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?