Running thru minds of women browsing fashion mags: a poll for het females

I was riding home on the subway yesterday and the woman who sat next to me was flipping through a fashion magazine. Dunno which one, looked younger and more flamboyant than Cosmopolitan.

From where I sat, the pages were visible and I was reminded again of my own take on women’s fashion mags:

Damn, the way they’ve got that hot model posed, with garments chosen and arrayed like so, is more sexually provocative than the smutty mags marketed to men.

Now, being an educated socio geek who came of age late 70s / early 80s, I’m also familiar with the take on same by many feminists:

They are a combo of Airhead Digest and Inadequacies-R-Us, promoting women’s insecurities and getting them to worry about Getting and Holding their Man, preferably by focusing on the products they need to obtain to fix or mask their physical deficits while gilding and displaying their assets as sex objects.

But I’m also an open-eared and somewhat open-minded denizen of the more complicated social world of the early 21st century, and I’ve read testimonials by many women to the positive nature of many things (especially pertinent to sexuality) that many feminists originally thumbtacked-up on the awareness bulletin-board as “under suspicion of being oppressive to women”, so I thought I’d ask for some feedbacks. I’ve asked to hear from hetero women in the thread title. With more space for elaboration down here, I’ll add that feedback from lesbian women would be welcome too, but for hopefully obvious reasons it’s rather relevant to know which (or where on the continuum, etc) –

So… which of the following comes closest to what runs through your mind when you’re browsing through such a fashion magazine and looking at the pictures of the models in the clothes they’re displaying?

• Oh, look, apparel! That looks comfortable and attractive and based on the similarities in size between me and the model, it will look good in my size. Who makes it, let’s see…

• Wow, does she look hot! It is so cool being a woman and being able to have looks like that. Look at her, you know just how she feels being so attractive, I know that feeling. We chicks rock. Go us! It’s so good to women looking to dynamite and identifying with that!

• God, I could look like that, probably, maybe lose an inch in the tummy. I could wear that and look like her. Well, maybe not quite as tall. Her skin’s better, too. I should really exfoliate more often. But I have a better nose. Ehh, I don’t know if that style’s quite for me, but maybe, who makes it, let’s see…

• Oh, hello Ms. Photoshop, I believe I remember your Mom, Ms. Airbrush, gee you’re looking impossible and ridiculous today. Oh, why the scowl, did the camera flash give you a headache? Like I’m supposed to run out and buy this overpriced costume now? As if!

• Wow, does she look hot! If I were dressed like that and posed like that and guys could see me, heck if anybody could see me, I’d be blushing my face off. That’s quite some outfit to be (ob)seen in!

• Another magazine, another page…this is how I’m supposed to look if I’m doing it correctly, I guess. I don’t get it. What makes this “hot” and me “not”, assuming I am indeed “not”? Is it the clothes? Let’s see…yeah, I’ve got some outfits similar in some ways…is it how she’s posing? ::imagines holding body in the photographed position, unconsciously mimics the facial expression:: Is that “hot”?

•Whoa, why is this fashion magazine presenting women for me to look at as if they were sexual favors for me to sample? I’m used to seeing women presented that way when there’s a male audience, but isn’t this supposed to be a women’s periodical?

• ____________ (yeah, obviously you can add your own in your own words)
Follow-up question: what runs through your mind if you find a guy paging through the same magazine and looking at the same pix? How is it different and how is it similar to what you’d be thinking if you found the same guy paging through Girlie Magazines more explicitly designed as eye-candy for the male gaze?

“Ads, ads flip BWAHAHAHA!!! yeah like anyone would be caught dead in that…oh that’s great wear for the lab…and that would go wonderfully with my shoes (green converse all stars)…hey, that’s a cute shade of eyeshadow…maybe I should start wearing make up again… gossip, gossip…that looks like it could be a not crappy movie…gossip, ads…My most Embarrassing moments, or how I am an unethical slut…god I wish they still let me bring in homework…”

I only read Cosmo, et al at the crap retail position I held a while back. (I can’t say I miss it.) When I was hired I specifically asked if I would be allowed to do homework at the counter, and was told yes. When the cool (but sticky fingered) boss left and teh new one came I asked again, and was told policy remained the same. Then after I brought in Plato’s Republic and my Diff Eq homework he got uptight about it and said no more homework, then no more outside reading material. Yes, reading cosmo was okay, reading Plato was not.

I didn’t make the rules.

I read fashion magazines because I enjoy looking at fashion. Hell, the ads are what I buy the magazine for. Granted, I’m not going to go out and buy the oufits modeled in Vogue or W, but I love the glossy pages of beautiful women in beautiful apparel.

I don’t feel the need to emulate the models, and they don’t make me feel badly about myself at all. The idea is to see what is on the runways, because they preview what’s to come in fashion. Of course, we aren’t going to actually wear our hair in spikes or a stripe of pink eyeshadow across our face–that’s not what they’re suggesting. Those wild looks are just a way to creatively express the look. It’s as much art as anything.

