As a lover of fashion I naturally enjoy keeping up on the trends and I’m unashamed to say that I do buy Cosmo, Glamour and Elle – I even buy More or Look on occasion. I’ve mentioned before that I’m an extremely visual person and enjoy looking at clothes and most of all the way in which they are presented via shoots, although the spreads in the latter two publications are often an eyesore at best. Unfortunately part and parcel of reading these magazines is that I’m exposed to the exclusively heteronormative drivel that they like to feature alongside all the great articles about politics, media and fashion. If there’s one thing these pages have taught me about female targeted media it’s that we don’t exist apart from in relation to our men. We’re always shoved into this box of “how to please your man” guides to beauty and femininity. What of the women of the LGBTQ community who aren’t interested in pleasing men? What of those of us who fit outside the beauty norm? What of androgynous women who don’t want to look girly but still want a man?
You might be thinking “well don’t read Cosmo, Glamour or Elle”. But why should these very real examples of women be excluded from what is defined as a WOMEN’S MAGAZINE that targets WOMEN? Because, my beautiful beautiful “otherly” types, these magazines are quite simply not for you, that’s why. Nobody will ever tell you this because they want you to still buy them, you might be included every so often when it’s considered hot topic to stand up for gay/trans/fat/disabled rights – but generally these publications aren’t about you, they are about the majority because that’s what sells. Well if there are so many people who don’t fit this ideal of what it is to be a woman, why are these magazines so popular? Because unfortunately there are so many people who don’t tick these ‘make boys like you’ boxes and because we’re bombarded with these sorts of messages there are a lot of women and girls who feel like failures. This creates a vacuum for women and girls who want to be just like what they are told is the ideal woman who buy and buy and buy to try and achieve this.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of how far our media has come in stopping the harmful perpetuation of cookiecutter girl and boy stereotypes but I can still see the media trying to crowbar us into these shapes every now and then because we are easier to control and predict if they push us into wanting the same things. Ultimately men are still seen as the ultimate prize and we are to compete with one another for our prince charming by seeing who can be the most mediocre and compliant. Men are the dominant ones who hold all the power and women are subservient and eager to please – this ideology is so outdated and designed to keep both of us exactly where they want us while neglected anyone who doesn’t come under these categories. Don’t even get me started on ethnic representation in women’s magazines – that is a whole other post for another time.
I’ve harped on long enough now so I’ll draw this rant to a close. I’d love to see a magazine that features all sorts of interesting people from different backgrounds covering a range of different issues while still maintaining all of that great content on media, politics, advice, fashion and beauty (ALL kinds of beauty!). If anyone knows of any such magazines online or otherwise I’d love to see them! Drop me a line or something.