Monday, April 9, 2012

The "Right Kind" of Readers and Repetitive Messages

So coincidentally before reading this article, I had just purchased a SELF magazine to read over the weekend. I hadn't purchased a magazine in a long time, what with all the reading I had to do for school and reading all three of the Hunger Game trilogies in a week (ya I was a little obsessed) I just didn't have the time, nor the desire to sit down and read through a Cosmo, or Vogue getting the same content and images about sex, how to "perfect your perfect self," organizing your life, etc. But for some reason, last week I decided to buy a Self and it actually allowed for me to read it in a different way after reading Gills article on "Gender in Magazines." 

Her section on contradiction versus coherence was particularly very intriguing and I set out to look at the content that was contradictory in the magazine. While Self is all about the empowerment of the individual woman, of being free and active to do what she pleases, the advertising and content of the magazine seems to mold her and engulf her into more barriers and ideals of beauty than seems possible. While there are images of women, who are active and outside doing and accomplishing things that are fulfilling, the advertisements on every page send the message that you need to be conscientious of your weight (diet pills and protein shakes had full page spreads), that you need to maintain great nails, hair and skin, even if you are doing things that are active like running and working out, and that the clothes you wear will help you perform better. This myriad of images in hard to achieve, but we are greatly influenced by it. While I like Self because it is not as repetitive with its sex stories, fashion, and content, like Cosmo is, it still maintains a structure of blurring the advertising and content that all of these magazines do to create contradictory messages (Ten pages in, Jose Cuervo had an advert for "light Margarita" mix that was only 95 calories...since when does drinking helping you get six-pack abs like they say you can achieve on page 85?). 

I've noticed overtime that I have stopped purchasing these magazines because they all seem to be sending the same message and images about women. Yes, I will indulge occasionally like I did this weekend, but now it just seems to be a waste of time to try and replicate these images of femininity that our culture puts out month after month for us. It doesnt seem to be changing anytime soon, and I'm quite frankly tired of getting the same message every month. 

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