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What roles do magazines play in women's lives? Do you think they influence women's self-concept? If so, how?

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Introduction

Gender and Information Studies Question 5- what roles do magazines play in women's lives? Do you think they influence women's self-concept? If so, how? The woman's magazine came into existence in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century (Margaret Beetham, 1996 pg 6). They were generally aimed at the upper and middle class ladies, as these were the only women who had spare leisure time and the disposable income to purchase luxuries such as weekly magazines. During 1949-74 there were two extremely dominant themes in women's magazines. First there was the overwhelming star billing given to love and marriage- and the family. Second there was the heavy emphasis placed upon the Self, and the responsibility ethic laid upon every woman to be the self staring, self finishing producer of herself (Marjorie Ferguson 1983 pg 44). It is clear from the beginning that women's magazines promoted a picture of a 'perfect woman', which still exists today. One could argue the continued success of women's magazines is due to the development of the magazine as a commodity. They have also become a crucial site for the advertising and sale of other commodities, whether nightgowns or convenience foods (Margaret Beetham 1996 pg 2). Women's magazines play a vital role in many reader's lives. But do they wrongly portray a perfect woman? Many women struggle to maintain a perfect home, their children and a happy marriage. ...read more.

Middle

This lead to not only a preoccupation in the way women viewed themselves, but also in the way women coped with all aspects of their life. Today women have a role more than a mother and a housewife these aspects are not as apparent, although the emphasis is upon physical appearance. Many magazines are trying to keep up with the changing environment concerning women's roles. Some adverts do not portray a female as a 'goddess' but as a 'normal human being.' On the other hand some magazines fail to keep up with changes in the environment and stick to the perfect image of a woman. One could claim if women's magazines do not recognise this change they will find themselves becoming less popular and appealing to those females who do not feel they have to conform to traditional values. There are many examples in women's magazines today that promote the idea of a perfect woman. With the rise in women's monthly glossies, readers are increasingly faced with a barrage of images of thin and well-groomed ladies. These magazines appear to lack in written content, this arguably is a major factor towards the huge preoccupation with ones body. Together features and adverts in magazines reinforce the 'ideal beauty.' Features that appear in such monthly and weekly magazines include: 'Buy me and you'll look awesome!' ...read more.

Conclusion

This is evident in the increasing appreciation of different kinds of beauty. For example magazines and the media in general are beginning to see other looks as beautiful. The current fixation is on Latino women. These women are more curvaceous and do not conform to the waif like models seen in the press. One could claim that women's magazines face a rapid decline if they do not reflect these changes in their content. Gender roles just aren't as important in daily life anymore ('Women's magazines are dead' 2000). If our culture is accepting this then magazines also need to do so. A rise in the power in women has lead to them no longer wanting to read superficial articles and look at waif like models, which today is deemed unattractive. We are moving into a society where people have access to anything anytime. This is due to the rise in the use of the Internet. Paperback magazines do not fit in with the changing cultures, as women have access to information and articles 24 hours a day which are far more interesting and relevant to their changing lives. Magazines do continue to effect women's self-perception, although changes are being made, arguably not quick enough. However in our society being beautiful will always be desirable. There is nothing bad to wish to be beautiful but people would feel much happier to find some more versatile images in a magazine than just the skinny Kate Moss ('The image of femininity in women's magazines' 1998). ...read more.

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