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The Portrayal of Beauty in Women's Fashion Magazines

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This article explores the ways in which international fashion magazines such as Elle, Vogue, and Marie Claire portray feminine beauty in textual and advertising matter and how their readers react to such portrayals. It is based on content analysis of more than 700 issues of these titles published in France, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK, and USA, and collected over a fifteen-year period, as well as on extensive ethnographic research among fashion magazine editorial staff and women readers of the magazines in question. The analysis focuses on the different kinds of “face” that magazines invite their women readers to put on. While magazine contents confirm the validity of previous feminist critiques, the article argues that magazine editors — and their advertisers — adopt a “technology of enchantment” as a means of exercising control over their readers. Magazine and advertising language is imbued with “magical” power, and the structure of beauty advertisements closely parallels that of magical spells used in healing rituals. The efficacy of such spells is borne out by reader interviews.
Fashion Theory, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp. 491 510
DOI: 10.2752/175174110X12792058833933
Reprints available directly from the Publishers.
Photocopying permitted by licence only.
© 2010 Berg.
The Portrayal
of Beauty in
Women’s Fashion
Brian Moeran
Brian Moeran is Professor of Business
Anthropology at the Copenhagen
Business School and director of
the ©reative Encounters research
program studying the socioeconomic
organization of creative industries
(including fashion and media). He
has written widely on advertising,
and is completing a book on fashion
magazines (provisionally titled
Magazine Junkies ).
This article explores the ways in which international fashion magazines
such as Elle , Vogue , and Marie Claire portray feminine beauty in tex-
tual and advertising matter and how their readers react to such port-
rayals. It is based on content analysis of more than 700 issues of these
titles published in France, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK, and USA, and
collected over a fi fteen-year period, as well as on extensive ethnographic
research among fashion magazine editorial staff and women readers of
the magazines in question. The analysis focuses on the different kinds
of “face” that magazines invite their women readers to put on. While
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492 Brian Moeran
magazine contents confi rm the validity of previous feminist critiques,
the article argues that magazine editors and their advertisers adopt
a “technology of enchantment” as a means of exercising control over
their readers. Magazine and advertising language is imbued with “magi-
cal” power, and the structure of beauty advertisements closely parallels
that of magical spells used in healing rituals. The effi cacy of such spells
is borne out by reader interviews.
KEYWORDS: beauty advertisements, fashion magazines, magic, tech-
nology of enchantment
This article explores the ways in which international fashion maga-
zines such as Elle , Vogue , and Marie Claire portray feminine beauty
in textual and advertising matter and how their readers react to such
portrayals. It is based on content analysis of more than 700 issues of
these titles published in France, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK, and USA,
and collected over a fi fteen-year period, as well as on extensive ethno-
graphic research among fashion magazine editorial staff and women
readers of the magazines in question. The analysis focuses on the differ-
ent kinds of “face” that magazines invite their women readers to put on
and suggests that they and their advertisers adopt a “technology of
enchantment” (Gell 1988, 1992) as a means of exercising control over
them. Magazine and advertising language is imbued with “magical”
power, and the structure of beauty advertisements closely parallels that
of magical spells used in healing rituals (Tambiah 1968).
Fashion magazines hint that women everywhere in the world share
a single common concern and are united by an inescapable bond of
beauty. This point was also made in an interview with an American
beauty editor:
Why does Marie Claire always feature beauty? Because our research
tells us that beauty is what attracts readers most. We may dedicate
more pages to fashion or features each month, but beauty is unive-
rsal. It’s an empowering topic that interests all women.
Beauty is also inextricably linked to fashion. Twice a year, in Febru-
ary and August, fashion magazines put out special beauty issues that
tell their readers about the latest trends and looks from the fashion
catwalks. In other words, beauty is an essential part of The Look
2 that
every serious fashion magazine reader should aspire to Make the most
of your looks; New looks for you; Best looks for all shapes .
3 Maga-
zine headlines cover a plethora of beauty themes: for instance, “Knock-
out Beauty,” “Makeover Fantasies,” “Make the Most of Your Face,”
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The Portrayal of Beauty in Women’s Fashion Magazines 493
“Summer Make-up,” “Whitening Cosmetics: The Ultimate Study,” “A
New Look for Your Eyes,” “The Body Issue,” and “Acquire That Per-
fect Butt.”
4 Such themes derive from the old adage, prevalent since the
time of Plato, that if you look beautiful, you must be good, and vice
versa (Synnott 1989: 611). So all the fashion magazines carry monthly
beauty sections, usually placed immediately after the fashion well, and
publish special beauty issues that refl ect the latest trends in makeup and
hair styles seen on the catwalks of the fashion capitals of the world.
Scholarly studies of women’s magazines have tended to fall into
one of three categories. One of these the most dominant examines
images of women as portrayed in magazine pages (e.g. Winship 1987);
another consists of analyses of the market (e.g. Barrell and Braithwaite
1988); and a third has focused on readers (e.g. Hermes 1995). This
division has tended to be gendered, with men focusing on business (e.g.
