feel bad about myself, but I can’t look away!
Jeni, I can so relate to how you feel as I used to feel like that for years. You’re right that magazines aren’t the only ones to blame. Tv, cinema, those ads you see in the street, it seems that everywhere we turn we see someone or something that tells us to be a certain way, to buy expensive items etc. That’s why not only I stopped reading magazines but I also don’t watch tv anymore and I stay away from websites that I know will make me feel bad. It’s not an easy task and it’s impossible to completely avoid everything, but what I can’t avoid I try to ignore and since then I’ve started to feel a lot better about myself and the way I look.
It’s a shame really because you shouldn’t have to stop reading a mag you love to feel good about yourself. The media should be the one to change and promote a healthy image of women and teach us to accept ourselves instead of bringing us down for the stupidiest of reasons. But what we can do is just learn to ignore the bad and accept ourselves as we are, flaws and all. And I know that’s not easy. It took me several long years to finally accept I’ll never be tall or have a smaller nose but in the end, these are the things that make us special. Celebrities may look beautiful on the cover of mags but if you look they all look the same, have the same noses, the same lips, it’s kinda scary and I don’t wanna end up looking like that. So don’t feel bad about yourself.
You’re a beautiful, lovely and smart girl and you shouldn’t let anyone feel that you’re not pretty and whatever enough. It’s a tough journey that of self-acceptance but you can get there. 🙂
gio very very good article you have written here. few weeks ago, i was flipping a magazine, then i saw an ad about a bust-firming center. and there is a ” REAL LIFE ” story printed on the page, which said something like the boyfriend dumped her because of her flat chest. then ever since she went for bust enlargement and her relationships lasted for so long with her new bf.
i think it is total bullshit!!! what kind of message are they portraying to people?!
Xin, OMG that’s awful! I can’t believe they are making money advertising a story like that. It sends out such a bad message to women, they should be ashamed. I hope the story’s not true but even if it was, you should be glad you got rid of such a jerk that obviously didn’t care about you at all, not get a bust enlargment. That is so sick and disgusting!
I don’t buy fashion magazines anymore because most of them only feature expensive stuffs. Expensive make, expensive skincare and only branded clothes……
Joanie, I agree. It’s so frustrating to see only stuff you can’t afford in magazines. And it’s even worse the way they are promoting them like they’re must have? What’s wrong with unbranded clothes or drugstore makeup? They can be of very good quality too.
I could not agree with you more on this post. I cancelled my subscription for all of these reasons and to think you have to pay for mags when they are already full of ads really gets my goat.
Emma, good for you! And I agree. Those magazines aren’t usually cheap and with all the money they get from advertisers, it’s hard to justify their price, especially when their posts are silly and full of crap.
Hi! Just found your blog and this article and I have to say I agree. I used to subscribe to 2 magazines, I cancelled one and I now have one left, O. Even though Oprah is always on the cover, I like that in the pages, she seems to fade to the background. Besides fashion, there are well written articles on other aspects of life and I always find I learn something. That’s the main reason I keep reading. I’ve been trying to find another glossy one to match it but no luck. I suppose if you want some intelligent reading, you have to go for the likes of the Economist, National Geographic etc…
Sue, that’s what mags are supposed to do, make you learn something, not fill your head with silly ideas and advice. I’m glad that O is like that, I wish we had it here as well. But I agree with you. These days we can either choose to buy serious magazines like the Economist if we wanna learn something or buy glossy mags which make us feel insecure, inadequate and with nothing interesting to read. It’s a shame there doesn’t seem to be any mags that offers intelligent articles but in a lighter way than the Economist.
What about those that aren’t aware of the fact that these mags use photoshop (I’m sure…some exist, right?)? Do you feel that there are girls who just may blindly believe? How are those girls to be helps? What about Bust mag? And, for a heavier read, Bitch mag? Mags celebrating neo-feminism ideals–of course, in addition to the Economist! 🙂
Laura, I’m sure that there are people that don’t releaze how photoshopped these photos are. They probably know that they are enhanced in some way, but not the extent of it. For instance, they may think that pimples have been erased but not that a perfectly slim woman has been made to look even slimmer to the point that it’s unhealthy. I think both their families and school should take some time to educate these girls on how magazines really work, what mechanisms and techniques they use and that noone can possibly look like celebs do in these magazines.
I can’t talk for Bust mag or Bitch mag as I have never read, but I don’t hate all mags in general. Those that portray women in a good lie and offer good articles and food for thoughs I like and I think we should encourage girls to appreciate them more.
