Just A Couple Of Women Sitting On Stairs Breaking Down Everything That’s Wrong With The Media

I’ve had plenty of body issues over the course of my lifetime. But as a dude, I haven’t been subjected to a fraction of the trash in this video. Seriously, ladies, how do you deal with it?

I would love to take a stand and stop buying these magazines. But to be honest, I never bought many of them to begin with. That being said, I’m going to double-down and buy even less of them. (If anyone knows how to purchase a negative amount of magazines, please let me know.)

And just wait till you get to the example of how they go after young girls. It's an A+ on the cringe-worthy scale.

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Woman 1: We were always readers of women's magazines from quite a young age. So we'd sort of grown up with them and felt that they'd really, quite deeply, affected our self-image and the way that we perceived ourselves.

Woman 2: "Bum-ology. What does your bum reveal about you."

Woman 1: So even though the blogs started out as a sort of fun-poking at the sort of ridiculousness of women's magazines

Woman 2: "The pear shaped bum."

Speaker 3: "They'll be a good friend until you step on their toes."

Woman 1: Underneath, there's quite a serious message, which is about you're taught that all your self-worth is in the way that your body looks. And not in who you are or what your interests are, or your ambitions.

Woman 2: So you've got "Jordan on a dramatic detox diet after gorging on junk food." You've got "Tamara, thinner than ever as she power walks off the pounds." And "Kim admits she's exhausted but forces herself to work out."

Woman 1: The content of magazines is really, really, deliberately intended to target women's insecurities.

Woman 2: "Rhianna's bump fuels pregnancy rumors." Which, let's face it, is just a back handed way of saying she might be getting fat.

Woman 1: Basically they need to keep selling you all these products which supposedly correct your flaws in order to keep going. Because it's the advertising revenue that's kind of keeping magazines alive. "Star's secret treatments and what keeps them looking younger." And then after that, "age proof your eyes." It's just relentless. I mean, if you can finish reading this magazine and not feel slightly insecure about yourself then you're a stronger woman than I think I am.

Woman 1: We came across a marketing document which was trying to find out which day of the week women felt most bad about themselves. So that they could match up their marketing strategy with that day. And I think it was Monday that women feel most bad about themselves. And I think that just really reveals the way of thinking that's happening with these magazines. You constantly are being told that you lack something. Whether it's a perfect waist-to-hip ratio, or ... What was it I saw? Somewhere yesterday. "Perfect brows, which make your life worth living." Or something ridiculous like that. It's constant.

Woman 1: There's always something that you need to be buying to make yourself better. So, for example, this magazine which I would imagine is aimed at the under-eights. Probably younger. And inside, you've got various mazes and games for little girls to play. In this case, it says "which item does the fairy pass most often on her way to the makeup bag?" And it comes with 23 free gifts. Lipstick, three rings, tattoo, two hair clips, and 16 body gems.

Woman 1: I started buying magazines when I was 9 or 10. First, it was kind of Top Of The Pops, and Smash Hits that either boys or girls could read. But then, once you've graduated onto Miss, or to Sugar, or to Shout, or to Bliss, or to whatever teenage magazine is kind of, was popular for your generation. You realize that you're being groomed, essentially, for a lifetime of insecurity, and a lifetime of flaws that you'll need to remedy by spending.

Woman 1: "Look younger." I mean that's a real imperative. That's something that you have to be doing right now. And "drop a decade today, makeup special." In fact, older women, because they have so much spending power, become massive targets for this kind of thing.

Woman 2: You've got "Carol Loses 2 stone in 10 years!"

Woman 1: "Spritz yourself younger" even perfume that will make you smell younger. Apparently older women give off a specific smell now as well. "Give your hair a youth-over!" Sites like Mumsnet and indeed The Vagenda provide a real antidote to this kind of manufactured self-loathing. Because, up until the invention of the internet, women's magazines would tell you what it meant to be a woman, what you needed to do to be a woman. And they had that real authority. But now that we have the internet, women have an opportunity to communicate with each other in so many different ways, and to kind of tell it how it really is, and to share their experiences.

Woman 1: And what's great now is that you've got women fighting back and saying no, this is not how I want my daughter's life to be, and this is not how I want my life to be. And that's more powerful than anything a magazine can say.

Woman 2: Poor guy.

Woman 1: Poor guy. Poor you.

Woman 2: Poor, poor guy.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

This clip comes from Mumsnet, a parenting site based in England. The women talking are co-founders of The Vagenda, whose slogan is "Like King Lear, but for Girls."

And this is the Wikipedia page for "King Lear" if you’re like me and didn't get that reference.

May 21, 2014

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