I have a love hate relationship with magazines. To me they represent a sort of modern day torture device for women – kind of like a glossier, shiny corset. They create unrealistic standards for women to live up to with the photoshopped images they shove on every page and contradict themselves on every level. Every magazine is full of ways to be a ‘better, fitter, sexier, hotter, thinner, glossier or more radiant’ you with the underlying message being ‘you’re not good enough as you are.’ We are told that Cosmo is the independent woman’s Bible and that Company is for young fearless females etc and yet if we were really independent the magazines would surely go bust because we wouldn’t need them any more. Wouldn’t need them to sell us a fake, idealistic standard of living or rely on them to justify our lifestyle choices when we throw a couple more outfits onto a credit card because maybe, just maybe this time, having the latest ‘must have’ will suddenly work, we will be confident and happy at last – be ‘fixed’. Their survival relies on our vulnerability, our weaknesses and far from empowering women they prey on them. The same issue could have an article about ‘loving your body’ just pages away from the latest quick fix diet. How to be a fierce singleton contrasted with how to be a sexual goddess to please and keep your man – because obviously, as women, we are there for sex and nothing more and by bending over a few times a week or getting on our knees we are guaranteed to ‘keep a man.’ What about what we want?
The thing that really worries me is that tiny girls see these magazines and think it’s all real, that it’s all possible. That the women in the pictures have attainable figures, achievable faces, affordable wardrobes. The children I teach have grown up with the media being a sort of all encompassing blanket – forgive me for sounding like someone’s grandparent but I swear it was different in my day. They have and will grow up being sold a lifestyle that doesn’t exist. They will spend so much time hating themselves because they cannot live up to an example that is not real.
When teaching about the media, I got my class to count how many adverts glossy magazines contain; on average over half of the pages in every magazine we analysed were advertisements. What the hell is that? It shocks me that I used to believe make up reviews, used to obsess over buying the latest make up wonder product and used to think that if only I had the newest mascara or foundation etc. that I would be happy, would be ‘beautiful’ and ‘right’ finally. It’s all about money and which make up house pays the most as to what make up house gets the biggest write up in the magazines. So again, it’s not real. Smoke and mirrors. We believe it because we have to – we are being sold an idea that as we are, we are not good enough – we need to be thinner and better dressed, wear more make but look like we are wearing less, have our hair shiny, straight but with body please and ‘movement’ whatever the fuck that is. We need to ‘land and keep’ a man and obviously our personalities can’t do that.
The reason I hate magazines is because we are torn apart by them, so subtly and so meticulously, so carefully and so calculatedly and yet in the end, it is the magazines we turn to to ‘fix us’