Consterdine 2002) and women on sociocultural aspects (e.g. Beetham
1996). Most discussions of images of women in magazines have
adopted a feminist viewpoint and been extremely critical of their con-
tent (e.g. Friedan 1963; McCracken 1993). This has made magazine
editors and publishers loath to assist further academic research that
aims to go beyond content analysis and look at production processes
(cf. Gough-Yates 2003: 23). One or two studies, however, have suc-
ceeded in combining detailed content analysis with in-depth interviews
(e.g. Ferguson 1983; Moeran 2006a). This article, too, seeks to inte-
grate content analysis with detailed discussions with editorial staff and
readers of magazines in France, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK, and USA
(cf. Moeran 2006b).
The Contents of Beauty
There are certain contradictions in the way fashion magazines talk about
beauty. Even though many of us may have been taught to think that
“beauty is only skin deep” and that we should “never be deceived by
appearances,” both text and advertisements in the magazines assert that
beauty is something that starts inside ourselves: “Natural beauty comes
from deep within yourself. It’s about being comfortable with who you
are and taking care of yourself”; “True radiance starts from within”; “If
true beauty lies within, then it is surely refl ected in a smile your greatest
beauty asset and the secret to feeling great about yourself.”
5 Indeed, one
advertisement suggests a kind of aesthetic commune of women: “Women
everywhere share one common concern. Beauty dilemmas are the ines-
capable bond that unites them. Looking good is a priority. It affects not
only how others look at you, but also how you feel about yourself.”
The moralistic attitude that beauty in some way depends upon a
woman’s character is not new. Long before Helena Rubinstein, Eliza-
beth Arden, Estée Lauder, and others began purveying their elixirs and
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494 Brian Moeran
beauty creams, people decried the use of makeup as “immoral.” This
was partly because the only women to go around putting on grease
and paint were theater actresses and prostitutes; properly brought up
woman of whatever age would never dream of using cosmetics if they
wished to continue being seen as “proper.” The argument went that,
precisely because they made women look more beautiful than they in
fact were, cosmetics were deceitful, and by corollary women who wore
makeup were themselves deceitful. This gave rise to a rather remarkable
act passed by the English Parliament in 1770 to the following effect:
That all women, of whatever age, rank, profession, or degree,
whether virgins, maids, or widows, that shall, from and after
such Act, impose upon, seduce , and betray into matrimony any
of His Majesty’s subjects, by the scents, paints, cosmetic washes,
artifi cial teeth, false hair , Spanish wool,
7 iron stays, hoops, high
heeled shoes, bolstered hips, shall incur the penalty of the law
now in force against witchcraft and like misdemeanours, and that
the marriage, upon conviction, shall stand null and void. (Piesse
1867: 30)
Indeed, when Helena Rubinstein fi rst started making cosmetics for the
market in the early twentieth century, she recalled that actresses were
still the only women who knew how to apply makeup and who dared to
be seen in public with anything more than the lightest application of rice
powder on their faces (Craik 1994: 159). In other words, the prevailing
morality of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was ascetic. True
beauty had no need of cosmetic assistance. It was either inborn or, at
least, cultivated from within (Synnott 1989: 65).
In part, fashion magazines reinforce a classic prejudice.
8 But this is
only part of the beauty story that they tell their readers. After all, if they
were to be consistent in their avowals that beauty really did come from
within, they would never be funded by cosmetics and skincare compa-
nies’ advertising in the way that they are. Names like Armani (L’Oréal),
Bobbi Brown, Chanel, Christian Dior (LVMH), Donna Karan, Estée
Lauder, Guerlain, Lancôme (L’Oréal), MAC (Estée Lauder), Shiseido,
and Shu Uemura (L’Oréal) can all be found advertising prestige beauty
products in Elle in any one year. Mass beauty advertisers in the American
edition of the same title include Beiersdorf (Nivea), Chesebrough-Pond’s
(Pond’s beauty creams, Vaseline, Cutex nail care, Q Tips), Clairol, Hel-
ena Curtis (Unilever), L’Oréal (The Body Shop, Garnier, Maybelline,
Sanofl ore), Proctor and Gamble (including Always, Cover Girl, Max
Factor, Noxzema, Oil of Olay, Pantene, Tampax, and Vidal Sassoon),
and Revlon. In exchange for its 35 percent share of the 44,174 pages of
beauty advertising carried in a single year by the various editions of Elle ,
Harper’s Bazaar , Marie Claire , Vogue , and Cosmopolitan (including
2,619 pages placed by L’Oréal, together with the 2,163 and 2,101 pages
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The Portrayal of Beauty in Women’s Fashion Magazines 495
by Estée Lauder and Lancôme respectively),
9 Elle devotes about 11 per-
cent of its editorial pages to beauty and health (by whatever name), and
includes more than fi fty pages on skincare. By comparison, Marie Claire
carries 13.9 percent, Harpers Bazaar 9.1 percent, and Vogue 8.1 percent
of their pages on the subject of beauty, fi tness, and grooming.