I feel like buying women’s magazines are a waste of my money. The magazines should be giving us their magazines for free, since all they contain are advertisements and articles written are mostly shallow and re-hash of standard topics. It’s rare they feature an article with original ideas or depth. 🙂
Jo, I completely agree with you. Some of these mags are quite pricey and when you see how full of adverts they are, you can’t help but feel ripped off. I think it’d be different if they offered some interesting articles but those are shallow and superficial too and all the silly advice and photoshopped pictures just make you feel and inadequate. 🙁
I love beauty and fashion but those magazines are gross!! LOL!
Prettykitty, I agree with you! lol. 🙂
did any one bother to notice that the picture at the top is Jessica Simpson and not Faith Hill?
Naz, thanks for letting me know. I know the picture on top is Jessica Simpson but I was referring to the picture of Faith Hill underneath that, which for some reason, wasn’t showing up. It’s weird cos it was there when I first published the article, so am not sure what happened but I fixed it now.
This is a fantastic post! Oddly enough, I’m studying to go into this very industry but as someone very well aware of these matters and quite disgusted by them, I don’t plan to take the mainstream route for life (perhaps just so I can have something to throw onto the resume). My ultimate dream is to have a magazine that DOES promote women to be better for themselves and not for their boyfriend or society. I do not plan on promoting hyper-consumerism with the hopes that they will achieve whatever goals these magazines are putting forth in regards to their beauty ideals, but to continuously explain alternative approaches irrelevant to cost. Perhaps I am just a young dreamer, but as I continue to read through magazines to take note of their approaches in regards to their audience, I feel my desire to accomplish this one day increase. I’m glad, though, that there is a post like this and it should be promoted to teen girls and grown women alike, as it is an issue faced by all of womanhood. (I really could go on and on about this…which is why I’m planning my own blog post regarding this issue! I’ll be referencing this post undoubtedly!)
Emi, good luck with your future career, I wish you all the best with it and I hope you can achieve your dream one day. 🙂 I think it is great that you are not just aware of this issue, but are also taking notes of what’s wrong with these mags and work on trying to change things. We need more people like you. Magazines have the power to reach and affect millions of women so they should act responsibly and aim at promoting the right idea of beauty and empower women, to make them feel beautiful and worthy whatever their size is or how much money they have instead than making feel bad and insecure. I can’t wait to read your post about the subject, we really need more people addressing this subject and I’m sure you’ll some wonderful insights to share. 🙂
I LOVED your article! Magazines have fueled my low self-esteem due to me not being white enough, slim enough, for not having a boyfriend or for simply everything that I have going on in my life.
I’ve noticed that magazines tend to subtly hint what’s missing in your life and it’s really sad.
Also, EVERYTHING in magazines are an advertisement. You’ve already got the hundreds of pages of advertisements then, you’ve got the fashion section where they talk about the newest statement bag, then it’s onto the beauty section where they dish out a whole new range. I actually would LOVE to see a magazine do something that isn’t related to bombarding me with the latest must have product for once.
Samira, thank you. I’m sorry magazines affected your self-esteem. I can relate. When I was younger I would read a lot of them but afterwards I always felt and inadequate. You’re right, they are always hinting what’s missing in your life and make you feel unworthy because of it. They should give advice that empower women instead they tear them down because they aren’t perfect. And no one can ever be perfect. So sad.
I also agree that everything is an advert. It would be great if they actually tried the products they talk about and maybe talk about products that aren’t provided by their advertisers but I can’t see that changing any time soon. *sighs*
Thankyou for writing this – I know I’m finding this late haha 🙂 I do enjoy reading magazines on long car journeys and on my lunch break, but I know everything needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Especially the relationship advice – relationships are so important to the way that we act and feel when we are in one – having someone who we basically become the other half of and it’s horrifying that teenage girls are getting advice like ‘How to make your man do anything for you’. I read some of these things with my boyfriend and he says that if women acted that way with him he’d be terrified! Every relationship is different and you can’t generalize especially with people’s problems or insecurities. I have young cousins and I don’t want them going into the world thinking men are machines we can make work a certain way or attract just by following these tips. There’s a lot of talk about degrading women in magazines – but that’s rather insulting to the fact that men are human beings who want genuine loving relationships too!
The media preys on people’s ‘weaknesses’ ie love, money and body image and makes a fortune. Ugh… just UGH.
Bun Bun, you’re welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. As you, I find it disgusting that magazine’s prey on people’s weaknesses to make money. It’s just so wrong. I wish they wrote inspiring articles to empower women instead we’re constantly reminded of our flaws. And their relationship advice is just horrifying, I agree. Can’t blame your boyfriend for being scared of women who’d follow them! I’d be too! Men aren’t slaves, they are human beings and they want what everyone wants: someone who loves them for who they are. You should always be honest with your partner if you want your relationship to succeed, instead these mags talk about how to manipulate him and getting him to do what the woman wants… what kind of a relationship is that?! And I doubt their tips will work for long if they work at all.. no one likes to be used after all..
