Media still has a big influence on how women view themselves. Ask any woman around you if they, at one point in their lives, longed so much to be like a woman they saw in a fashion magazine, and you can be sure that they will most probably answer in the affirmative. The definition of women in most magazines was the same: skinny, light skinned, silky long hair, flawless skin, perky breasts and not a single stretch mark on the body. The more people saw this, it became ingrained in their minds that there was no other form of beauty. It is now time to retell a different story. Feminist magazines must make deliberate efforts to change how women and beauty is portrayed.
Changing the Narrative
- Bring in Variety: Women come in different shapes, colours, ages, likes and dislikes. This should be reflected in magazines. It is time for plus sized women, women of colour, those who are aging, mothers, pregnant women and everything in between to show up in magazine stories and photo shoots. It should be a deliberate effort where the editors and content managers ensure there is a real representation of beauty and not what women were brought up to believe was the only show of beauty.
- Amplify different voices: when you flip through some of the popular magazines, you will also notice that it is the women who fit into the stereotypical definition of beauty who also get bigger spaces to share their stories. That is why voices of the oppressed and rarely become stories. They are regarded as ‘not beautiful enough’ to get a voice. Feminist magazines should turn things around and feature oppressed voices that make other women feel safe enough to speak up.
- Critique the stereotypes: In order to bring in a change of mindset, feminist magazines must also be vocal to critique other media platforms that still maintain the stereotypical standards of beauty. Articles should be written to complain when there seems to be an obsession to portray a particular look as the only definition and representation of beauty.