There must, then, be another half of the magazine conundrum. If it is
in part eternal What is it like to be born beautiful ?
11 — beauty cannot
be defi ned in absolute terms. Magazines have to insist that it is not wholly
xed or permanent. The inner-self can change, and with it a woman’s ex-
ternal appearance: “Change your mind. Change your mood. Change the
color of your eyes”
12 is one way forward. Another is attitude: How to
be a knockout: the hair, the skin, the attitude, the secrets .
13 A third is to
emphasize the idea of “makeovers”: Makeover fantasies ... look like a
star or 101 ideas for a New you PLUS FREE beauty makeover for every
reader .
14 Yet a fourth is to reverse the equation, so that the relationship
between appearance and the inner-self is two-way. “If a woman feels
pretty on the outside, she becomes prettier on the inside, too.”
How does she achieve this? By paying close attention to the beauty
shortcuts advertised by the magazines, with their tips, tricks, cover-ups,
and how-tos: Shortcuts to perfect hair & makeup ; 10 tips for a fl awless
skin ; New tips and tricks ; “Create the illusion with cosmetic cover-ups”;
250 hair & makeup easy how-tos and pro-tips .
16 This is how she gets
her “instant good looks”: Get gorgeous in 10 minutes ; Get a better body
by tonight ; even The Slacker’s Guide to a Great Body .
17 Making-up
may be hard to do, but beauty is morally good for you, not immorally
bad —“the product of diligence, rather than an inexplicable gift from the
supernatural” (Wax 1957: 592).
Grooming Practices
Perhaps the best way to look upon the magazines’ passion for fashion
and belief in beauty, hair, and perfume is to see them all as “grooming
practices” (Wax 1957). Grooming practices play an important and essen-
tial part in the concept of dress, which is itself a broad term that includes
“visual as well as other sensory modifi cations (taste, smell, sound, and
feel) and supplements (garments, jewelry, and accessories) to the body”
(Eicher 1995: 1). In other words, fashion magazines regard their readers
as “a gestalt that includes body, all direct modifi cations of that body,
and all three dimensional supplements added to it” (Eicher and Roach-
Higgins 1993: 13).
Grooming practices involve highly conscious, social aspects of physi-
cal appearance, which is manipulated in various ways to make a desired
impression upon others. Such manipulations include bathing, cleansing,
anointing, moistening, and coloring the skin; cutting, shaving, plucking,
braiding, waving, setting and dyeing face, head, arm, underarm, leg and /or
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496 Brian Moeran
pubic hair; both deodorizing and scenting the body; coloring or marking
the lips, eyes, cheeks, face, nails, or other exposed regions; cleansing,
coloring, straightening, and fi ling the teeth; molding, emphasizing,
training, restraining, and /or concealing various parts of the body; and
so on.
Cosmetics and skincare products are part of “the human body shop”
(Sharpe 2000: 297). That women, in particular, feel obliged to manipu-
late their appearance (by means of a nose job, face lift, tummy tuck,
liposuction or whatever) suggests that they are being exposed as victims
of oppressive, idealized standards of “beauty,” such as those proposed
by the fashion magazines, where defi nitions of the self and social worth
are driven by physical appearance alone (Sharpe 2000: 307–8).
All techniques of facial and body decoration like these concern the
relationship between the self and the social body (Wax 1957: 588). It
is the face, however, that acts as the prime symbol of the self and its
many facets in social interaction (Synnott 1989). Each of us is always,
more or less consciously, acting out a social role actually, a number of
roles, depending on the social context in which we fi nd ourselves in our
everyday lives. This means that our individual face is in fact a social face
which we “put on” and “take off” like our clothes. We are always in-
volved in “face-work” (Goffman 1967: 12) and maintaining a carefully
monitored face or mask is a condition of interaction.
18 Makeup can be
useful in the maintenance of our public face because it allows us to select
and defi ne a particular face from among possible options. Makeup is
itself a mask and serves two principal and contradictory functions:
self-expression (implying a single self the “real me”) and self-creation
(allowing the expression of many selves) (Synnott 1989: 61–2). See me,
not my makeup .
So makeup is a special kind of face-work, of which all members
of a particular social circle from fash pack to glitterati, workplace
to gym have a particular knowledge and are expected to make use.
Face the World .
20 Not to wear makeup in a workplace where makeup
is expected, for instance, can easily defi ne a woman as not caring for
or about men, and thus as not heterosexual but gay, and certainly not
credible in what she does (Dellinger and Williams 1997). Making up
consists of a set of habitual and standardized practices for the magazine
reader, whose “look” is designed to control her potential embarrass-
ment and thus the embarrassment that she and others in her social
world might feel over her embarrassment (Goffman 1967: 13).