And don’t get me started on the all “how to attract men” tips. Those tips may get a men’s attention but how do these women think their relationships will last when the men realize they have fallen for women who don’t exist and were only pretending to like something or look in a certain way?
I love this article!
The main reason I stopped reading magazines was because I was sick of them trying to regulate every aspect of my life to appeal to men! You know, telling me I better wear painful heels because I’m short and that’s just not good enough. And ruin my hair with peroxide because dark hair is “out” this season. Oh, and I better butcher my body because their survey said men perfer C cup breasts. The sex tips were the worst, apparently i’m not a “real woman” because i don’t have casual sex?? Even if I don’t want to do a certain sexual act I’d better just suck it up (no pun intended) and get on with it or no man will ever want me?? I even remember a magazine saying that women need to have a “signature sex move” to “stand out from the sexual crowd” WHAT??
Then they’d top it off with some first class hypocracy saying we need to love ourselves the way we are (terms and conditions apply – see other issues for details) Basically I don’t think anyone needs to be constantly told they’re inadequate in every way. What to do regarding my body, appearance, career and relationships etc is MY decision and the best thing I’ve ever done for myself was giving up reading this crap. Glad to see I’m not alone!
Saphy, I’m glad you do.
I stopped reading magazines for the same reason, because they tell women they are inadequate in every way. And the advice they suggest to “improve” is so ridiculous and at times even horrifying and degrading like the signature sex move one.. I had never heard that one before but WTH? Are they serious?! I’m tired of women being told their only purpose in life is to please men in everything and that to be independent they need to have casual sex (what sleeping around has to do with being independent is something I’ll never understand). That’s just so wrong. Having a healthy sexual life doesn’t mean you have to sleep with as many men as possible and women should focus on become the person they wanna be, not to change to please someone else.. If a man isn’t interested in you for who you are, what’s the point of being in a relationship with him?!
You’re absolutely right. No one should tell us how to look, what to like and what to be, we should just be ourselves. And I feel a lot better about being myself ever since I stopped reading these mags.
nice article and full of realities.
Cute, I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Great article! I’m so glad to see I’m not alone in this! Although I still read magazines, I read them from a critical and analytical point of view (journalism degree changed my way of reading things FOREVER), and pray and hope that women don’t buy in to most of the ‘articles’ written. My boyfriend and I love reading the relationship advice and sex advice in these magazines and laughing like crazy at Cosmo’s promotion of being a psycho, mind-game obsessed girlfriend. It actually brings us closer since we look at the advice as what NOT to do! Not to mention, they certainly do recycle articles, which is disgustingly lazy and an insult to their customers.
The worse part, is of course, the mixed messaging involved. I remember a particular article in Cosmo about breast size that upset me. I’m a 34D, and read an article geared toward A cup women which told them how wonderful and proud they should be of their small breasts … which is great, but then they went on for more than half the article about all the terrible things involved with having big breasts and how lucky they are to be small-chested. I wanted to rip the article out and burn it! It started out great and self-affirming for the small-chested, but turned into a bashing and insulting of the large-chested. I don’t understand why it is so difficult for women’s magazines to ACTUALLY promote healthy body image for everyone!! I mean, honestly, just cut out the part about big-breasted girls and have an article on the next page on why it’s nice to have big breasts, and another on why it’s nice to have middle-sized breasts!
But what do I know. I’m just a woman reading a women’s magazine.
So thank you. This article and the comments below it have let me know that many women resist the bad advice and photoshop of these magazines!
Andrea, thanks. It is very reassuring to know that there are lots of women who don’t buy into what these mags promote. Although unfortunately, there are some who do, especially the younger ones who haven’t developed a critical mind yet. I don’t think there’s nothing wrong in reading these mags from a critical point of view as that way you realise how absurd their articles are. When you think about it, they can actually be quite funny and I’m glad they help bring you and your boyfriend closer.
That bugs me too. It seems mags can never promote anything without bashing something or someone else. That sends out the completely wrong message.. Women, when reading these mags, should feel empowered and comfortable with their bodies, instead they leave them feeling miserable about the way them look.. They should start listening to what women really want and it certainly ain’t this. I think their sales would benefit greatly if they stopped this unhealthy behaviour.
I hightlighted your post on why you don’t read women’s magazines anymore in my blog – thank you so much for being the voice of so many women who feel the same as you do on this issue.
Rachael, thanks for doing that, I really appreciate it. And I’m glad you enjoyed this post and that there are lots of other women who feel the same as me re women’s magazines.
I will go and read your post now. 🙂
I have read your article, and agree. I am approaching sixty and cannot believe the lack of
mature and ethnic woman in popular magazines. We can protest, just stop buying the magazine.
