Published on February 19, 2014 | by Hannah Lockley

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Women’s magazines: A purveyor of oppression?

Hannah Lockley.

Hannah says she always taken the content of women’s magazines with a pinch of salt. [Aylin Elci]

I’ve always taken women’s magazines with a pinch of salt. Sometimes more than a pinch, and that’s being generous. I’d like to think anyone who’s ever read or skimmed through a glossy knows not to take a single advert seriously, but of course they do. I do, and it’s all nicely rounded up into one vicious cycle of self-hate disguised as feminine modesty.

Magazines have shaped us readers into their ‘perfect’ woman. Totally antithetical to what they shamelessly portray as the ideal in every issue.

However, women are the original captive market; the result of a deranged social construct which demands certain behaviours from a group of people deemed of little worth – to then prescribe a range of products to make us less so.

What then adds insult to injury is the way in which these supposedly life-altering-but-not-actually-for-the-better products are advertised. How exactly do those stereotypical images of women entice other women to spend so much money?

By sampling campaigns from designers such as Hedi Slimane and Steven Klein, we find composition after composition enforcing and reinforcing the classically unavoidable voyeuristic male gaze onto female figures, who are styled in traditional roles. Might as well take it all in girls, as we’re paying for the privilege of an industry, founded on the economic exploitation of women, every time we buy a copy. Seems fair, right?

Thought–provoking

Last year the Evening Standard treated us to some thought–provoking images of women bent over to form stands for accessories. Accessories are no longer used as a form of fashionable expression, according to the ES. These particular shoes and bags only look good on an unrecognizable part of a naked body, but whatever, don’t get touchy. It’s all about the bags, not the underlying issue of sexual objectification that’s slowly rotting away impressionable minds.

There may not be much point in me harping on about nudity in magazines. It’s everywhere; we get it, sex sells. But this spread in the paper’s supplement magazine was different. It wasn’t sexualised in a way that Tom Ford adverts are, with all it’s oiled up models straddling a bottle of perfume.

It showed a disturbing side of advertisements, a way in which the bodies are faceless – dehumanised. Bodies used as props, resembling pieces of fleshy furniture.

Objectification

Of course, this isn’t the first time that women’s bodies have been used this way in magazines; I haven’t been living under a rock.

I get that these types of adverts might seem ‘edgy’, but why the hell are magazines and brands constantly targeting women in this way? Perhaps because they know that women will buy into their own objectification.

When I see a Dolce & Gabbana advert of four men aggressively towering over a woman, I don’t see a sexy pair of heels. I see a nation accepting the subordination and exploitation of women, giving feminism the biggest middle finger and saying ‘yes please’ to violence.

If you want to see a compilation of everything that is wrong with advertising in women’s magazines, Buzzfeed have naturally encapsulated some of the finest cases of the fashion and beauty industries at their most oppressive.

 

 

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One Response to Women’s magazines: A purveyor of oppression?

  1. Sarah says:

    To be honest, I think people look into these matters far to seriously, yes they promote an unnatural look of ‘the perfect woman’ and make people feel insecure about their looks. But do you really expect a business to run a marketing campaign centered around someone that isn’t attractive or beautiful, its just not going to happen. You have to take it with a pinch of salt and accept that even the most beautiful girls in these magazine and websites are photo shopped. I agree with your Dolce and Gabbana example, although people also argue that prostitution and escort agencies are degrading to women and yet they make more money in a day than most people do in a week and they hold all of the power, who is really the dominant one here?

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