The belief and conviction that physical fitness is important for a healthy mind and body has made both mental and physical fitness to be considered as very important aspects of women’s life. In the contemporary world, the need for women (and even men for that matter) to have the ideal body shape has led many women to take physical fitness activities seriously.
Women are now looking at ways through which they can feel and look great (Donatelle). One way through which women have been encouraged to stay fit is by being actively involved in activities that promote physical fitness. In order to ensure they stay fit, women have embarked on various ways to access any information that might enlighten them on the best fitness information available.
There are various possible sources of this type of information, but among the most popular and most accessible are fashion magazines which women usually buy and naturally enjoy reading, as these contain articles, advertisements and photos on diets, exercise, vitamin supplements, products and fashion.
These magazines contain a variety of information on different tips in ensuring that one remains physically fit. In addition, the magazines inform women on a wide range of fitness products for them to use. Unfortunately, physical fitness and appearance has become an obsession for women, a situation that has made them invest a lot of their time and resources to purchasing and reading fashion magazines.
The demand for new and different fashion magazines keep on increasing as women seek to gain more and know the latest trends in fitness as well as fashion information. Just like fashion which are created by designers, different diets and various forms of exercise are developed by doctors, nutritionists and fitness experts. As proven by the huge circulation of these fashion magazines, fitness and health experts and professionals consider magazines as one of the most effective ways of bringing information and products to the attention of its target customers. Some of the most popular and successful magazines that women consider the “bible” of beauty and fitness are Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle and GQ.
The success of their fitness information and programs depend on the circulation or reception they receive, some become short-lived fads (e.g. Beverly Hills Diet, The Zone Diet, Scarsdale Diet, etc.) while others, like the hugely popular South Beach Diet, gain a religious followers. Due to the effectiveness of magazines in bringing this information to its readers, women rely largely on them for fitness programs. However, fashion magazines have had both negative and positive impacts on women’s health. As unlikely as it may seem at first glance, one way through which fashion magazines have had a negative impact on women is by contributing to the development of bulimia.
The negative influence which leads women to develop bulimia is usually due to the misleading concept of beauty that the magazines inadvertently promote, as well as physical perfection as the ideal and only acceptable standard of beauty. The perception of beauty as being someone with a slim or thin body can be manipulated in the minds of women because fashion magazines constantly show models with thin or slim bodies which in effect build the perception that thinness is equal to beauty (Turner, Hamilton and Jacobs).
The perception of being overweight in the minds of women may not necessarily be accurate, but rather, an image brought about by comparing the models’ thin bodies with that of themselves. As a result, women who have less than perfect bodies, as well as those who have fine physiques are dissatisfied with the image that they see in the mirror. Accepting one’s self-image is essential in every person’s life, hence, a seriously dissatisfied image of one’s self is a deterrent to living a normal and happy life.
Instead of accepting one’s own body, women have become more self-conscious and unforgiving of their not-so-thin bodies which lead them to set an unrealistic goal of attaining “model-thin” physiques. Over time, the habit of many women to browse and read through fashion magazines constantly builds the ideal thin body image. Moreover, this increases the pressure for them to reach their ideal body weight, that is, their image of thin bodies found in abundance in the pages of fashion magazines.
This relentless “self-inflicted” pressure may convince them that drastic measures may be the key in attaining their goals. Realistically speaking, every person’s body weight and structure are influenced by many factors, like genetics, environment, health, lifestyle, etc. Although most women are aware that models in fashion magazines are genetically predisposed to be thin and that they live in an environment far different from “ordinary” women whose professions are not dependent on their looks, they are still influenced to take on the most often unrealistic goal to be model-thin to satisfy their self-image.
As a result, they resort to going on fad or crash diets, buy fitness equipment as well as diet pills or products, exercise excessively, and those who can afford even undergo aesthetic surgeries. Ironically, information on different exercises, fitness products and equipment, new diet programs, and even cosmetic surgeons and clinics can all be found in fashion magazines.