In other words, putting on makeup is a ritual process that is act-
ually more important than the cosmetics products used, and proves
more satisfying the more it is repeated (Radner 1989: 303 4). Although
the ostensible goal of these upkeep and makeup processes is to make a
woman look more attractive, she is in fact signaling her position within
a particular consumer category, as well as in a particular social world
(Radner 1989: 303 6). Upkeep and makeup, therefore, are to a woman’s
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The Portrayal of Beauty in Women’s Fashion Magazines 497
physical appearance what diplomacy, poise, savoir faire , tact, and social
skills are to her social face-work (cf. Goffman 1967: 13).
Wearing a Face That She Keeps
in a Jar by the Door
By her own choice, a woman can have the violet eyes of Elizabeth Taylor,
the eyebrows of Marlene Dietrich, the breasts of Dolly Parton, the lips of
Angelina Jolie, the upper arm tone of Michelle Obama, the abs of Ma-
donna, and so on. As the Avon Beauty Guide put it some years ago:
Beauty is the sum of many parts. Skin care, makeup, hair care ...
They’re important. But there’s more ... fragrance ... jewelry ... and
attitude. The way you feel good about yourself ... They’re all part of
being beautiful. Your own, personal kind of being beautiful. Like a
private puzzle you piece together bit by bit. And turn into one glori-
ous whole that’s unique in all the world. YOU. (Synnott 1989: 69)
This approach to beauty as a totality of grooming practices was echoed
in my discussions with beauty editors, although framed in terms of a
magazine title’s differentiation strategy:
When I started here at Vogue Nippon ... I decided the beauty
pages should focus on the body as their main theme on the
shape of a woman’s bottom, for instance, or of her breasts that
sort of thing. I mean, the trouble with most magazines is that they
focus exclusively on beauty from the neck up.
Aya Aso drew a line across her shoulders with one hand to make her
So they tell you how to put on eyeliner, paint your lips, all that
sort of thing, with the result that when women look at themselves
in their mirrors, all they see is their faces close up. Their mirrors
don’t show their backsides, though, or what they look like from
a distance, or the whole of their bodies. And that’s wrong in my
The fact that the magazine reader’s face and body are carefully dissected
and fragmented into dozens of different parts enables magazines and
their advertisers to conjure up numerous beauty dilemmas that appear
designed to keep women in a permanent and continuous state of con-
cern and lack of self-confi dence. It is only through the hard work of
making up that women can maintain their temporary beauty and avoid
being seen as ugly (Tseëlon 1995: 78–9). When they bond, therefore,
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498 Brian Moeran
they do so over the shared pain of “bad” skin, “bad” hair, and “bad”
legs (Bordo 2000: 146).
In this no-win situation, a woman’s face must be radiant, luminous,
healthy, polished, porcelain-like, fresh, sweet, and young or, at least,
rejuvenated (by means of a facelift, chin tuck, neck lift, nose refi ne-
ment, ear reshaping, and lip augmentation). Her eyes should be big,
bright, dramatic, enticing, expressive, intense, sensual, sexy, smiling,
and smoky not just eyes, but Wow eyes .
22 Her lashes should have curl-
power, defi nition, density, length, and (high-voltage) volume to give them
a “personality.”
23 Her eyebrows, too, should be defi ned, dramatic, im-
peccably shaped, and well-groomed. As for her skin, she should give it
a shimmering glow, radiance, softness, texture, and tone that is alive,
dewy, doll-like, even-toned, fl awless, fresh, healthy, luminous, polished,
sheeny, silky, smooth, soft, translucent, transparent—“that porcelain, no-
discernible-blips-at-all smoothness.”
24 Magazine advertisements tell her
to brighten skin, capture the glow, soften fl aws, boost radiance, defy age,
seize the future, and stop the clock, by means of face capsules, creams,
illuminators, moisturizers, powders, and serums.
25 As Estée Lauder is
said to have said: “Be good to your skin. It’s the only one you have.”
This is but the beginning of a magazine reader’s beauty instruction
manual that fragments her face, head, and body into a myriad differ-
ent, interconnected parts. Hair, ears, nose, cheeks, mouth, lips, teeth,
smile, neck, breasts, arms, hands, fi ngernails, stomachs, bottoms, but-
tocks, hips, thighs, legs, feet, toes, even genitalia, are all brought into the
beauty equation in one way or another. As a result, there is little else to
conclude other than that fashion magazines encourage condemnation of
the way in which women’s primary social value is seen in terms of their
attractiveness and ability to appeal to men (Friedan 1963; Wolf 1991).
Technologies of Enchantment
Rather than continue with what has proven to be a long, drawn-out
feminist debate, I want here to embark on a different tack and look at
how fashion magazines present beauty as a system of magic. The best
place to start this discussion is with the idea of enchantment. Alfred
Gell (1988: 6–9) has argued that one way human beings distinguish
themselves from other species is by their technological capabilities. We
use sometimes simple, sometimes very complicated technical means
to form a bridge between a set of “given” elements (the body, for in-
stance, or a base material or environmental feature) and a goal that we
want to achieve by making use of these givens (the achievement of beauty,
for instance, or the perfection of alchemy, or saving the rainforest).
