Opinion Blog: The Sexualization of Women in Magazines

May 18, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Posted by Meg Jones
mpjones@mail.smu.edu

I live in a sorority house at Southern Methodist University with weekly and monthly subscriptions to Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Us Weekly, and Glamour.

My sorority sisters and I flip through the pages of women’s fashion and gossip magazines, but how many of us are taking a closer look at the message that magazines are sending to their readers?

Magazine content responds to popular demand and is a reflection of American culture, but it also contributes to it.

The pages of women’s fashion and gossip magazines perpetuate a hyper sexualized ideal standard of beauty for women.

Through these messages women are taught to believe that if they work hard enough and spend enough money they can attain this culturally determined, hegemonic vision of beauty.

With a constant influx of images of the sex goddess, fashion and beauty magazines contribute to the sexualization of women by permeating sexualized representations of women and girls, suggesting that being thin and beautiful is the cultural norm.

According to the report by the American Psychological Association task force on the sexualization of girls, sexualization occurs when a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics.This leads to sexual objectification—that is, made into a thing for other’s sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making.

Media images of female beauty not only influence how women feel about themselves, but also how men feel about women. There is a distorted reality in what men see in the media as opposed to the real women in their lives.

The high-dollar and never-ending consumerism needed to pursue the “Barbie body” is a mindset instilled in young girls that remains with them when they become women.

Advertising in magazines sells women products by selling them the idea that they can and should achieve physical perfection to have value in our culture.

More often than not, images in magazines have been altered. Computer retouching has become a primary technique used by advertisers and before photographs are published, they are digitally retouched to make the models appear perfect.

Although magazine content does not directly cause or effect body image problems, someone who is predisposed to the behavior may be pushed toward unhealthy diet and exercise routines by reading fashion and beauty magazines.

Global News Blog: Barbie is Looking for Love in Shanghai

April 30, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Posted by Ashlee Rivalto

Mattel recently opened the world’s first Barbie super store in Shanghai according to BBC. The store has six floors and includes a Barbie throne and photo booth, Barbie dress-up runway, manicurist, café, ice cream bar and over 875 Barbie dolls.

After devastating holiday sales and rough economic times the toy manufacturer started a worldwide campaign to increase sales. After researching cities all over the world, Shanghai was chosen as the new home for the Barbie Mega Store.

Mattel has recently cut 1,000 jobs and raised prices on spring toys in order to boost sales in 2010 according to a News Daily article. Overall toy sales in the United States fell 3 percent in 2008. Some say the recession is causing parents to spend less on toys but what about the child’s say in all this? Generation Z—children born between 1995 & 2010—is said to be a generation of consumers who have a strong hold on their parents’ wallets. Is this decline due to parents or to a child’s lack of interest in Barbie and other non-technological toys of the olden days?

The opening of the store in Shanghai marks the beginning of Barbie’s 50th birthday bash and some may say she has hit a mid-life crisis. Is Barbie becoming old news? According to a recent study in Australia conducted by child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, little girls between the ages of six and seven are already dumping their Barbies for “more sophisticated gadgets.” Carr-Gregg says there is an “up-aging” syndrome in Generation Z that is fueled by competitive parents pushing their child to be more mature, dress fashionable, and “discard play that did not appear to have an educational benefit.”

“Educational benefit” means new techno toys. The “edutainment” toy industry is one of the fastest growing segments in the overall toy industry caused by Generation Zs comfort with the digital world. Is this showing that children are moving away from the toys of the past and into the future of technology and increased brain power? Scary thought.

If you ask me, I am rooting for Barbie. But will this Barbie wonder world work wonders on Mattel’s financials? Only time can tell. As the number of Barbie fans continues to shrink, her best bet is making new friends. Mattel believes Shanghai is a good place to start since wealth is growing and Chinese consumers are looking to spend money on new experiences and products.

The company hopes to instill a love for Barbie in Chinese girls at a young age and create faithful Barbie consumers who will one day be richer than their parents once were. Mattel sees the Barbie store is an “investment in the future.”

But is this a smart investment? Should Barbie be looking for friends in China or should she make new friends with technology in order to win the hearts of young girls around the world?