As an Eating Disorders Therapist, the majority of clients who come to me have poor body image. And honestly, in this current time we live in, it is not surprising. Insecurity sells. It sells magazines, it sells beauty products, it sells cosmetic surgery and procedures from anti-ageing facials to Botox, it sells diets. So the more magazines write and print about looks and bodies, the more advertising space they can sell to cosmetic companies and diet systems. And there is no point in being naive about this, these are multi-billion dollar industries worldwide. Think about how much for example L’Oreal or Revlon pay their ‘Face’ – we’ve all read the articles about how much J-Lo (Gillette Venus), Cheryl Cole (L’Oreal) or Kate Moss (Rimmel) are paid per year to represent these products. If these companies can hand over millions per year to one person representing their brand, and then pay the exorbitant money they must pay for billboard advertising, TV advertising worldwide, magazine advertising etc, their marketing budgets alone must run to, I’m guessing, up to 100 million a year. So imagine how much they are making in return for that investment? So then imagine what magazines must be doing to support this type of advertising? Selling insecurity.
The Blog That Sets Homework?
If you read magazines (and this is for women and men’s magazines), I invite you to set aside some time, either right now, later today, or sometime soon when you know you have about an hour to spare. Go get several of your back issues and a sheet of paper and a pen. Taking one magazine at a time, do the following research:
(1) How many pages does the magazine have?
(2) How many pages are devoted to articles on diet/’healthy’ eating? Body shape? ‘Beauty’?
(if you want the statistics, divide the number of pages (2) by the number of pages (1), and multiply by 100 to get the percentage of the magazine devoted to diets, body image and beauty).
(3) How many advertisements are in the magazine in total?
(4) How many ads are for beauty products? Diet or ‘healthy’ food products?
(Again for the stats, divide (4) by (3) and multiply by 100)
POSITIVE MESSAGES IN MAGAZINES
(5) How many pages are devoted to the empowerment of women, or believing in yourself, or achieving goals in either your personal or work life, that do NOT refer to either your looks, body image or diet?
(For stats, divide (5) by (1) and multiply by 100)
When doing research, we also have to look outside and around the immediate topic of interest, in this case, several magazines. So I’ve done some of that work for you. Here are links to just four other articles that contribute to this topic.
L’Oreal airbrush ad banned
(Watch the Dove video to see exactly what airbrushing does)
Dove’s Video on Airbrushing/Photoshop
(Don’t believe anything you see in a magazine/on a billboard/on a bus stop)
Gender Roles in the Media
Whilst we all know about airbrushing, although the first couple of links do serve to REMIND us about it when we next open a glossy mag, this next video is, I found, actually uncomfortable to watch. It is very well put together and shows exactly the subliminal, subconscious messages that are being pushed by media about gender roles. There’s a content warning on it for a reason.
The Factory in the Living Room
This is a longer video from the Media Education Foundation. It’s extremely informative and well worth a look if you have time.
In our online self-help program for eating disorders, and in my Therapy Group for Eating Disorders here in Dublin, I recommend participants to simply stop buying magazines. Save the money you would spend on magazines instead, in a box or an envelope, and once a month, buy yourself something else instead – a nice lunch or dinner out with a friend, theatre or game tickets, a new purse or music album, etc. Or save it all up and put it towards your vacation, or a weekend away. Something that really feels good.
Magazines cost you Money. Emotional Energy. Self-Esteem.
Don’t buy into it any more. Say No to being sold insecurity.