I don’t care for Cosmo and Glamour and that drivel. I’m not interested in their “tips and tricks.” However, I do buy Allure for the makeup and hair suggestions, and I buy Marie Claire because they actually have good articles about “real” women in all areas of the world.

I suppose this one comes closest. Actually, Cosmo and its ilk really leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. If I do happen to pick one up in a waiting room or something, I’m looking at it thinking more along the lines of, “Do I live on the same planet as these people? Are there actually women who think in this (to me) completely foreign and idiotic manner? This is an interesting ad; I bet it’s effective because of such and such. It’s fascinating how according to this magazine, the solution to every problem is to buy something.” In other words, I mostly look at it with the intention of dissecting it as a social phenomenon or something.

This is one of my feelings to a-tee.

I hate those fashion mags with their rail thin supermodels in overpriced skimpy clothes Eat something, would ya… you look hungry

“Here read me and feel bad about yourself” they shout from the mag rack at the market.

Find out: why you can’t keep a man/how to get a date/new hot sex tips that only masters of flexibility can do/flirt with coworkers/ have sex in your office etc etc etc…

The only time I “read” these wastes of paper is when I am at the salon waiting for my hair stylist. Sometimes I think I should start bringing my issues of Road and Track or Scientific American. Hell even Penthouse has better articles than these fashion mags, That would get some intereting looks at the salon :smiley: . Yes, I read Penthouse, I got the subscription for my husband for Christmas last year.

I don’t usually read fashion mags such as Cosmo or Glamour, but when I do, I think, “Hello, Photoshop,” too. I do read Shape and Fitness, which are basically fashion magazines disguised as fitness magazines because they include tips on healthy living and have models in sporty clothes rather than sexy ones. When I read those, I usually think “Hello PhotoShop…Hey! That’s a great looking exercise for working out my triceps.” Or, “Gee, are these women scrawny enough? Oh, hey, they’ve got a recipe in here for a healthier version of mac n’ cheese! Cool!”

Shape & Fitness do have some good articles on occasion, but they’re basically Cosmo in workout clothes without all the information on “How to Pleasure Your Man” or some such.

I read Cosmo, Glamour (which used to be more about working, independent women but now is almost identical to Cosmo), Vogue, and Elle. As a 35 year-old, hetero woman, when I see the ads, I do not compare myself to the models. I don’t start big debates in my head about feminism, sexuality, or the practicality of the fashion in the real world. As a woman, you do need to be “in the know” when it comes to what clothes are in/out, what colors are big in makeup this season, etc. Well, I guess you don’t NEED to be, but I for one don’t want to be wearing satin cargo pants when everyone else in the world KNOWS they’re passe. Fashion mags aren’t the lens through which I filter the world or my opinion on myself. They aren’t, and aren’t meant to be, taken that seriously, I don’t think. When I see the over-the-top ads displaying sexuality, etc., I’m more amused than anything else. While I know that I’m not likely to be seeing that look in downtown Tucson, I do imagine that in the bigger cities people are actually dressing somewhat like that, at parties and such.
If I saw a man looking at these ads, I would tend to think it’s for visual gratification. Airbrushed, photo-shopped, whatever, these women are beautiful with perfect bodies- of course men will look at them! It doesn’t bother me, the way a man sitting next to me on the bus looking at Playboy would.

I’m within 8-10 lbs. of being able to fit in anything that’s in the magazines, but I’m about 20-25 years past it being cool to do so. So mostly, I look with envy at all the cute stuff that the young girls can wear.

I can see where someone could get carried away and start getting a warped view of themselves and what’s important in the world, but that was never my problem.

And then there’s the money thing. I like to see how close the rip-offs come to the real thing. I love that “Sensible Chic” decorating show, where they take a $50K room and recreate it for $3K. I like doing that with clothes (more in my mind than anything else, because as I said, I’m a bit long in the tooth to be doing everything the girly-girls can do). It’s a challenge to see how close you can come to getting the look without getting the overdraft notice at the same time!!

And yes, I agree…the bitchy face thing has been done to death. Can we have a few smiling California girls again? Just a few? The heroin chic thing has had a good run, but…enough already.

To use one of your answers, which pretty much expresses what I’m thinking when I read those magazines:

  • “God, I could look like that, probably, maybe lose an inch in the tummy. I could wear that and look like her. Well, maybe not quite as tall. Her skin’s better, too. I should really exfoliate more often. But I have a better nose. Ehh, I don’t know if that style’s quite for me, but maybe, who makes it, let’s see…”

Hey, it is what it is. I make no bones about being a slavish follower of fashion!!

