"Though many writer have pointed out that women's magazines reflect historical change, fewer examine how part of their job it to determine historical change as well. Editors do their jobs well by reading the zeitgeist; editors of women's magazines-and increasingly, mainstream media as well - must be alert to what social roles are demanded of women to serve the interests of those who sponsor their publication. Women's magazines for over a century have been the most powerful agents for changing women's roles, and through out that time - today more than ever- they have consistently glamorized whatever the economy, their advertisers, and during wartime, the government, need at that moment from women." Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth
I've spent years buying magazines, interning at magazines and stacking excess magazines in "decorative" piles in my room but I spend little time looking at them critically. I think when I look at magazines, even fashion magazines, I don't look at the impact they might be having other than images that might be misogynistic or feature too thin models but I think the above quote encompasses a lot of the ideas I'd like to explore in my final project.
I'd like to look at major women's magazines and the messages they are try to get across. Instead of looking at the advertising, I'd like to focus on the cover stars, the cover stories as well as some of the other factors that may be affecting women's magazines such as going digital and maintaining readership. Magazines are often trying to sell you an image or a lifestyle, so what lifestyle are today's women's magazines trying to sell? I think the best way to do this is of course research the current most popular women's magazines and the creative and business aspects of the magazines, for example Cosmopolitan recently hired a new editor in chief and editorial staff, how has the magazine changed "under new management"? I'd like to present a brief slideshow or video and maybe an accompanying magazine briefly chronicling the major changes in women's magazines over the past couple of decades.
Print Magazine: Outline
Table of Contents
Letter to the editor - Intro to the project, magazines that will be featured, project purpose
Magazine history/statistics - a brief overview of the history of the magazines I have chosen, including controversies, editorial staff, historical moments,
"Mixed Messages" - Cover headlines from magazines, Cover star statistics
Fashion/Beauty/Health - Body image, health, dieting - What type of body image are magazines promoting? Are they promoting diets for health or vanity?
Can women's magazine's be taken seriously? - A look at the range of serious content in women's magazines
The Alternatives - Web and print alternatives to mainstream magazines