The Politics of Women's Magazines: How Women's Magazines Set Standards of Femininity Open Access

Taub, Jillian Paige (2017)

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This thesis examines women's magazines, a cultural institution that prescribes femininity, using semiotics, feminist theory, and fashion theory. As a result of the hegemonic nature of the advertising industry, women's magazines set a standard of femininity that serves to reinforce women's insecurities in order for advertisers to preserve profit. Thus, advertising has a greater influence than editorial does on setting a definition of femininity for readers of women's magazines. A case study of the March and September 2016 issues of Seventeen, Vogue, and O, The Oprah Magazine shows the definition of femininity to be a thin, white, tall, and sexy woman. This definition, however, varies with the age of the magazine's readers. This narrow definition does not represent all women; in fact, this definition is unrealistic and unattainable for the majority of women. Advertisers have power to widen this definition of femininity by including a more diverse sample of models. Women readers can also educate themselves on the business of women's magazines to better understand how advertisers dictate the majority of women's magazines' content.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Illustrations...ii

I. Introduction...1

II. Historical Background...7

III. The Unethical Nature of Advertising: Advertising's Effect on Editorial...18

IV. Advertisements as Enforcers of Femininity...36

V. Fashion and Femininity.. .55

VI. Conclusion....70

Works Cited...77

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