Beauty is pain. This is one of the clichés women often use as an excuse to justify their actions in achieving the kind of beauty they desire. The statement implies rather a negative perception that in order to be beautiful we have to suffer first. For example, women who believe they should have their legs shaved accidentally cut themselves in the process, or women who try to put on mascara suddenly poked themselves in the eye with the mascara wand. Who decided that it means beautiful having smooth skin and flawless makeup? Although the definition of beauty is very subjective, media gets to determine the ultimate meaning of beauty. According to Statista, a research on U.S. magazine industry shows that in 2010 Americans spent 24.7 minutes each day reading magazines and in 2017 they are predicted to spare 16.5 minutes every day doing the same activity. Despite the decreasing amount of the time spent with magazines, the number of magazine readers has slightly been increasing since 2012 (par. 1). Considering the many amount of magazines that has existed and the intense time spent in reading them, media exposure has led people to believe the distorted image of beauty being displayed primarily in female magazines. Women’s beauty and fashion magazines have promoted impossible body image and influenced women negatively. Thus, it is best that magazine companies redefine their concept of beauty.
The first important point to note is that supporting more realistic and achievable contents for the magazines can help women feel less pressured about their appearance. Based on Statista, Harper’s Bazaar is one of the fast growing magazine brands (par. 2). Along with the other most renowned magazines, such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Elle, they show similar qualities. These magazines constantly feature beautiful and well-known celebrities or models, for instance, Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid on their front covers. They also inform about current beauty and fashion trends, give sex advice, and mention the tips and tricks in accomplishing certain body goals. In an article written by Jeff Grabmeier, there is a study on the influence of female magazines towards women conducted by Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, Professor of Communication at the Ohio State University (par. 3). The research involved 51 female college students who were asked to evaluate articles and advertisements in the female magazines within the course of five days (par. 7). The result reveals that more than half of the participants showed lower body satisfaction by the end of the study and claimed that they dieted during the last five days (par. 16). That kind of effect happens because women feel intimidated whenever they open beauty and fashion magazines. Although women read those magazines for the purpose of entertainment and getting healthy lifestyle tips, sometimes they cannot afford to compare themselves to the models or celebrities presented by the magazines. They start to make a list in their minds of what it is to be beautiful which then affects the way they look at themselves. Therefore, it is strongly suggested that magazine companies change the contents in their magazines. They should have various perspectives on beauty and encourage readers to love themselves the way they are.
Furthermore, the risk of engaging in unhealthy behaviors, such as performing an extreme diet and doing a plastic surgery, are increasing as more women are stuck with the ideal body image constructed by magazines. Meg Kramer in her article at Livestrong.com explains that based on the 2004 study of “Eating Disorders” women who had issues with their body image were more susceptible to eating disorders (par. 4). Rachel Sam Barclay also supports in her article on Healthline that by 2007 the prevalence rates of anorexia and bulimia reached 0.6 percent which means that the amount of Americans who will experience one of these disorders in their lifetimes is nearly 2 million. The influence of female magazines is getting more serious. Especially, not only are women feel pressured mentally, but they also begin to try to live up to the societal expectations. The supposedly healthy lifestyle advice they receive from magazines encourages them to engage in a new routine that makes the body react negatively when the change in routine is too abrupt and they put too much pressure in doing it. The message to stay in shape does not fall only to the readers but the models are also demanded to maintain their weight. Nowadays, models are getting thinner and thinner. Media Smarts noted that the average models who weighed eight per-cent less than the average women twenty years back weigh 23 per-cent less today. In addition, there was a case reported by Tom Phillips on The Guardian that unveils the death of a female Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston who died on November 2006 because of anorexia.
Despite the protest and the controversy, many women are still consuming their daily dose of beauty and fashion feeds from women’s magazines. It cannot be denied that even though these types of magazines create many problems for women, the consumption of such magazines does not decrease throughout the years. It is also true that there are just as many who feel inspired as those who feel pressured by the magazines. Many women look up to the models they see on the covers of their favorite magazines. However, any effort by the magazine companies to make their beauty standard to be more diverse would be much more appreciated and impactful towards how women would value themselves.
In conclusion, it is apparent that as many women are targeted by female’s beauty and fashion magazines, the effects of such magazines have caused women harm both physically and mentally. Regardless of the number of female readers who are still loyal knowing the damages the magazines are likely to cause, companies still need to revise their idea on beauty. The rebranding of body image would potentially have great outcomes for women and shatter the common believe that beauty is about being in pain.
Grabmeier, Jeff. (2015, November 05). Why Women Buy Magazines That Promote Impossible Body Images. Retrieved on February 28th, 2017 from OSU.EDU https://news.osu.edu/news/2014/11/05/why-women-buy-magazines-that-promote-impossible-body-images/
Body Image – Advertising and Magazines. Retrieved on February 28th, 2017 from Media Smarts http://mediasmarts.ca/body-image/body-image-advertising-and-magazines
Statistics and Facts on the U.S. Magazine Industry. Retrieved on February 28th, 2017 from Statista https://www.statista.com/topics/1265/magazines/
Kramer, Meg. (2015, June 22). The Effects of Women’s Magazines on Body Image. Retrieved on February 28th, 2017 from LIVESTRONG.COM http://www.livestrong.com/article/548072-the-effects-of-womens-magazines-on-body-image/
Barclay, R. Sam. (2016, September 01). Do Photos of Thin Models Really Cause Eating Disorders?. Retrieved on February 28th, 2017 from Healthline News http://www.healthline.com/health-news/do-photos-of-thin-models-really-cause-eating-disorders-041415
Phillips, Tom. (2007, January 14). Everyone knew she was ill. The other girls, the model agencies … don’t believe it when they say they didn’t. Retrieved on February 28th, 2017 from The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2007/jan/14/fashion.features4