Women’s magazines detrimental to readers

Monta Reinfelde

This column is supposed to be exclusively about fashion, but because the fashion scene on WKU’s campus hasn’t changed drastically since the last time I wrote, I will devote this space to talking about women’s magazines in relation to fashion, beauty and fitness.

I remember my grandfather buying my first magazine when I was 6 years old. Later, as I grew up and my interests changed, my choice of magazines changed with me. However, since that first Barbie magazine in 1997, I have never stopped reading, and my interest in monthly glossies has turned into a career.

Pretty much everything about women’s fashion and lifestyle magazines attracts readers — the beautiful photos, pretty models, amazing fashions, screaming headlines, girly colors and well-developed layouts. However, regardless of the satisfaction of a new, glossy and perfumed magazine lying on your lap on a cold fall afternoon, they are as harmful as they are beautiful.

Only three minutes of exposure to images published in current women’s magazines greatly increases the risk of developing a distorted self image, according to research conducted at the University of Missouri.

Jennifer Nelson, a former freelance writer for such magazines agrees and has released a book called “Unbrushed Nation: The Lure and Loathing of Women’s Magazines.”

“While the average woman is five-foot, four-inches tall and wears a size 12, the magazines are filled with women who are five eleven and wear a size 2,” Nelson wrote. “They all seem to hover in the twenty-something age bracket, and their bodies are as mythic as Greek goddesses, whether sporting bikinis for magazines like Fitness and Shape or decked out in couture for the covers of Vogue and Elle.”

My love for food is bigger than my wish to count calories. Therefore, I always skipped those pages, advertising the latest, groundbreaking diets and fitness moves that supposedly help to lose a lot of weight in just a couple of days.

However, I know many girls struggling with their body image just because of some fictional, media-promoted beauty standards, even though they look absolutely good and healthy.

Besides crazy and literally impossible dieting as well as fitness, another story is about fashions portrayed in the magazines.

Whether it’s Seventeen, Glamour, NYLON or Vogue, the outfits they advertise on fashion pages are straight up unaffordable. Yes, you might find something in your budget, but that new fall coat you really, really like will probably cost as much as your one month’s salary. Who can even afford that?

But, because these “know-everything” magazines said we have to have the items they carry in their pages to be cool, we believe them. It’s better to fall a month behind the rent payment than to look old fashioned, right?

It’s unbelievable how little these magazines actually think about the well-being of their readers. They would throw us under the train for bigger profits and amazing collaborations with huge advertisers as well as fashion companies.

Unfortunately, not a lot of women know this. We blame our on and off dieting or always decreasing bank accounts on ourselves, which is the reason why we always go back to reading magazines to look for the next tips in how to “deal” with our issues, digging an even bigger hole. Sad, but true.