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.
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?