Women and Weight: Gendered Messages on Magazine Covers1

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Abstract

In this content analysis, the covers of 21 popular women's and men's magazines were examined for gendered messages related to bodily appearance. Magazine covers were divided according to gender of readers and each cover was reviewed using a checklist designed to analyze visual images and text as well as the placement of each on the covers. Analyses showed that 78% of the covers of the women's magazines contained a message regarding bodily appearance, whereas none of the covers of the men's magazines did so. Twenty-five percent of the women's magazine covers contained conflicting messages regarding weightloss and dietary habits. In addition, the positioning of weight-related messages on the covers often implied that losing weight may lead to a better life. Men's magazines focus on providing entertainment and expanding knowledge, hobbies, and activities; women's magazines continue to focus on improving one's life by changing one's appearance.

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