With a long tube journey ahead of me, today I did something very unusual and picked up a celebrity gossip mag. The reason for me buying the magazine will be explained in another blog post, but for now I’d just like to share what I found on flicking through.
With a long history of poor body image myself, it’s a conscious decision of mine not to buy or read these catalogues of women-shaming. At best negative and at worst downright dangerous, I am disgusted by the ways these mostly written by-women-for-women publications promote self-loathing and a philosophy of ‘you’re only as good as the latest designer bag you own’. A case in point in the issue I just picked up is a columnist who, apparently in all seriousness, bemoans “I’m too thin, I’ve sacrificed my face for my thigh-gap”. I mean, really? Why are women journalists peddling this crap to other women?
Adverts for make-up every other page tell women to buy a product that “covers imperfections” – because, of course, anything less than perfect is failure. It means we haven’t tried hard enough, haven’t bought the right product.
They tell women that ageing is (impossibly and illogically) to be avoided at all costs. That to appear older is not natural but a personal defect.
And heaven forbid that you allow something as natural as leg hair growth to occur. Jeez, what are you, a gorilla? Nobody will ever think you’re attractive if there’s even a single hair on your perfectly toned and bronzed pins.
The adverts tell the women readers that they must eat special “low fat” versions of foods, presumably in an effort to look like the women that are strewn across every page.
The women that resemble prepubescent boys, with flat chests and a straight up and down figure. To look womanly, with breasts or hips is not the “in” look this season, so you should feel inadequate or, hey presto, change your body’s natural shape in order to conform to the current trend.
Don’t forget that once you’ve primped and preened your own body, you then need to cover it in a dress that costs multiples of the average woman’s monthly salary. No sweat. What, you can’t afford a £6,500 dress? Loser. Where did you go wrong in life?
If you ever do manage to snag a man (having managed to be a 100% perfect woman – well done you!) then make sure that he spends many thousands of pounds on a whopper of an engagement ring. After all, you’ve worked this hard to get him, you need to show off the fact. Show all the other women where they’re going wrong.
I find even a cursory flick through a magazine like this exhausting and emotionally draining. As intellectually aware of the negative impact looking at these kinds of images and reading this kind of copy can have, I cannot wholly distance myself emotionally. I am not immune, and still look at that flat stomach longingly. Then I shake my head, and eat a totally yummy piece of coffee cake.
Needless to say, it’ll be a while before I buy one of these poisonous publications again…