One of the technologies that we often like to use is that of enchant-
ment . Indeed, the technology of enchantment is probably the most
sophisticated psychological weapon we use to exert control over the
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The Portrayal of Beauty in Women’s Fashion Magazines 499
thoughts and actions of other human beings, because it “exploits innate
or derived psychological biases so as to enchant the other person and
cause him / her to perceive social reality in a way favourable to the social
interests of the enchanter” (Gell 1988: 7). Among its manipulations are
those of desire, fantasy, and vanity.
Having laid out his basic premise, Gell then turns to the relationship
between technology and magic. Because of the parallel enchantment
of technology, technical processes become enchanted vessels of magi-
cal power (Gell 1992: 46). Symbolic, rather than causal, magic resorts
to magical formulae (spells or prayers) which in themselves are fairly
meaningless, but which in the context of a magical system fulfi ll a tech-
nical role. In this way, magic consists of a symbolic “commentary” on
the technology of enchantment.
One form taken by magic in contemporary societies is advertising.
The fl attering images of commodities purveyed in advertising co-
incide exactly with the equally fl attering images with which magic
invests its objects. But just as magical thinking provides the spur
to technological development, so also advertising, by inserting
commodities in a mythologized universe, in which all kinds of
possibilities are open, provides the inspiration for the invention
of new consumer items. Advertising does not only serve to entice
consumers to buy particular items; in effect, it guides the whole
process of design and manufacture from start to fi nish, since it
provides the idealized image to which the fi nished product must
conform. Besides advertising itself, there is a wide range of imag-
ery which provides a symbolic commentary on the processes and
activities which are carried on in the technological domain ... The
propagandists, image-makers and ideologues of technological cul-
ture are its magicians, and if they do not lay claim to supernatural
powers, it is only because technology itself has become so power-
ful that they have no need to do so. (Gell 1988: 9)
From this we may argue that fashion magazines are the propagandists
and (in conjunction with advertising agencies) image-makers and their
cosmetics and skincare advertising clients the ideologues who provide
a symbolic commentary on, and idealized images of, fashion and beauty.
It is they who provide the impossibly fl attering images of fashion models
and celebrities, they who invest fashion and beauty with magical quali-
ties. For just how they do this, however, we need to turn to the work of
another anthropologist, Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah.
The Magical Power of Words
In “The Magical Power of Words,” Tambiah (1968) examined the use
of words in ritual and the fact that the uttering of words is itself a
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500 Brian Moeran
ritual. Most ritual systems, he argued, progress from word to thought
to power, and fi nally to deed a dénouement which, I will soon show,
characterizes the structure of cosmetics and skincare advertisements,
designed to enchant and entice their readers by words and images to go
out and buy actual products.
So far as Tambiah was concerned, verbal forms in ritual were in many
ways “spells,” whose power derived from their being uttered in a very
special context. The example that he gave to illustrate this was a Sinha-
lese healing ritual, which made use of three kinds of verbal form. The
rst, a mantra , adopted an archaic language of command accompanied
by a language of entreaty and persuasion to summon the demons res-
ponsible for the disease. Then followed the kannalavva which “states
why the ceremony is being held, describes the nature of the patient’s
affl iction and makes a plea for the gods to come and bless the ceremony
and to the demons to act benevolently and remove the disease” (Tam-
biah 1968: 177). The major part of the ceremony was then taken up by
highly lyrical and literary quatrains called kaviya , designed to defi ne,
objectify, and personify evil and disease, and to present them realistically
so that appropriate action could be taken to change the undesirable to
the desirable a necessary precondition of the cure. Finally, the ritual
ended with a repeat of the mantra which enacted the expulsion of the
demon itself.
The parallel between a healing ritual in distant Sri Lanka and con-
temporary beauty-related advertisements placed in the fashion maga-
zines by corporate giants in Paris and New York is rather remarkable.
Firstly, every advertisement carries a headline summoning a particular
part of the body, which is demonized by omission for not being what
it should be. Thus: Dazzling Eyes , Smashing Lashes , and Drop Dead
Nails .
27 Alternatively, a headline will summon a particular effect sought
by purchase of the advertised product without specifi c mention of a part
of the body. Thus: Clean Sensation , and No Time to Shine .
28 Or it will
summon a product or product range: Stylocils Mascara Précis , Les Ma-
jeurs , Rouge Absolu .
29 The language used in headlines like these tends
to be couched in phrases designed to entice and persuade.
Secondly, each headline is usually accompanied by a subheading ,
which provides an explanation of the “problem” addressed by the ad-
vertisement: “The make-up that keeps a fresh, matte fi nish all day,”
or “At last, true colour and supreme comfort combined ... Long-lasting,
hydrating lipstick.”
