Apologies for this being a week late. Assessment, sick child, and life all kept me wrapped around their little fingers this last week. It won’t be my best, but here it is! There was a pretty strange pre-occupation with the body this week, with many magazines featuring weight loss stories of some description and the tabloids kept up a running commentary on plastic surgery disaster. The up-coming Hunger Games movie also received some print as the media begins to pit it against the Twilight Franchise.
For the uninitiated, The Hunger Games is based on Suzanne Collins’ Young Adult trilogy which is set in the post-apocalyptic world of Panem – previously the United States of America. Panem is made up of the Capitol, and its 12 surrounding districts… and a thirteenth which was decimated. Each year, two tributes (one male and one female) are offered up by the districts to partake in The Hunger Games – a fight to the death, which guarantees the victor money, and food rations for their district until the next games. It’s a pretty promising plotline which is undermined by typical YA fiction writing – an angsty teenage female protagonist who is unaware of her affect on the male gender, and has two suitors. I won’t lie – after seeing the casting (Stanley Tucci!!!!), and the costuming I am pretty excited to see the movie (and can’t wait to review). However, there are several aspects of the plot that I find quite troubling. I may re-read the series and write a post, even though I have several posts in various stages of completion at the moment! On to the covers however!
A – Magazine cover has no mention of Beauty, weight, or appearance.
Marie Claire, New Idea, and Vogue all had flawless covers this week, with New Idea focusing on royal and celebrity gossip, Marie Claire celebrating their 200th issue with Claudia Schiffer gracing the cover, and Vogues beautiful Free Spirit cover featuring model Julia Frauche. I am really coming to love Vogue Australia’s covers which are always minimalistic, and High Fashion.
B – Magazine cover makes mention of Beauty Routines, and Fashion articles for maximising ones appearance – No shaming or promises of results.
Teen magazine Dolly takes out the only B this week with its taglines 25 Ways to Amazing Hair and We’ve found the trend that EVERY body can rock. It is pretty standard stuff for a teen magazine, and the cover doesn’t stray into “improve your appearance for boys” territory, though does play on the notion that appearance is important. The magazine also advertises posters for upcoming teen flick The Hunger Games, which seem to be missing the female star- who is the protagonist, instead objectifying the two male stars. Hmmm. The cover also features Taylor Swift whose music tends towards puritanical, slut shaming, me vs. every other girl, and lets buy into the fairy tale. I can’t help but question her validity as a role model for young girls. On one cover Dolly have managed to promote Taylor Swift, and completely do away with the female character from the new Teen Movie Franchise. Congrats! Perhaps a better Cover would have featured the Female star of The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence, with the posters of the Boys.
C – Magazine cover prominently mentions Diet/ Health with no hard promises or time frames, Features weight loss stories, Features stories about Beauty Routines which promise results, Features stories on Slimming/ Sexy clothing, Focus on obtaining a particular type of desirable body. Magazine cover focuses on dressing for the male gaze.
Cosmopolitan continues on with its feminist agenda by offering us taglines advertising features such as Sex with benefits – Flat abs, Firm Thighs, and an Orgasm! Positions that tone and tingle. One would think that the orgasm would be enough, but no… now we need to worry about ensuring we engage our core and work on our flexibility whilst getting hot and sweaty with a sex partner. Sex is already one of the most efficient cardio workouts, and particular positions do tend to rely on the strength of certain muscles, but I don’t particularly think any female should be organising sex around making sure they get in 15 minutes of reverse cowgirl, especially as I am pretty sure thats the last thing on a guys mind. This perpetuates the idea that women have to have a reason for having sex, and that it cant be an enjoyable activity just on its own. Ridiculous Cosmo! The cover is Hetero Normative as usual, and also relies on Men to tell us how to handle a one night stand… because women are just too delicate to know what to do – assuming that the one night stand is hetero… (nb… I know, its probably a little mean to assume that because British Cosmo claims a feminist agenda, that the aussie one should follow suit…)
Grazia continues this trend of helping women find time to become a slimmer version of themselves with Cheats guide to a younger leaner body. I’m not sure really how you cheat a younger leaner body… sounds like crash diets to me, and if it sounds like it…
Not to be outdone, Woman’s Day features Channel 7 Sunrise host with a feature on Mels Body Blitz. Drop 5kg fast … And from the way it’s positioned on the cover, one could be forgiven that 5kgs will be dropped by eating easy to make Heavenly Chocolate Mousse. But no, we all know that Woman’s Day is falling into that trap again where they feature a weight loss story against a dessert ensuring we know that it is one or the other – or extreme guilt. There is also Bulimia of course, which as Jean Kilbourne states in Can‘t Buy My Love is the ultimate solution as one can have their cake and eat it too – that is, if you are willing to take the mental illness and physical side effects that come with it.
