Tag Archives: Cosmopolitan

Why are Women’s Magazines All the Same?

Women’s magazines are generally obsessed with the things they think most women are interested in; fashion, diets, men and sex.

Of course many women are interested in these things, but are they really the only things they want to read about?  Especially when most of the content isn’t even that original.

It seems every month readers of magazine such as Glamour [the biggest selling magazine in the UK] and Cosmopolitan are given the same menu of sex tips and beauty shortcuts.

It seems there is no market for women’s magazines which are not full of shiny, beautiful [and airbrushed] people who we can aspire to be like.

The French market is very similar, but in 2009 Grégory Lassus-Debat launched Causette [or “chat”],  a magazine where the women are not airbrushed, have cellulite and are interested in things such as politics.

Lassus-Debut was denied a loan because the bank thought such a magazine had no market and no future.

However, sales last month had reached 25,000 for this year, about the same as She or Easy Living in the UK.  Not a huge market, but a sustainable one.

Lassus-Debat told The Times

“I didn’t do any market studies, but I instinctively felt that there would be a demand for a magazine without Kate Moss and diets in it,”

According to Lassus-Debat the magaizine is not feminist per se , but

“A magazine that is interested in women’s lives, in their struggles and in the defence of their rights,”

The last issue included stories about the women’s lobby in the European Union, non-violent resistance on the West Bank and the decline of the  le Mouvement de Libération des Femmes [The women’s liberation movement].

Not your typical women’s magazine fodder.

I argued last week that women’s magazines in the UK reinforce stereotypes rather than challenge them.  Chausette does the opposite.

And if there is a market in France, why not in the UK as well?


America’s Next Top Model, Cosmo and being a “Real” Woman

Waspish: Judge J Alexander showed how his hands fit all the way round the 6

This week Ann Ward was announced as the latest winner of America’s Next Top Model.  She is 6ft 2in and  who weighs less than 100 lbs.  Her waist so slender you could put both hands around it.

Of course we all know models are ridiculously thin; they collapse on runways and even die because they survive on diets of lettuce and diet coke [as in the case of Luisel Ramos.]

Incidently, when Ramos collapsed and died on the runway at a Uruguay’s fashion show she weighed just over 7 stone, the same as Ann Ward.

It seems that the public outcry that resulted from Ramos’ death in 2006, the banning of models who had a BMI of less than 18 and the crowning of  “plus size” Whitney Thompson as AMTM winner in 2008 may have been a passing phase.

Whitney Thompson by the way, the model with the “fuller figure” wears UK size 8-10.

We thought the craze of size zero and super svelte figures had come and gone but I’m not sure we’ve moved on that far.

Cosmopolitan, the magazine for “Fun, Fearless Females” is adamantly anti super-skinny and pro “real” women.

The  May 2009 issue was the “naked body confidence issue.”  The front cover has the following headlines:

  • “Cellulite is not a crime.  Cosmo gets real about women’s bodies”
  • “Real women share their body confidence tips”
  • “The fight back against size zero”

All very positive.

But what exactly does a “real” woman look like?

The cellulite story is about Mischa Barton, who is 5 ft 9 in and a size 10, criticised for being too fat.  Obviously a sad and ridiculous criticism.

Size 10 is healthy, but it’s still considerable smaller than the average woman in the UK [who wears a size 16]

Next the story about size zero.  It’s really not a bad article, highlighting the double standards in Hollywood [can you imagine the female version of Seth Rogen playing opposite the male version of Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up], the insanity of competitive dieting and the sad reality that a size 12 woman can’t get a date in LA.

So who are the women promoting loving your body?  Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jessica Simpson and Denise Van Outen.  Again, none of them unhealthily thin, but not exactly the typical girl of the street either.

Surely only having thin, beautiful women promoting a love your body campaign means it loses a little bit of credibility.

I’m sure that if a lot of the women who have body hang-ups  looked like Denise Van Outen, they might find the idea of loving your body a little more realistic.

And what are we meant to think when Mischa Barton says: “I have days where I’m like, ‘oh, I hate this or that about myself.’ It happens a lot.”

She puts this down to being a “normal girl.”

So why does being a normal girls mean worrying about your weight, thinking about cellulite and get stressed about your dress size.  And does it really help when in  Cosmo world normal girls look like Denise Van Outen or Jennifer Love Hewitt?

OK, so super-skinny is out, but size 16 isn’t exactly in either, and in the end women’s magazines do more to perpetuate  standards of skinniness than make larger than average women [and even average sized women] feel good about their bodies.