This is followed, thirdly, by an advertisement’s copy , forming the
“body” of the written part of the advertisement. It defi nes, names,
or at least by omission hints at, the affl iction dryness, lack of endur-
ance, artifi ciality, imperfection, diffi culty in handling, and so on that
the advertisement seeks to remedy. For example: “Continuous release
of moisturizers keeps lips soft and smooth hour after hour!”;
32 “Shades
that don’t fade for eyes that wow even 8 hours from now!”;
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The Portrayal of Beauty in Women’s Fashion Magazines 501
“So amazingly natural-looking”;
34 “For a look that’s perfectly fl awless,
ultimately natural,”
35 and “The gentle, easy to remove formula.”
Finally the closing mantra of every advertisement is the tagline ,
which is used to announce the necessary condition of the cure provided.
Thus we fi nd makeup mantras like: The most unforgettable women
in the world wear Revlon ; Believe in beauty (Lancôme); Because I’m/
you’re worth it (L’Oréal); Redefi ning beautiful (Cover Girl); For beau-
tiful human life (Kanebo); and It’s a fact. With Clarins, life’s more
beautiful .
Tambiah (1968: 177 8) notes that, in Sinhalese healing rituals, the
mantra is in many ways incomprehensible to ordinary people because it
makes use of an archaic language no longer spoken by ordinary people.
Again, there is a slight, though not exact, parallel here with advertising
headlines, which are not always immediately or fully comprehensible,
even though they clearly make some sort of sense. For example, head-
lines like Eat your lipstick; Lips can whisper, Lips can shout ; and Black
Raspberry, Cherries Jubilee, Chocolate Mousse
37 probably make most
readers pause for thought because they usually prefer not to eat lipstick,
and do not think of their lips as having voices, or of tasting of sweet des-
serts. But Who’s the squarest of them all? , Where there’s smoke, there’s
re ; Rogue Vogue ; Fall in deep and It’s a long story are more opaque.
What is clear, though, is that headlines differ from body copy in
advertisements in much the same way as sacred language differs from
vernacular or profane language used in ritual. There is a sequence of
forms that starts out by chanting aloud sacred words, moves to readily
comprehensible vernacular language (short phrases, plenty of punctua-
tion), and fi nishes with a combination of the two. As in ritual, advertis-
ers use language in a way that connotes their power (over beauty) to
exorcise the demons of unattractiveness.
This they do in a number of ways. First of all, they are possessors of
secret knowledge that they reveal to the magazine reader: “A lipstick
only Lancôme could create,” or “The Pro-Glide Brush and Formula
System is the secret to isolating virtually every lash with new length.”
As in rituals, this kind of knowledge is expressed through formulae
which, once voiced, act and infl uence the course of events (Tambiah
1968: 184). They are so special that they have ethereal or magical
qualities , expressed either in a product name for instance, Lancôme’s
Rouge Magique or in advertising copy. For example, “At the heart of
the success of Les Majeurs are Lancôme’s exclusive microbubbles. These
minute, supple spheres rest invisibly on the surface of the skin ... The
magic of make up.”
Next, cosmetics and skincare companies’ specialized knowledge in-
vites the magazine reader to participate in a dream world of fantasy and
belief with phrases like “a dream world of colour” and “shades that fl irt
with fantasy.”
41 Believe it . Revitalizing Make-up. Only by Maybel-
line. Light-refl ecting coverage diffuses fi ne lines. SPF 10 helps protect
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502 Brian Moeran
skin’s future. Vitamin A and moisturizers. Revitalizes for a younger
42 “The look of great skin. That’s the believable look of Clean
Rituals and advertisements, then, make use of the magical power
inherent in sacred words to persuade adherents to believe in what is
displayed. This is where naming becomes so important. Just as in the
Bible God assigned names to light (Day) and darkness (Night), so do
cosmetics and skincare companies assign names to their products as
a means of provoking action (the purchase of the product advertised):
Blooming Colors™ , Lash Out , LineWorks™ , Moisture Whip® , Pro-
grès Plus , Velvet Touch , or the more scientifi c-sounding Maquifl uide
Hydratant , Niosôme , and Trans-Hydrix . Another character that is part
of the naming process is that each product name is an entity that can
act and produce effects in its own right (Tambiah 1968: 183). Lash Out
extends lashes, LaquiResist is extra-resistant nail lacquer, Progrès Plus
makes greater progress fi ghting aging skin, and so on.
In both ritual and advertising, therefore, three notions form an inter-
related set. First, there are deities in the form of cosmetics manufacturers,
who institute speech and classify activity. Then there are the people in
our case, the fashion magazine women readers who use this propensity.
