Open any beauty, fashion and lifestyle magazine for teens and you’ll find the same messages: beauty is the most important quality women posses, we must hide any sign of imperfections, and make-up, clothes, shoes, designer bags, and other worldly items prove our worth in the world. The cover alone is splashed with words and phrases that are meant to influence us all.
Every ad is targeted toward looking younger, thinner, and better, or so they say.
Obviously, there is a huge flaw in the magazine industry because almost every theme promoted on the crisp, glossy pages is impossible to achieve. Perfection is unattainable. No matter how slim your waist is or how shiny your hair is, you will not be perfect. There is so much more to women’s worth than just outward appearances. It’s that simple. However, for girls who are growing up, these magazines hold a lot of power. Seeing pictures of the “perfect ideal girl” can really make an impact on the way girls see society, women, and themselves.
I think Hollywood has a lot to do with the pressures plastered on the pages of the magazines because celebrities have a big influence on teen girls. Imagine yourself back in your awkward middle school days. If you saw a photo of Jennifer Lawrence, whom you put on the highest pedestal, wearing True Religion jeans while holding a Louis Vuitton bag on the cover of Seventeen magazine, you’d probably wish, even for a split second, that you had all those nice things. Maybe then, you’d think of yourself the same way you think of JLaw.
Having (or not having) the latest or trendiest products can definitely affect a woman’s self esteem, and magazines enable this to happen. No one like the feeling of incompetence or not being “good enough” and that’s essentially what magazines are counting on through the ads inside. It’s really sick that the fashion and beauty industry can tell women that they need a certain product to be better, when in reality, they are just making a profit at your expense. It is very interesting that this is not just an issue with teenage girls. It spans so much bigger than that. It is a problem associated with women of all ages from skin rejuvenation products to the newest weight loss technique. Almost every woman in the world can identify to feeling pressured to look a certain way. That just proves how deep this phenomenon is rooted in our society today.
I don’t believe that the magazine industry necessarily has the sole responsibility to present more realistic portrayals of women because technically, that is not their job. Let’s be real. Magazines are sources of entertainment. Even I have to admit that reading Cosmo is one of my guilty pleasures. It would be a great achievement if the magazine industry all of a sudden took Kate Moss off the cover of Vogue in exchange with a normal looking human being, but I just don’t see that happening in the future. Just like we know that sex sells, apparently beauty, perfection, fitness, and material things, sell too.
Magazines are meant to make a profit, no matter what the cost. There might be some ethics issues laced into this industry but money is money for some organizations.
I do, however, believe that magazines aren’t all harmful. It should be up to parents to inform their daughters that the “perfection” and “beauty” in the magazines are not realistic, but purely entertainment. There has to be a healthy balance between liking certain products or things because you genuinely do, rather than wanting something just because of what the magazine tells you it will do for you.
I saw a picture with the words “Comparison is the thief of joy” on the internet, and it really stuck with me because of its incredible accuracy. The real problem here is the problem we have with ourselves. Even if the magazine covers reflect truer images, there is always going to be someone who is negatively influenced by it. We must learn to accept ourselves for who we are, and be happy with that without immediately comparing our bodies to those of the girls’ on the cover the latest issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.
Then, just then, when you remind yourself that every photo is retouched and that nothing is organic (No, not even that picture of JLaw), and you can be happy with the way you look, even if it’s nothing like your favorite movie star, it’s much easier to enjoy all of the fun aspects that can be found in magazines.
Gif found on tumblr.com
Click here to watch a crazy Buzzfeed video of just how celebrities can be transformed with the help of photoshop.