I was caught without reading material one night last week, so I picked up a copy of Allure and read it on the ferry and later into the night. It was the first time since Blueprint went under that I've picked up a magazine specifically aimed at the ladies, so I think my system was kind of unprepared for the shock*.
After a few minutes of leafing through, all I could think was, I just paid four bucks for a publication that does nothing but tell me how ugly I am. Good lord, I used to subscribe to these things! And I did. I used to justify it with arguments like, "It's mind candy." Swear to God -- every semester at finals time, I'd load up on Cosmo, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Vogue and Self and binge on the glossies between study sessions. All summer, the other lifeguards and I would bring in fresh issues and flip through them on breaks.
Have these things gotten more negative? Have the standards for women's appearances been stealthily climbing up for the last ten years? Or has my tolerance for this crap dropped because I'm no longer exposing myself to it on a regular basis? I don't know. Evidently, the spring issue of Ms. tackles this question, determines that chick media can lead to women's low political efficacy, and according to Jezebel, concludes:
"My research with college age women indicates that the less women consume media, the less they self-objectify, particularly if they avoid fashion magazines. [Emphasis ours.] By shutting out media, girls and women can create mental and emotional space for true self-exploration."
I haven't had a chance to read the article yet, but I'd like to explore this thesis more in-depth. It seems sort of weird that any article blaming the media for making women less engaged in the world around them would also advocate dropping media consumption. How are women supposed to get involved in the world when they don't know anything about it? Something's missing -- either in the article summary or the article itself.
My most consistent media exposures at this point are NPR, Comedy Central and the WSJ. Given my recent reaction to Allure, I'm clearly out of touch with whatever pervasive media is sending negative messages about women's appearance. But I am wondering: anyone else notice their reactions to ads changing after upping or lowering their chick-media consumption?