Last, there is language, which has an independent existence and the mys-
tical power to infl uence the reality of beauty. Advertising is a heightened
use of language that aims to combine word and deed (the persuasion
to purchase and make use of a product) by using spells especially con-
structed to effect a magical transfer. As in many magical practices found
among tribal peoples around the world, beauty advertisements isolate
and enumerate “the various or constituent parts of the recipient of the
magic” (a woman’s eyes, hair, lashes, lips, nails, skin, and so on), and
then make a magical transfer that enables them to become “dazzling,”
“healthy,” “luscious,” “kissable,” “soft,” “natural,” and so on. By build-
ing up these parts, we are able to form a realistic picture of the whole a
metonymic technique that lends realism to the rite of makeup, transmits
a message about beauty through redundancy, and allows the storing of
vital technological knowledge in an oral culture of women’s gossip (Tam-
biah 1968: 190).
Moreover, in these rituals, verbal formulae are often accompanied
by the manipulation of certain kinds of objects, which then become
charged with special potency. This is similar to the construction of
beauty advertisements, which make use of highly-charged images of
beautiful women who show that the intended effect of the magical for-
mulae can be achieved (Tambiah 1968: 190 –1). In conclusion, beauty
advertising, like ritual, attempts to:
Re-structure and integrate the minds and emotions of the actors.
The technique combines verbal and non-verbal behaviour and ex-
ploits their special properties. Language is an artifi cial construct
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The Portrayal of Beauty in Women’s Fashion Magazines 503
and its strength is that its form owes nothing to external reality: it
thus enjoys the power to invoke images and comparisons, refer to
time past and future and relate events which cannot be represented
in action. Non-verbal action on the other hand, excels in what
words cannot easily do it can codify analogically by imitating
real events, reproduce technical acts and express multiple impli-
cations simultaneously. Words excel in expressive enlargement,
physical actions in realistic representation. (Tambiah 1968: 202)
The Double Whammy of Consumer Capitalism
But do these magical formulae work? Do the readers of glossy maga-
zines believe in the magical power of beauty propagated by editors and
advertisers? Do they think they can be unforgettable by wearing the
right makeup? Do the products they use really redefi ne their beauty?
Is life any less beautiful without them? Perhaps the best way to tackle
questions like these is to fi nd out what women magazine readers them-
selves have to say about beauty, makeup, cosmetics and skincare com-
panies, and the glossies themselves. After all, “texts acquire meaning
only in the interaction between readers and texts” (Hermes 1995: 10).
A Japanese housewife in her early fi fties, who herself worked in a
small advertising agency in Tokyo, was quick to spot the magical power
of fashion and advertising language:
Perhaps the use of totally meaningless language ( imi sappari wa-
karanai kotoba ) is a kind of concept employed by magazines and
advertisers to make readers stop a bit to wonder what’s going on.
In my opinion, it’s better not to be caught up in magazines like
this. That’s why I fl y through them.
So, there was recognition of the magical power of language. But did it
persuade her to buy products?
When I see something on display in a shop with a copy of the mag-
azine in which the product has been featured, I purposely ignore
it. My daughter’s the same. If she sees something recommended in
a magazine, she’ll absolutely refuse to buy it. She doesn’t want to
be the same as everyone else.
Others were less vehement in their criticisms. Amy, an English artist-
designer in her mid-thirties with a seven-month-old son, admitted to
some infl uence from magazines and their advertising.
I do get ideas from magazines. My basic makeup kit is eyeliner,
mascara, a little bit of eyeshadow. That’s all. No lipstick. And
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504 Brian Moeran
I haven’t got to the anti-wrinkle stage yet. The other day I was
feeling a bit sallow and seemed to have big bags under my eyes.
Probably had a hangover again. But I saw an Yves Saint Laurent
dark circle stick advertised for fi fteen quid. I nearly thought of
getting it to paint out the dark circles under my eyes, which I re-
ally need to do as a mother. It turned out that my friend Pippa had
one, so I tried it out. On my wrist. Didn’t buy it, though.
A Greek single mother in her early forties was also interested in skincare
and prepared to pay attention to what the magazines had to say:
I read about beauty products much more now. I suppose it’s a sign
of age, but the morning cream I use now was something I saw
recommended in a magazine and I bought it in the local depart-
ment store. I tend to like those pages where the magazine staff say
how they’ve tested a product and rated it according to how good
or bad it is. And yes, I’ll be persuaded and try it out, even though,
of course, I know that ultimately everything is being marketed
strategically , and the editorial pages are not really disinterested.
I’m loyal to products, though, and will stay with something for
years if I like it.
Initially concerned that my research might somehow be funded by the
fashion magazines themselves, an Australian political scientist in her
mid-thirties was slightly reticent when we fi rst met. She then warmed
to the subject:
I used to read Marie Claire because it was a good resource. Its
research and product info was good for a whole range of products.
It tried to project a “We’re doing it for you ” approach in its beauty
section. It had product trials in which its offi ce staff participated
and ranked different products on a scale of 1 to 10. It probably con-
sisted of “infomercial” pages, but generally I believed what Marie
Claire said. So when I went shopping, I’d try something I liked the
look of at the counter and, if it was OK, I’d quite often buy it. You
know, there’d be features like Spring clean your make-up kit . I’d
buy maybe four out of the ten articles they suggested. I guess you
can say that I was directed to shop by Marie Claire . Its layout and
colours were all optimally designed to help us buy.
