SF Talking Points: Magazines That Lower Our Self-Esteem, Florida's War On Women

Why People Keep Reading Magazines That Make Them Feel Bad About Themselves: A new study has shown that people aren’t necessarily just plain masochists because they’re drawn to beauty and fitness magazines with thinner/more muscular models on the cover. Indeed, in the experiment conducted by Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, associate professor of communication at Ohio State University, participants would only dwell on pictures of fit models if the content beside the pictures was comprised of tips on how to improve their own bodies. So not only do magazines pop our already pretty flaccid self-esteem balloons without remorse, they sneakily add insult to injury by suggesting that they hold, somewhere within their hundreds of glossy pages, the secrets to attaining that Hollywood bod on the cover — in 5 easy steps! When really, it’s impossible, because not only do they not know who they are promising “sexy sculpted legs in 10 minutes” to, the ideal body on the cover was photoshopped.

Speaking Of Photoshop, First Unretouched Makeup Ad Released: Make Up For Ever put together an ad with a super thin, pretty, blonde and unblemished model without taking the final step of perfecting perfection with Photoshop. They just used professional lighting, professional makeup artists, professional everything, and had an impossibly flawless-looking girl wear the makeup. Hooray? I hate to be skeptical of progress, even if the baby steps made were terribly small. And I suppose we can’t expect them to pull an average lady off the street and tell her to do her makeup herself with Make Up For Ever and then take a picture of it  (which would actually probably convince me to buy the product, though I don’t know about anyone else). But the “progress” we are getting doesn’t really feel like progress at all. As Jos over at Feministing writes, “In fact, pointing out the ad wasn’t retouched serves to make this unattainable idea of beauty seem more real.” And it seems more like a gimmick than something that Make Up For Ever is actually behind.

Florida’s Recent Anti-Woman Offenses: Republicans in the Sunshine State are trying to pass a record 18 bills that attack abortion rights — including, but not limited to, a requirement for women to have an ultrasound, that they must pay for themselves, before getting an abortion. Another bill proposes getting rid of federal funding for abortions except in cases that threaten the mother’s life. Tough luck for victims of incest or rape.

Also in Florida, a mailer was sent out reviling mayoral candidate Rose Ferlita for being “Unmarried. Unsure. Unelectable,” and describing her as “an unmarried woman with a suspect commitment to family values,” while her opponent is a “dedicated family man with two children.” Since when do spouses and children have anything to do with one’s abilities as a politician?! Julie at BUST sums it up: “The simple misogynistic logic being: woman with career goals = unmarried ballbreaker = lesbian = unfit for office.” I mean, who knows if Ferlita even is a lesbian? Maybe she just didn’t want to get married! (And if she is, I’d like to point to female, lesbian Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir who is doing a pretty damn good job over there — much better than many of the “family men” around the world.) Strangely, Ferlita is a Republican candidate and the organization that sent out the mailer has been linked to Democratic candidate Scott Maddox; it seems that Democrats were trying to reach Republicans on their level by using the rhetoric they usually use against Democratic candidates. In other news, politics suck.


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Author: Maura Hehir

Maura Hehir is a writer and student studying creative nonfiction writing at New York University. She volunteer-teaches a creative writing class to kids in Harlem and works in the marketing and design department at a bookstore.

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