Early this week I saw a post about magazines always making you feel one step behind. (Here’s the link if any of you are interested.) The OP basically touched based on the manipulative form of propaganda magazines use when advertising idealistic portrayals of women. She takes a picture of two magazines: one that reads “Get thin fast”, and another that reads “Get thin too fast?” It isn’t news how these companies operate, feeding poisonous beauty ideals to women across the world. Covers like that are all a part of their game: build your self-esteem up, and then tear it down so that you continued to feed into their bullshit. It wasn’t until I figured this out that I realized this vicious cycle doesn’t stop at magazine covers.
I thought for a while about why people buy magazines. Some make the purchase for beauty tips, relationship advice, and gossip columns. But, who is this advice coming from? Who are these beauty tips based off of? And, who are they gossiping about? The answer: celebrities. Not just any celebrities though, you’re favorite celebrity, and that is where the cycle starts.
How many of you tore posters out of magazines to hang up in your looker, or bedroom. I won’t lie, I had my fair share of J14, tear away Zac Efron pictures. We all remember what it’s like to see your favorite celebrity on a magazine and beg your parent to buy it. Some of you may still purchase magazines for that reason. Did you every stop to think about why that celebrity was placed on the cover? They were chosen because they appeal to the target audience of each magazine. For example, One Direction being chose for the cover of Teen Vouge and Seventeen, while artist like Katy Perry and Rihanna are placed on Cosmopolitan.
This all comes across as an innocent marketing strategy, but it is much more than that. Why do teenage girls fancy one direction? It is not just because they’re seen as attractive, but also because of the message they deliver. Their songs attempt to lift the spirits of young girls and encourage them to accept themselves as beautiful. Of course, this leads to parents accepting them as role models, and when they see them on the cover of a magazine what do they do? They buy it.
So now we have a magazine with teenage sensation Harry Styles on the cover. Underneath his picture is a text that reads, “Hear why Harry thinks all girls are beautiful.” That’s a great, positive message to share with your child, right? But wait, the Styles interview doesn’t appear until page 116. So, in order to hear why all girls are beautiful, you must first go through 115 pages on why you’re not. This is what’s hidden underneath it all; the vicious cycle that I mentioned before.
The same goes for women’s magazines. Artist like Katy Perry and Rihanna make you feel good when you listen to them, sexy even. Therefore, when you see them on the cover Cosmo, claiming to be “just like you”, it makes sense to purchase it. However that interview is only about two pages long. The rest of those pages are filled with images to remind you that you are not just like Rihanna.
Keep this in mind the next time you’re browsing through magazines in the bookstore.