I was early for my train this morning so stopped by the newsagents to browse through magazines. I love magazines, they are for holidays, relaxing, they are a treat because they’re not a ‘proper’ read.
Confronted with a whole array of them, it struck me that nearly every cover could be summed up thus: Look!! Women’s bodies to judge and mock. Whether fat or thin, you too can pore over every roll of flesh or visible bone.
I flicked through a magazine with “worries over super skinnies” on the front. A whole feature on women who were too thin (who did look remarkably like L) and then a shorter feature on women who have “got it right”. All of them in bikinis, because obviously a reader needs to scrutinise every angle. One of these lucky women hadn’t always ‘got it right’, in the past “she confessed to putting on 4lb due to snacking on junk food”. Confessed. Like a crime, right? A whole 4lb. Call the bloody fat police, some greedy bitch is putting on a whole 4lb because she ate some biscuits.
The problem we face is not pictures of skinny models, but the industry of judging women on what they eat or whether they eat, how much they weigh, the partners they have, or don’t have, the clothes they wear, their pregnancies and post pregnancy weight loss, whether they drink too much, smoke, have lines or cellulite, the message is sent out to all of us: You are being watched, you are under scrutiny and everything you do or don’t do will be measured, analysed and found wanting in some way. And worst of all, we do it to ourselves. It is women who buy and consume these magazines and they might as well just roll them into a tube and beat themselves and their sisters and friends black and blue with them.
For the record, when I said I loved magazines, my favourites are home magazines. Ok, occasionally Marie Claire. It’s the same though, I devour each issue and then feel strangely dissatisfied with the state of my soft furnishings or want to embark on a new decorating project. Perhaps not as bad, or as harmful, but still a clever con trick where I pay money to be told how crap I am. It’s time to fight back.