I read Glamour and enjoy it as mostly fluff. I have no problem admitting that. I skim through it, use the make-up and fashion tips that I think are realistic (realistic being the key word here) and ignore whatever I think is crap. As far as the ads go, I don’t know that I even pay that much attention to them. Usually when they catch my eye it’s because I think the clothes are cute OR it’s just some crazy ad that is totally worthy of mockery owing to the outlandish clothing and/or really stupid looking hair and make-up, in which case I call my sister over and we mock together.

As far as men reading those mags, I’d assume they were checking out the nearly naked models.

The “Hello Photoshop” is the closest to my response. I also have a feeling of slight depression. Not because I feel inadequate, but because I lament that these sort of shallow magazines actually make money. Depressing.

I mostly read these magazines at the gym. When I’m sweating on the stairclimber, I don’t want anything deep or meaningful. I’m not a fashionista or a knock-out, but I’m secure enough that they don’t make me feel bad about myself.

I have a vague interest in knowing what’s currently fashionable. I don’t follow fashion closely, but I’ll be shopping for summer clothes soon and it’s good to get some ideas. If I don’t like the fashion advice, I don’t follow it. Simple as that.

That would be me in the above post. Left Hand of Dorkness, a het male, doesn’t read Cosmo et al; nor, as far as I’ve ever been able to tell, does he give a rat’s ass about women’s fashions.

Sure, such magazines are silly fluff, but where is it written that we have to read Tolstoy and Kafka all the time?

Cosmo is pretty bad about putting what could have been attractive women in fashion clown clothes and make-up, then having them prowl around some scene as though they’re channeling PMS from every woman in North America.

I’ve noticed that when looking at such magazines, I start off not even noticing the silliness, then snorting in a superior manner. All sorts of issues start flying; from the mysogeny inherent in some, to just what is being expressed by having the models all look like they could use a good bath. I worry about what it will mean for young girls and boys if they grow up with such unreasonable expectations, etc.

Then I’ll spy something I like, but could never wear and couldn’t afford even if I could wedge myself into it. I beat myself up for not being perfect (because only then I’d be happy), then beat myself up for thinking I need to be perfect (perfect is impossible and doesn’t mean happiness). Then I put down the magazine because I’ve just remembered why I’ve been so much happier since I cancelled my subscription to Cosmo.

I think it depends on the magazine for me. Something like Vogue, I might look at the ads of the runway model wearing a refashioned motorcycle complete with rear-view mirrors, and just not get it. I can see it being art, nothing wrong with it IMHO, it’s the message I usually miss, unless it’s just art for art’s sake. Other magazines, like Elle, I might look at the ads and see an outfit that I could wear, but don’t look it up in the back to see who manufactures it. Like Kalhoun, if it’s something I like, I’d find a cheaper alternative. As far as articles, it’s hit and miss, usually more misses than hits. I find the articles about health and fitness most appealing, or geared toward women’s health TMI stuff the subject of most hits.

As far as a guy paging through the magazine, I doubt I’d make an assumption one way or the other. If it wasn’t something I’d seen the guy in question interested in before, I’d probably ask him what he thought about the magazine. So what runs through my mind would be curiousity at what was running through his mind, I suppose.

Comes closest for me, minus the part about the homework.
I rarely read these things, and I don’t care a whole lot about “fashion.” Most of those clothes look horribly uncomfortable, as well as unflattering to almost anybody without a fashion model’s figure. With exceptions for special occasions, the most important thing to me is that clothing should be comfortable, and as flattering to me as is reasonable.

I care a lot about fashion and I love shopping for clothes, so I read a lot of fashion mags. Indygrrl said it best: I love looking at beautiful women and beautiful clothes. I’m not thinking about oppression of women, I’m not thinking about how to keep a man, I’m thinking about clothes, shoes, make-up and hair.

I love to read the articles in Cosmo, but I also read Car & Driver and Popular Science. Depends on what I’m in the mood for.

First, I only read them when stuck in a waiting room someplace.
So the internal conversation tends to go:
OK, Dr Suess books, or Glamour?? Darn, I really don’t like “One Fish, Two Fish” and they don’t have “Horton hears a Who”, so Glamour it is.
Darn, who the heck would wear 3 inch platform shoes in a yellow and green plaid? (flip)
What was that designer smoking? That entire line of cloths looks like it was cut out of black plastic garbage bags, and then decorated by a kindergarden class with glitter and white glue. (flip)
I don’t want to know, I don’t want to know (flip page rapidly)
I wonder how many polls they can do in 1 year on “the sexiest food is…” (flip)
Do I really believe that Mr Tastes wants me to show up at the door in just plastic wrap and an apron? Hmmm, well, maybe he does… (flip)
Look, same shoes as page one, but in red polka dots instead of plaid.

Another thing that bothers me about the “bitchy face” is that they put it in freakin’ wedding magazines! It’s considered haute couture, I suppose. But the brides in those magazines look like they’re really pissed off they’re getting married or like they’re in the process of being drawn on the rack. What’s up with that?