Observation: Ever since I was a little kid, I have constantly been bombarded with numerous images of women and men, and how each gender should look. As a teenager, I have been exposed to a lot of this in the media, but for this assignment I will be focusing on image advertising in magazines. Around my house are lots of magazines. My mom always ordered the classic women’s magazines, like Chatelaine and Glamour. Whereas my dad has always been more interesting in magazines about farming and agriculture.
Purpose: To assess how women and men are portrayed in media, specifically magazines. And to discover what kind of techniques advertisers use to create an unrealistic body image for both males and females.
Hypothesis: Based off of my general observation of magazines that have been laying around my house, I can hypotheses that the women’s magazines will primarily be full of skinny models, makeup advertisements (probably some foundations and wrinkle cream), and the odd plus size model, that aren’t really plus size. I also hypotheses that the agriculture magazine’s will be full of men in work clothes working on their farms/crops and doing “manly” things.
Research and Further Observations: For this assignment, I have chosen 4 magazines. A Chatelaine, Glamour, Farm Forum, and AgriSuccess. I have found that in the magazines primarily targeted towards men who farm are full of just that. There are numerous pictures of men in tractors, on the field, and lots of photos of healthy, rich crops. I noticed that there isn’t a specific body image that is portrayed throughout the articles. There were many men that were of different shapes and sizes, and didn’t appear to be products of photo shop. Although, I found that every man in the two magazines appeared to be Caucasian. But that was most likely due to the fact that nearly all farmers in this neck of the woods is Caucasian. The only picture that portrayed a body image/stereotype was this advertisement:
One other thing that I found surprising was that 2/3 times that a women was in the two magazines; she was along side a man (most likely her partner).
Only 1 of the 3 pictures of a women was she alone, and it was because it was a picture of her beside the article she had written for the magazine. Furthermore, the women’s magazines were much different then the magazines that were more likely of a mans interests. But, they were much of what I predicted to be. For example, this was on the third page of the Chatelaine magazine:
And as I predicted, much of the Chatelaine magazine had followed what I thought it would. It is primarily focused on getting a better appearance through beauty products, dieting and recipes, and accepting who you are. Throughout the articles there were numerous pictures of women, specifically women wearing tight swimwear. I was encouraged to see that not all of the women looked unrealistically slim, but still, most were fairly small and petite. On the other hand, I found that the Glamour magazine was much more empowering for women. For example, the cover has many empowering statements. Such as “show off that body!” and “Women are strong as hell”. Also, the woman on the front cover is a black women and isn’t stick thin. She has some meat on her bones, but she is still very toned and glowy, almost to an unrealistic point. Much like the Chatelaine mag, Glamour has numerous advertisements of makeup that portray unreasonable beauty standards for women. It also contains many fashion, hair, and lifestyle tips, that are not practical for an everyday woman. One of the articles in this magazine was about woman in the Olympics, and contained this photo:
I find this particular picture empowering because it is advertising a sport that is typically orientated with men. As a woman who plays hockey, I find it comforting to see other women playing sports that mostly men play. I like this picture the most because it is going against the grain and is something different. It isn’t just another ad about a foundation or wrinkle cream that you should be using. It’s actually different and fights gender typical stereotypes; I wish more women’s and men’s magazines would stop enforcing specific gender roles.
Data Analysis: The whole purpose of this assignment was to assess how women and men are portrayed in media, specifically magazines. And to determine what kind of methods are used in magazines to create unrealistic body images for both males and females. From the four magazines that I analysed, I found that the men and women in them weren’t portrayed as badly as I thought they would be. Mostly in the men’s magazines, their bodies weren’t represented in any certain way. In fact, I think body images in those two specific resources were very realistic. Whereas in the women’s magazines, there were still numerous pictures that included flawless, skinny, toned models. There were a few plus size models, but again they were really toned and flawless. Which is great, but it isn’t really realistic. No one should expect all women to be that toned and glowy. Finally, I found that the techniques that advertisers used the most was pictures. I think they use pictures the most because they catch your eye and are very easy to compare yourself to. Which in some cases, may be unhealthy. Overall, the woman’s articles were a lot more unrealistic then the men’s.
Conclusion: Finally, I have come to the conclusion that I think magazines portray an unrealistic image for both men and women. I believe that men would be more unrealistically represented in a male fashion magazine, or men from the acting industry, since most of them are super fit. But since I chose a farming magazine, I think that those particular resources were not focused on images of the men, but more so the crops that they were growing. And for women, I thought the magazines might be worse, but I was uplifted to see some realistic body images and a few articles that went against common gender roles (the basketball picture and article that went along with it).
Glamour Magazine, issue July 2016
Chatelaine Magazine, issue June 2016
Farm Forum Magazine, issue Spring 2016
AgriSuccess Magazine, issue May/June 2016