By: Jenna I.
If you stand in line at any grocery store, magazines are usually at the forefront of every till, and in a lot of cases, the magazine features shame of a woman’s or man’s body on the front cover. Gossip magazines such as People, InTouch, and Star have been using the tactic of body shaming male and female celebrities for years to sell magazines and appeal to a more vulnerable audience, but the issue that has caused has finally reached the general public within these past few years, as body acceptance is becoming more common in media outlets nowadays and some magazines have changed their old ways because of the controversy. Nevertheless, major global magazine publishers are still featuring body shaming in their magazines, causing confidence issues in some members of the public, and if the issues continue, it can lead to other potentially dangerous habits for people’s health and well-being.
Body shaming in magazines can be anything from insulting a celebrity for fast weight gain or loss on the front cover to offering quick and easy ways to lose weight somewhere in the magazine. For decades, popular gossip magazines have been preaching slim body types for every gender, causing problems in terms of confidence and body dysmorphia among the public. Magazines don’t just pull easily influenced people in using buzz words and front-page photos of celebrities, they can also tend to appeal to an audience via judgement of the individual they are criticizing; if the consumer has a similar body type to the criticed celebrity on the front page, they must look further to see their “Tips to get Bikini Body Ready,” right?
Researcher Jean Lamont, Ph.D., has been researching the effects body shaming has on young women. Before the study, she came up with a theory that women who had higher body confidence issues felt shame in natural things of their life, such as menstruation, sweating, and eating, meaning that they had a higher probability of general sickness and a lower quality of health. Afterwards, she surveyed 300 women, and her theory was generally correct, stating that women that had the highest body shame had a lower quality of health, along with more infections and more symptoms of illness such as frequent headaches. After the survey concluded, Lamont determined that body shame in general was the cause of low health among women with lower confidence. A separate study in Britain also conducted that body shame influences in media or in people’s personal lives don’t typically help people lose weight, it’s actually the opposite; a woman who felt shamed for her body typically gained three and a half pounds more than someone who wasn’t shamed, showing a problem in the media.
There is still hope for the major publishers to stop this trend though, as Women’s Health magazine has already pulled any subjects referring body shaming from any of their magazines moving forward, supporting the body acceptance motion. “We wanted to make sure we were staying modern and check ourselves,” states the Editor and Chief of Women’s Health, Amy Keller Laird, “It’s not only about, ‘I have to be a certain size.’ We really want to promote health and wellness, not anxiety and issues.” Laird also says that they want to feature more ‘athletic’ body types in their magazines to show body diversity, along with launching a podcast to discuss social issues that affect women’s health, including body image as a major category.
Body image in the visual media is still a large problem, especially in the younger generations, but with the surveys that are coming forward with new information against the cause of body shaming and with larger magazines changing their ways, there is a large possibility that body shaming can be coming to a halt pretty soon, helping people of the general public accept the beauty that was given to them.