‘Do not ready beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly’ says the infamous Baz Luhrman line from Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen. Like all the other lyrics in that classic song, its so very true.
When I was younger, I used to think the reason it was true was simply because all of the models in it were so beautiful that was why it was a bad idea. It makes you feel bad by comparison. But the truth is, its actually more heinous and toxic than that.
Firstly, there is a level of airbrushing and photo shopping that now makes the images of models so unattainable. It warps our sense of how we look. Representation is everything and when you don’t see someone who looks like you, when what is held up as beautiful doesn’t look like you, then you don’t feel beautiful. Even if the image isn’t photoshopped, there have been hours spent on a model’s hair, make up and styling, meaning that look is unattainable for the majority of us.
My biggest issue with beauty and celebrity gossip magazines (#notallmags) though (and a clear example of this is the Daily Mail) is the language they use about women. They rip women apart. The front cover of most women’s magazines are littered with headlines/images like ‘JLO cellulite shocker’, Kim Kardashian looks huge when pregnant etc. Jennifer Aniston’s ticking biological clock. Sometimes it can be tempting to pick up a magazine like that. I have cellulite and I used to enjoy seeing which celebs had it too as I thought it made me feel better but actually, the subliminal message is cellulite is bad. It’s mocking the women for it, shaming them. Its not celebrating it. The women themselves aren’t in control of these images. It’s usually a paparazzi shot, gained by nefarious means. Its not like a body positive Instagram account when a woman is choosing to show off her body in order to empower herself and others.
The underlying message is that cellulite/fat/a un-made up face etc is shameful and gross. Which leads straight into them selling you products from their advertisers that can ‘fix’ these so called problems which weren’t a problem until their industry made them one. They are making women feel insecure and then profiting off it. And we walk right into it and hand them our money.
And whether you intend to our not. You compare yourself to these other women. You judge yourself and them harshly. That’s just not ok. We should be supportive of diversity, each other and ourselves. Its not just bodies either but love lives, achievements, parenting etc. Basically, anything you can criticise a woman for, they commercialise it and turn it into a spectator sport. You spend some time on the Mail Online celebrity pages and I guarantee you’ll end up feeling worse about yourself for about a year afterwards.
THIS IMAGE MAKES ME SO HAPPY. Size diversity, shape diversity (not just the hourglass figure that’s often the only representation larger bodies are granted), trans visibility, skin colour diversity AND a lingerie brand celebrating all sizes of breasts. BOPO MAGIC PEOPLE! ✨ I would love to have seen differently abled bodies being represented (although let’s remember disabilities are not always visible), and some older women, but this is still pretty damn good. Mainstream brands – take note!????? Photo by a Brazilian lingerie company called @braletteboutique ✨
Cherry Healy covers this really well in her recent book, Letters to my Fanny ‘…It’s like we’re made up of different appetites, and we can choose to feed or starve different parts of ourselves – and – these magazines feed a not-very-nice side of our beings. It’s the side that compares ourselves to other women, that thinks we are what we can afford to buy, that judges someone on where they go on holiday or how cool their shoes are. In our right mind we know these views are puerile views but if we’re absorbing them, its hard to remember that.’
This is one of the reasons why I love blogging/vlogging as an industry. We are often criticised by the traditional press and journalists but blogging and vlogging is great for body positivity and diversity. Most vloggers will vlog with both make up on and off. Most bloggers/vloggers will be brutally honest about their lives, thoughts and feelings. Its accessible. You don’t have to be young, white, skinny and pretty to make it as a social influencer (although obviously, success seems to come easier to them as is often the case). Those that make it and last, tend to be authentic. I post live videos of myself every day on my instagram stories, I rarely have my make up on, often I’ve just got out of bed and haven’t washed or brushed my hair. About as many of my YouTube videos have me without make up as with and we often sign off our vlogs in our pjs. I’m not even wearing a bra in loads of my vlogs. I feel a duty to keep it real. To not pretend. I’m not a model or actress, I’m a regular woman who is just trying to get through life the best I can and hoping to make others feel a little better about themselves along the way.