OK! rounds up the cavalcade of weight loss stories and solutions with Stars Tell – we lost 40kg. Of course, it must be made explicit that this is TOGETHER, and not each which is NOT made explicit on this cover. The stars featured are current Jenny Craig success story Mel B – whose ads explicitly link Thin with Sexy, and desirability to men; Radio and Television Personality Jackie O; and Adele, Katy Perry, and Rumor Willis. Considering Adele’s constant banging on about how she represents most women, and is happy with her size, it’s a little strange to see that she has not only lost weight, but is being held up as a weight loss success story. This cover doesn’t just glorify celebrity weight loss, it puts celebrities on a pedestal, making them definers of beauty. Though each of these women have different body shapes, they are still congratulated for losing weight, without it being clear of how healthy this weight loss actually was. Furthermore it perpetuates the myth that to be seen as successful and beautiful, one must also be slim.
D – Magazine cover actively promotes diets which promise fast results. Actively promotes Exercise for specific results. Actively assumes worth is determined by Male Gaze. Actively promotes youth for an audience over the age of 21. Actively promotes drastic beauty routines. Slight shaming tendencies.
E – Magazine cover actively shames celebrity/ media personalities’ appearance. Actively promotes unhealthy diets/ unhealthy weight loss/celebrity diet tips. Actively engages in fat/ thin/ age shaming. Shaming dominates the page.
NW – Pregnant Jess Collapses. Didn’t one of these magazines report recently that Jess had the bubs? This isn’t, however, the focus of this cover. I have named this issue of NW the shaming issue, and I think NW may actually have gotten worse with the new Editor. The main story is Kim’s surgery disaster – her secret treatments revealed. From the picture, I am not sure it is clear to anyone what surgical procedures Ms. Kardashian has had, but what we do know is that NW wants you to think it is all bad, despite the lovely pap photo. NW brings out the claws for Lindsay Lohan, with a shocking picture and the accompanying Tagline Lindsay’s shock booze bloat. This is a bit of a blow considering Lindsay’s current media rounds with her stating she is clean, sober, and in recovery, and after her stint on Saturday Night Live, which had moments of glory (including Lindsay poking fun at herself) , and moments which were more like a train wreck (including the shocking skit where Lindsay played herself in Jail). On a cover like this, it wouldn’t be complete without a dig at Rihanna, who NW claims is Starving for Chris and has dropped 7kg…. where on earth do they come up with this??
Famous keeps up the plastic surgery commentary with its stellar investigative piece on A-List Boob Jobs. The Good, the Bad, and The Wonky. Famous has Mariah Carey and Scarlett Johansson in its sights for this one, and boasts 15? Pics inside!. As Far as I am aware, Ms. Johansson’s breasts are the real deal – not that it is really any of our concern! There is also an Oscar’s special, and apparently Lady Gaga is pregnant. My favourite on this cover though is the Twilight Vs Hunger Games. Apparently there is some Public Insults and Private Jealousy. I’m not sure why really. It’s essentially the same story with the feuding boys, and an angsty teen girl unaware of her beauty. It’s just one has vampires and werewolves, and the other has a plot.
Who rounds out the Surgery covers with New Surgery Nightmares – What Have I done, inside the nip-tuck obsession ruining young Hollywood. From the website:
Lindsay Lohan’s Plastic Surgery Shock
It was meant to let her talent shine, but Lindsay Lohan’s Saturday Night Live gig was overshadowed by her new puffy, round face—leaving Hollywood abuzz about why the 25-year-old is taking extreme measures with her looks. “She is painfully insecure,” an insider explains, adding Lohan had fillers in the past “in her lips and liked the results.” Yet after undergoing wrinkle-busting procedures in an effort “to look younger,” Lohan is distraught over the results: “She is very insecure about her face and mad at the doctor.”
WHO examines the growing trend of young stars seeking extreme cosmetic enhancement in the quest for perfection.
I am sure they do.
The cover features Before and Afters of all stars, including Heidi Montag, Lindsay Lohan, Megan fox, Nikki Cox and Kim Kardashian, and promises 40+ Shock Photos! This surgery bashing has to stop. Though Entertainment Tonight did report that Ms. Montag regrets her surgical procedures, and wishes she could turn back time, the rest is simply conjecture. Hollywood starlets feel the pressure to improve their appearance, and live up to an unrealistic standard of beauty that they are often depicted as upholding thanks to digital retouching of photographs. The media is as quick to praise them for their appearance as they are to tear them down. It’s basically like Mean Girls, where the media are the Plastics, and the celebs are EVERYONE ELSE with Tabloid Magazines acting as the Burn Book. This Who cover also features Jackie O and how she lost 8 KG. Congrats Jackie, but how about you keep that to yourself next time, instead of adding to the pressure women already feel to uphold your standard of beauty?
Best – Vogue
Worst – Dolly.
Honourable Mention – Marie Claire
What do you think? Did I get it Right? Did I get it Wrong??