Have you ever felt better about your body image after reading a women’s magazine, one of those glossy weeklies and monthlies that focus on diet, exercise, weight loss, cosmetics, gossip, celebrities and custom 3d eyelashes box?
It’s likely that you felt worse about your body, your self, your career, your relationship after reading it than you did when you started; that you’d decided to try the new diet; and that you were at least keeping an eye out for a new cream or potion to help you fix your ‘problems’. It’s not your fault that your body image has felt worse while reading a magazine.
Women’s bodies, and parts of bodies, are used to sell everything from computers to cars to builders. The bodies displayed have been younger and thinner over the last 30 years. It’s rare that a women’s magazine doesn’t have a regular makeover feature, encouraging women to actively pursue the “ideal” of the young, airbrushed, models in the glossy ads that actually pay for the magazine.
Zehair models of course are airbrushed, and despite several governments around the world moving to force magazines to disclose when images are digitally enhanced, there’s clearly no such compliance.
For many women commuting to work, reading a magazine is an easy thing to do to ease the boredom. We simply don’t think of the planned side effects of the whole package: negative body image.
Every read reinforces the cult of youth and the cult of thinness. Both are entirely economic, driven by the advertising of products that are unlikely to deliver the look they advertise anyway.
Recently that a popular cosmetic company were sued by an advertising regulator because they did not disclose that their photographed model, promoting a mascara, was wearing false eyelashes. The advertisement therefore was misleading because it suggested the product could produce eyelashes like those shown in the photograph. The company’s defence was that “women know the models wear false custom 3d eyelashes box”.
I was highly amused when I read that, because, actually, I didn’t know. I assumed the company chose models for their luscious lashes, the same way they choose stocking models for their lovely legs and hand models for their lovely long fingers and perfect nails. The perfect woman’s body, it seems, is made up of parts of many different woman. Who can compare to that?
Women who feel insecure about their bodies are more likely to buy beauty products, new clothes, and diet pills, potions, lotions, and programs. The diet industry is worth around $60 billion a year in the US alone. The whole body image industry is worth several hundred billion!
Meanwhile research tells us that exposure to images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls. Since the cult of thinness really kicked off in the 1960s, women around the planet have been starving themselves into ill health, both physical and mental, to achieve some of the perfection which will, the women’s magazines say, bring us ultimate happiness. Clearly, that’s not the case.
To start improving your body image, first of all stop buying the magazines. Just stop. They’re full of exaggerations and half-truths and plain nasty gossip about people we don’t even know, and which causes those people pain. If your child, sister, brother or parent was one of those people, how would you feel about strangers reading those lies and half truths, examining every aspect of his or her life, making themselves feel better at your loved ones’ expense?
When you read the women’s magazines, you’re funding the people who make up those lies, cause that pain. You can stop; your little contribution does count. The gossipy stories only exist anyway to fill out the space between the advertisements that contribute to our societal anorexic thinking.
If you really want magazines because you enjoy the light read (and we all need that relaxation once in a while), look around, make a different choice. Many women are sick of the distortions, and they are supporting new magazines appearing on the newsagents’ shelves, with content that appeals to the many facets of a woman’s life. If you enjoy reading magazines take a few minutes to look at some of the new titles, you might find something that really speaks to you.
Balance is badly, madly needed, and the ones to bring it, are we women.
Are you one of the millions of women who look in the mirror and hate what they see? You’re not alone and it’s not your fault! Get Ten Tips to help you Love Your Body, free! Sandy Kumskov is a body image coach who helps women custom 3d eyelashes box the diet, and find peace in their own body. To find out more