And really….. you think woman who can buy couture are reading this trash, they are at their plastic surgeons or spas!!!!!!
Try reading “Ad Busters”.
Nikki, I agree with you. It would be wonderful to see more mature and ethnic women in magazines. Instead they keep portraying an unattainable image of beauty so it’s no wonder that their readers feel inadequate and resort to plastic surgeons and spas. It’s really sad..
Just came across this ariticle – thanks – thought it was just me thought this way. The exploitation of women has reached new depths. Its not only the mags its the ads on the tv that get me. I am fed up trying to watch a programme and getting eyefuls of womens bodies their diets, their bums, their breasts, their bras, their makeup, their face/body creams ad ad nauseum and even god forbid their monthlies protection. Older women look like idiots and are usually in insurance ads or ones for bladder leakage. All the families are young good looking and happy and having a wonderful time . Its so blatatantlly untrue its almost funny. Its as if massive lies are force fed us. The beautiful people are seldom happy – ie Princess Diana, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, the list goes on. The media have a lot to answer for but they never will there is too much money to be made from women’s insecurities.
Marg, thanks for your comment. I completely agree with you. We’re told that we need to be thin, young and beautiful to be happy but the celebs and rich people who seem to have it all are constantly in and out of rehab, have eating disorders and are just miserable. Considering these examples, you’d think women wouldn’t buy into this dangerous message, but sadly it is so widespread (like you said, it’s not just the magazines, but the tv, cinema, billboard on the street, the radio, the internet…) that it really starts to influence us when we’re young, vulnerable and haven’t learned to use our critical minds yet. And once you buy the message, it’s really hard to stop believing it. You’re right, the media won’t change and that’s why it’s important that we all start educating ourselves and discussing these important issues.
I like your web-site! It’s very interesting. Hello from Russia!
Alina, hello and thank you! I’m glad you like it.
I’m also sick and tired of all the shallowness those mags bring about. My male Spanish colleagues find some of these mags schockingly “machista” (macho).
This is all about how a woman shall look like to be acceptable in the Occidental society, rather than learning on how to self-develop into a valuable input to the society.
Male-centered diktats and competitive female pressure usually frame and define what a perfect woman should be:
1. Super model appearance: thin, thanks to the last hot diet that works. Looking young, perfect skin, due to thousands of bucks spent in cosmetics, trendy couture makeup, fashionable clothes, the ‘IT ´accessories… All of that, courtesy to the mags guidance in buying must-have products.
Due to the hegemonisation of beauty standards, she’s afraid of not fitting the mold.
2. A super mommy, who raises and educates her children single-handedly once she’s off with taking them from school, drops them to their hobby classes, arranges tea-time, checks their homework, gives the baby the bath, cooks the diner and prepares the childrens clothes and breakfast table for the following day (the father is above this mundane stuff, he’s back from work and is harassed. So is the mother. )
Of course, super mommy lost her baby weight and is a fantastic yummy mommy
3. A super executive woman career, an interesting job, highly paid (otherwise, how can she purchase all the super expensive goods the mags propose?), btw, everybody is jealous of her position
4. An extraordinary social life, evolving around the last fitness class craze, shopping sprees, going out to the best restaurants etc. etc.
Have you remarked in recent ads how praised are ultra multi-tasking women?
For ex.: “She’s a model, a DJ at night, part time painter, yoga fan and mother of 2”.
Another manifestation of a single mom (even though she’s happily married to a rock star but the rock star is above this mundane stuff)
Burn-out inducing life-style, checked. Dont forget to always look picture perfect!
5. Intimate life: as some mags say, just make sure to prepare something good to eat for your man once he wakes up after sex. As long as he grunts his contentment. Period.
6. Aggressive ads: mags are constantly bombarding their pages with items to buy (and that you dont need). Their motto: “What are you’re waiting for? Shop til you drop!”
The irony is, there would be a poignant article about obese people who arent accepted into society, how unfair is that; or about the unacceptable children slavery.
The next page will show a stick thin model selling slimming pills. Or ultra expensive toys, certainly made by the kids from that former interview.
How hypocrit is that, blowing your trumpets for a better world and then, selling without mercy high profile designer items that would break the bank?
In a nutshell: if you dont look like this model of living and dont consume, you’re just a looser.
At the end, I would not recommend reading womens mags if you’re after questionning some intellectual issues or moral values. The best compliment a woman may deserve in these mags is not how generous, talented, selfless, intelligent… she is. Nope, the highest rate you would get is: “You’re good at throwing hen parties.”
Pastela, I couldn’t have said it better. These mags promote superficiality, double standards, and ideas of what a woman should be that that are unattainable and wrong. It’s best to leave them on the shelves and buy a good book instead.