#happyinternationalwomensday One of these underarms does not make me more feminine than the other. One of these underarms does not make me more masculine than the other. Both men and women grow hair. Adults have body hair, it’s children who do not. I’m not a child! One doesn’t make me smellier or grosser than the other. It really shouldn’t have any impact on how I’m perceived by anyone, or myself. Let’s stop shaming women for having body hair. I don’t want my daughter’s first thoughts on growing body hair to be shame and embarrassment like mine were. I want to feel attractive if I don’t shave. I want women to be truly free to choose whether they want to remove their body/facial hair or not. Not because we’ve been indoctrinated by society to only feel attractive if we are hairless. You may think this is a frivolous issue for #iwd2017 but it’s just one part of the wider issue isn’t it? When we are worrying about crap like armpit hair and wasting time with it’s ridiculous never ending cycle of removal then we are wasting time we could be enjoying or making those big gains in life, politics and business. If you add up the time and money spent over a life’s time it wouldn’t be insignificant. I’m so over it. Or at least I’m trying to be. Do join me won’t you. (Ps both armpits now look the same again, hairy or not, they should probably match I guess)
If you are going to be advertised to, then don’t pay for it!
When I see a woman reading a celebrity gossip magazine I want to rip it from her hands and set it on fire. Its like a turkey voting for Christmas. I honestly think there is little worse that you can consume as a woman. I think there is a huge gap in the market for a women’s magazines that are empowering. Ones that don’t have 72 pages of advertisements in them. You know bloggers get so much shit for doing ads but we disclose, you often don’t get that with magazines. When I write a blog post that is sponsored with money or I am given a product for coverage I notify my readers both with a banner at the top of the page, within the body of the text and then again with a full disclaimer at the bottom. If you are to trust me, which I want you to, then you deserve my honesty, integrity and authenticity. It’s the least I can do.
But magazines literally never declare when something is gifted – and all of those products were. Those hotel trips and mini breaks were given to the journalist who wrote about them in the magazine. Advertisers might say ‘we’ll take an ad out in the next 6 runs if you feature or products or don’t feature our competitors’, so even the posts that aren’t sponsored are heavily influenced. And you’ve paid to buy this! With a blogger, you are getting the content for free because we advertise and we are super clear about it. Yet we are held to a higher account as an individual providing free content than a multi staffed magazine that you’ve paid to manipulate you. But I’ll have a rant about that another day! So I’ve made a concious effort to not buy or read these trashy mags anymore. Really, I think we shouldn’t be asking consumers to pay for content at all anymore, ESPECIALLY if that content has advertising as it’s the brands who should be paying, not the consumers.
So where can you get your fix instead?
- Instagram is great these days. Curate your feed to be like a magazine, love fashion, then follow fashion bloggers who have the style you like. I love home style accounts so follow a lot of feeds with interiors. Whatever you love, follow those people and for the love of the goddess, stop following people who make you feel like shit.
- Find bloggers who write about and share things you like, whether it’s activities or fashion or tech, there will be a blog for you. You can go on Bloglovin and set up a feed for your favourite bloggers so they show in one place.
- If you love celebrity gossip then find it in less misogynistic places, like Just Jared or Jezebel instead of the Daily Fail.
- Join Facebook groups full of inspiring women and fun posts. I love Punky Moms UK – full of alt fashion and meme drop mondays which make me ‘megalol’. Join my Facebook group, The Nomipalony Freehouse where we chat about feminist issues and anything else we fancy. Can I Breastfeed in it? Is a fun Facebook group where women share high street finds that are suitable for breastfeeding in, it’s a lovely community.
- Start a Whatsapp group with your pals where you can share articles, celeb gossip and clothes etc that you love.
- If you need a paper fix then find magazines that are better, like Riposte Magazine, Fourth Trimester magazine and the Happy News.
- Start listening to Podcasts, they are a great source of easy information that you can listen to in your spare moments. I listen on my commutes and when I’m doing chores like cooking or stacking the dishwasher. My favourites are Jonathan Van Ness’ Getting Curious, Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert, Dirty Mother Pukka and Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete.
- Obviously, it kind of goes without saying but read books instead.
Whatever you do, fill your life full of positivity and inspiration and stop buying messages from companies headed by men that profit from making you feel less than. Magazines may seem like a frivolous topic but I think its a small, easy to make change that could have a much bigger impact. Now, are you with me?
Do you have any recommendations for magazines that fill you up instead of tear you apart? Let me know in the comments.
If you liked this post you might also like my inspiring feminist blog posts round up!