Beauty · Feminism · Happiness · Health

What Men Want – International Edition

I was looking at a website recently which makes magazines available for download, issues from far flung lands that you wouldn’t be able to buy on British shelves and a certain percentage of those magazines are what you’d call ‘Lad’s Mags’. Whilst I’m in full support of the ‘No More Page 3‘ campaign, as I feel that bare boobs have no place in a mainstream newspaper, my feeling is that there’s a time and a place for topless modelling and a magazine aimed at 16-35 year old men is definitely it.

But I digress.

As I was scrolling through the pages of the website, I noticed that there was a distinct difference in what is considered ‘beautiful’ in different parts of the world. It got me thinking about how perceptions change when you factor in cultural influence and how it affects people’s attitudes, especially towards women. I also wonder if culture has more to do with it in the respect of what passes for common decency and what people will display on their shelves.


What do you see when you look at these covers? BOOOOOBS!

There’s clearly a trend in the UK at the moment for large breasts, full, pouty lips, a shit-load of make-up and long locks cascading over shoulders. Meh, what’s new? But what I do find alarming (and call me a hairy-armpitted feminist if you like) is the fact that the woman on the cover of the Summer Special doesn’t even have a face. The message that sends to me is “It doesn’t matter what her face is like, as long as she has tits like over-inflated zeppelins”. In fact, it’s not even that it doesn’t matter if she has a face, it’s that she patently doesn’t NEED one (although they do let you see just enough to ascertain that she has massive lips).


Here, we see something completely different. Both women are more demurely covered and clearly have natural breasts and lips. They both look like normal-sized women and are wearing fairly minimalist make-up. The woman in the orange exudes strength and is wearing shorts rather than skimpy knickers, while the woman in white looks rather more innocent.

Far East 

The covers in this section come from Japan and the Philippines and show something else altogether. I ummed and ahhed about including Esquire as it’s a slightly different class of magazine, but it still features a woman on the front who’s an example of desirability. The FHM cover is not wholly dissimilar to an FHM cover that you’d see in the UK, except it features Asian woman. Now, (and excuse the sweeping generalisation here) Asian woman often have a smaller frame than us Western gals and in turn have smaller breasts, so it’s interesting to see that none of the women here appear to have breast augmentations, or if they do they’re extremely subtle and certainly not out of keeping with their actual frames.

Last year, The Guardian reported that in 2011, over 10,000 women went under the knife in the UK to have breast implants, and although Japan ranked 6th in the world for cosmetic proceedures, most of them are liposuction or non-surgical proceedures. It’s also worth noting that British women have the largest breasts in Europe a well as the highest obesity rate.

There seems to be an element of dehumanisation with the UK covers – the women have been chopped and augmented to fit a certain ideal and they’re held up as faceless objects, rather than people to be admired. Both magazines fixate on breasts, or breast size more accurately, leaving little wonder as to why so many young girls feel the need to have implants. If this is what they see on our shelves, touting itself as an authority on what young men find attractive, what chance to us girls have?

The Indian and Far Eastern covers aren’t afraid to show women as they are (although there’s obviously the obligatory airbrushing) and whilst I’m not saying that either place is without it’s issues when it comes to the treatment of women, I do wonder how much damage this obsession with ‘unnatural’ beauty is doing to us as a nation?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. What do you see when you look at these photos?

5 thoughts on “What Men Want – International Edition

  1. I’m all for topless modelling and flaunting your bits (shocker, no?!) but that faceless image is a bit…wrong, at least in my opinion. I much prefer the Indian magazines, I think the women are far more attractive.

  2. Yeah. That’s a valid point in my view. British women have the biggest bra sizes in Europe, so it stands to reason that the front cover of the ‘porn for cowards’ mags in this country feel like they have to feature ladies with large breasts.

    That said, I don’t like the objectifying thing. I never used to be as conscious of it (typically) but now I’m having a hand in raising a daughter I notice it everywhere. Like that ‘Nuts’ up there / where the lass has her head cut off – it’s a bit strong. They don’t seem to want people to think about the fact that she’s a person, they just want them to focus on the ‘thrups and crotch.

    Maybe there’s some sort of brotastic science to it, like bugs to one of those glowing bug-zappers. “Mmm boobies…”,”That’ll be £5 please” “Doh!”.

    1. I love ‘brotastic’! You make another good point about environment – the women on the Japanese magazine are dark haired and slight because that’s what Japanese men see most often and find attractive, so it stands to reason that English men would like buxom birds most. A simple case of supply and demand?

  3. It’s a very broad topic of conversation. I’m not going to pretend I don’t like what’s on the cover of the English mags (Lucy Pinder is absolutely beautiful (and naturally boobied)) however I think they are being “sexed” up a lot more than they need to be these days because of what’s available to their target audience. When I was a teen many moons ago if you wanted to see naked boobs it was either page 3 or the daily sport or you had to sit on your computer and wait at least 20 minutes for the dial up to connect to whatever site you were trying to look at. Now the majority of the kids have free and easy access at the push of a mobile phone button. The magazines have to be a little more blatant in what they’re showing to keep their demographic interested. That could be a separate argument though. In different areas of the world tastes are different and they might be more suitably dressed but what is considered beautiful still affects women and they go to crazy lengths to achieve the look.
    In India, the girls considered most beautiful/desirable are those with the lightest skin and I remember the wife telling me about all sorts of bonkers procedures that these women go through to get that. You look at Bollywood actresses and the majority will be light skinned and most of the time western girls of Indian heritage because they have that look.
    In the Far East/Asia you are ruled out if you are not tiny (hence the surgical procedures being mainly lipo). I went to uni with an Asian girl who was barely a size 8 but when she went to China to see family she had to buy clothes in an XL. Girls are starving themselves to be so petite AND let’s not forget the weird schoolgirl fantasy that they love over that side of the world!
    That’s my view anyway, I might have got the wrong end of the stick with what you were trying to say so sorry if I have but it boils down to the fact that whatever part of the world you are in you have to conform to the tastes of the consumer and these girls will always succumb because they want to be famous and adored. If any of those girls on the covers of the foreign magazines were over here and given the chance to be a cover model for one of those mags they’d be under the surgeon’s knife before you could say Katie Price!
    Mans point of view done.

    1. No, you don’t have the wrong end of the stick at all, you make some really interesting and completely valid points, which kind of back up what I was saying and in a way point out my own shortsightedness, too.

      Because there are different ‘ideals’ in different countries, of course the measures they take to achieve them will also be different, I hadn’t thought of it that way. Tony and I watched a series of documentaries once about Muslim women in different countries and most of them, despite being completely covered by their hijab, go to great lengths to keep themselves groomed, with things like threading, which is taking off over here now too.

      I also agree with you about the magazines, why would men buy them when they can see a LOT more for a lot less without having to walk to the corner shop to buy it? I know that the rise of the internet has caused a decline in the uptake of print media, but I never realised the impact was that deep and far reaching.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and give your opinion, it’s really made me look at things in a new light!

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