Dear Anna, Cindi, Kate, Glenda, Joanna, Brandon, Robbie, et. al:
Did you know that the print advertisements that run alongside your articles extolling female empowerment, health and wellness, luxury handbags and the latest in laser-hair-removal techniques are hurting your readers' self-esteem? You could even say that, since the majority of your magazines are made up of ads — not editorial copy — these advertisements are undermining or outright negating all the progressive, reader-friendly work you and your staff do every month.
Oh, you didn't hear? We know that with all the red-penciling of your writers' manuscripts, the jetting off to Milan for fashion shows and the endless parade of advertiser-ass-kissing industry events, you have little time, for, well reading. Well, allow us to get you up to speed. According to a new study conducted by three female researchers in the University of Missouri's educational system, after just one-to-three minutes of exposure to the type of advertising routinely found in magazines like yours, young women just entering adulthood, hate themselves more than they (probably) already do. See, there's this thing in America called the female "standard of beauty" and this standard of beauty, according to a 2003 study, is exemplified by a woman who wears a size 4 in the hips, 2 in the waist, and 10 in the bust, a standard, this new study explains, that "is both thinner than the average woman and genetically impossible for most women to attain". (Emphasis ours). And the repeated exposure to this standard seems to be harming women's self-esteem. Not familiar with the standard of which we speak? Pick up the most current issue of your magazine. You'll be able to find it, oh, about every three pages or so, if not more.
But back to the issue at hand. You might think that the women who were reported to be negatively affected after viewing the advertisements in your magazines are the overly-sensitive, already-insecure sort (like, maybe they're a little thick in the hips!) You'd be wrong. The authors of this new study report that whether one of their participants was thin or heavy, confident or prone to self-objectification (that is, seeing themselves "objects to be looked at and evaluated"), the result was the same: the women "were equally affected by viewing the images of thin women" and "showed increased body dissatisfaction after viewing appearance-related images".
Just to put this in context for you: The study was made up of 81 European-American women, split up into two groups. One, a control group, looked at ten "neutral" advertisements (that is, ads with images that did not include people in them). The other group looked at five "neutral" advertisements and five "appearance-related" advertisements (all of which pictured "European American women who exemplify cultural ideals of thinness and attractiveness."). Imagine that. After viewing just five ads — your ad sales departments, will, of course, be able to explain that your magazine routinely carries many, many dozens of such ads per issue — these impressionable young college students felt a lot less positively about themselves.
We realize you have important work to do, but we're glad we've been able to share this information with you. And if we could offer just one more thought: You might want to have your lead assistant call up Belle Fleur and send over one of those hundred-dollar, clustered bouquets of pastel blooms to the 81 undergrads who opted to take part in the study. After all, we know how much you care about your readers, and we're sure they'll appreciate the gesture.
Anna & Moe