Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Mixed messages

Spotted this ad in an NZ Women's Weekly (I think, one of those mags) on the weekend.

So on the one hand NZ Women's Health says it's good to be you, but on the other hand NZ Women's Health will help you get your fittest body (presumably not the body you have now). The "Get-Back-In-Shape" issue pre-supposes that there's something wrong with the shape you're in now. I guess the 'Secret Weight Loss Weapons' will help with that?

Don't even start me on the rather unrealistic cover shot.

The message I'm getting? Changing your body by plastic surgery or botox is bad, but changing your body by diet and exercise is good. And yes, you do need to change your body.

17 comments:

stargazer said...

i think i posted on exactly this type of thing from exactly this magazine a few months back, and i so totally agree with you.

it's like the dove campaign about "real beauty". on the one hand it challenges current practices in the advertising industry and their focus on a narrow definition of beauty: on the other hand it's about selling beauty products without which you cannot apparently be beautiful. and they have the extra degree of irony, in that the parent company unilever uses exactly the kinds of campaigns the dove ads challenge for their other beauty products.

but as for this women's health magazine, if they're really about health and not appearance then how about they have cover models of women that are unphotoshopped and not perfect bodies. or be really radical and do a cover with no woman on the cover at all. they could do something attractive with food; or have sports equipment etc.

Julie said...

Sorry Anjum, you totally did! I knew I had read something somewhere in the past but couldn't remember where.

The photoshopping of images really bothers me. It's nothing short of false advertising.

The company that owns Dove also owns Axe (sometimes known as Lynx) which has run some pretty offensive to women campaigns for their men's deoderant in the past (although much worse overseas than their campaigns within NZ I think).

The Paradoxical Cat said...

Yep, women's magazines have their cake and eat it too.

Real message: "It's not OK to be you."

I despise the ones that push gourmet food and wine but their illustrations are of people too thin to ever even sample such a lifestyle.

hungrymama said...

But everyone knows "healthy" is a synonym for "young, thin and completely devoid of body hair".

Alison said...

But everyone knows "healthy" is a synonym for "young, thin and completely devoid of body hair".

Well duh! There's a VERY strong correlation between having body hair and dying.

Conclusion; having hair on your body will kill you.

Emma said...

To be fair (though I'm not sure why I feel that compulsion) the male version of this magazine is just as bad. The male bodies on the covers are sometimes painfully obviously photoshopped and unrealistic. The message is the same: you must work out lots and take the right dietary supplements and all that crap in order to have a body that's attractive (I think to the opposite sex, but I wouldn't swear to it).

Julie said...

So basically, these magazines are advertising vehicles, and "You're ok the way you are" doesn't sell much advertising space? That's kind of sad. But also, I suspect, true.

barvasfiend said...

does that really really say; 'no wonder you haven't had a date in a while?'

Who are these marketing geniuses? Don't they know you have to insidiously undermine women's confidence in their appearance under the guise of their best interests? The key word here is subtle...

Back to school for them!

Brett Dale said...

Nothing wrong with exercise and a decent diet, we all should do this to stay healthy.

Julie said...

Yeah it does barvasfiend. You can click on the image to get a larger picture if anyone can't read the teeny tiny writing on the cover of the mag itself. I had to post it then look at it then rewrite the post a little as a result because I couldn't read all the writing before I posted it.

Brett, I write this with love, please don't ever change. Your inability to grasp the point is endlessly amusing.

Danyl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danyl said...

The message I'm getting? Changing your body by plastic surgery or botox is bad, but changing your body by diet and exercise is good. And yes, you do need to change your body.

This ad perpetuates fascist, patriarchal stereotypes about how to avoid diabetes and heart disease.

Anna said...

Danyl (and I'm assuming you're being facetious)

Have you considered that beauty and health aren't necessarily the same thing? And that by suggesting that you have to be beautiful to be healthy may actually do damage?

For example, women can be put off going to gym by the expectation that it will be full of beautiful, perfect people. They don't feel there's a place there for wobbly thighs and stretch marks, thanks to images like the one we're discussing. And most women, if they wanted to look like the woman on that mag, would have to resort to unhealthy measures like diet pills.

If you're really concerned about women avoiding diabetes and heart disease, you'd want healthy lifestyles to be accessible to all women - not just those who look fantastic in a swimsuit.

Julie said...

I rather suspect Danyl is trying to be satirical, seeing as how that's his gig (and he's often very good at it).

When I went to a kick-boxing class with a friend the instructor immediately assumed, based on our bodies, that I was the fittest, because I was the thinnest. After a short warm-up it was pretty clear that no body fat also meant no muscles and no aerobic fitness, and my friend who was probably five or six sizes bigger than me was considerably less at risk of heart disease because she was actually healthy.

Anna said...

Me likewise - I was at my skinniest when I smoked like a train, which had the effect of suppressing my weight. I'm now a good 10kg heavier, and I can actually walk up a flight of stairs without expiring.

Hugh said...

I'm now a good 10kg heavier, and I can actually walk up a flight of stairs without expiring.

Did you mean to type 'perspiring'? Or was it really that bad?

Brett Dale said...

Yeah I get the point, I guess different people see things differently.