As of late, many popular magazines are featuring models that do not fit the traditional mold. Glamour magazine kicked off this “trend” of conscientious editing with a spread in their September issue starring Lizzie Miller. Miller is an average, if not slightly larger than average, sized woman.
A picture of Miller sitting pretty, in only her underwear, was run along side an article about embracing one’s body. Glamour’s reader response was overwhelming. Apparently, I’m not the only one shocked to find such enlightened casting within the pages of a popular women’s magazine.
Other examples of refreshing reading include V Magazine’s “One Size Fits All” photos, French Elle’s focus on plus-sized models, and Australian Harper Bazaar’s spotlight on Crystal Renn. Magazine editors’ newfound tolerance for the untraditionally beautiful extends beyond matters of weight. French Elle and Marie Claire have both had makeup-less women grace their covers.
I’m undecided about magazines’ recent efforts to broaden their definition of physical beauty worth photographing. I’m wrapping up my final year of being the head of my school’s young women’s leadership club. The discussions we host are attended by a small yet devoted group. Without fail, our discussions about fashion magazines draw a big crowd. It seems as though most girls can understand and discuss the ways in which magazines make young woman feel ugly.
Disliking, yet continuing to buy, the magazines that contain proof of the unattainable beauty we aspire to, is a shared experience for most of my peers. We all love to hate the ways magazines make us feel. So I am thrilled to see that women’s complicated relationships with magazines are paying off and editors are starting to listen. It’s awesome to see full figures and fresh faces. Hooray for magazines!
Well, sorta kinda maybe. At the end of the day, companies want their magazines to sell. They’ve simply discovered that women want to see glorified versions of their own reflections. I’m not buying that, at the end of the day, magazines aren’t hawking the same goods and preaching the same old lines (you’re not good enough until you buy X, Y and Z). It saddens me that we’ve accepted the magazine’s apology so unquestioningly. I’m not sure a few good issues counteract the truth that magazines will most likely continue to make young women feel inadequate.
In the time it takes to snap a picture of a plus-sized model, the magazine industry had American women eating out of their hands (or in this case, not eating and dieting intensely.) I’m not even sure the magazines did a good job of “revolutionizing” their pages. Margaret and Dodai at Jezebel call attention to some of their shortcomings.
My biggest issue with these new kinds of magazines (okay, okay, “issue” is not clever) is simple. As much as I love to see magazines giving women what they want, I’m a little disappointed that young women, including myself, are still looking to magazines to give them said things.
Am I the only one who thinks it’s silly to expect the playground bully to compliment you? And just because the bully got in trouble with the teacher and has stopped insulting you does not mean you’re BFFs.
I’ve written about how young women look for advice in all the wrong places. We seek advice from celebrities and we hope to find comforts in magazines. Unfortunately (despite those rare, shining examples of progressive editing) I doubt magazines will ever be anything other than the bully we let into our homes every month.