A Japanese literature student in her early twenties, working part-time
in a pub in Tokyo, was also quite positive about the fashion magazines
that she had been reading over the years.
I’m particularly interested in the way they present makeup prod-
ucts, and I read the text pretty closely to fi nd out if a product’s
good or bad. It’s true, I only have the magazine’s word for it,
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The Portrayal of Beauty in Women’s Fashion Magazines 505
but I can then go and try things out here and there in the shops.
Usually about half of the stuff I read about turns out to be OK.
This kind of experience was shared by a Japanese journalist in her mid-
thirties working in Hong Kong:
I remember, when I went to college in the mid-1980s, a new fash-
ion and makeup boom came and we all talked about it with our
girlfriends. Twenty different kinds of nail polish! Revlon was very
expensive then in Japan. But one of us would come to college
and say: “Look! I’ve just bought Number 29, Cocoa Pearl, in
Hawai’i.” That was at a time when the shade of cocoa pearl
didn’t even exist in Japan, so we’d all borrow it and try it on,
she laughed at the recollection.
Later on, of course, I got wise to the tricks the magazines get up
to and became really cynical about them. But it didn’t stop me
from reading one or two of them.
A Hong Kong university student admitted to being a bit of a “lipstick
How do I know about all the lipsticks I’ve got at home? Of course,
from magazines. When I’m walking around Sogo or some other
department store, I see a lot of cosmetics and start looking for the
real things the magazines show. For example, Chanel had a Mil-
lennium product that I went to look at, but it wasn’t really what
I wanted. So, yes, magazines like Elle stimulate me to go to the
shops, although all the cosmetics I see there, I think, are more or
less the same. It’s basically a question of how they’re packaged,
isn’t it? But I may buy other things I see in a store. So my maga-
zines help me become a good consumer! I can’t believe them all
the time, though, because they’re always telling us readers that
all the products they talk about are good, and that can’t be true.
Maybe it’s because the advertisers are the magazines’ bosses you
know, by paying them so much money. So, you end up sharing
information with your friends about what kind of makeup and
cosmetics you’re actually using. And of course , I believe my
friends more than I do my magazines.
This kind of refl ection on consumption being induced by fashion maga-
zines came up quite frequently. A thirty-nine-year-old Dutch woman,
for example, expressed her skepticism as follows:
The trouble with magazines is they lure you into the kind of world
where looks are who you are. So, if you feel insecure for some
reason, you begin to think maybe I should have my breasts fi xed
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506 Brian Moeran
when I’m forty-fi ve, or have the fat removed from my thighs, like
the magazines tell you. Thank God, I have friends. They soon
snap you out of whatever wild idea you’ve had from reading a
Amy, too, was well aware of magazines’ tricks of the trade:
Of course, a lot of it’s fake. Now that I do Photoshop, I can see
where the magazines have chopped pieces of skin and fl esh off
models’ arms, airbrushed out all their blemishes, and so on. It’s
a total fantasy world they’re showing. But you can’t look like
that forever, can you, if you’re a working woman or a mum. It’s
even worse a double whammy seeing all these perfect bodies
since I became pregnant. Why should I spend £3.50 on a glossy,
when I don’t have the fi gure now, and especially when I don’t
have the money because I’ve had to stop work. My girlfriends
and I read glossy mags from time to time and get depressed ’cos
we don’t wear the right clothes, we don’t look the way we should.
It’s mor bid.
For her part, Melissa laughed uneasily:
I see huge contradictions in myself, but then we all have them,
don’t we? I agree with the bricolage idea of picking and choos-
ing from among different products to make ourselves what we
want to be, but at a higher level you have to look at why women
are asked to look in certain ways in the fi rst place. Like in the
business world, for example, where how you look comes before
everything. This may be my own intellectual approach. I don’t
know. I myself like to wear makeup and so on, and magazines
ll in a need in this respect. It’s a bit of an escape, yes. It repre-
sents an outlet for me. How does one cope with modern life?
Makeup and beauty are one part of what you get in women’s
magazines. “They’re a short way to escape from the daily routine
of — hah!”
She sighed self-ironically,
Stress. It’s amazing as consumers how much we’re being ma-
nipulated really. I guess I’m suspicious! But that’s consumer
capitalism, isn’t it? It’s a problem of our generation not ques-
tioning our consumer culture at all. Consumer culture’s out of
control. It’s just rampant materialism what you wear, what
kind of bag you have, what makeup you put on, is what you
are , isn’t it? Magazines seem interested only in furthering that
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The Portrayal of Beauty in Women’s Fashion Magazines 507
Last Word
In this article, I have shown how beauty is one of the main features
of fashion magazines, which present to their readers multiple, and oc-
casionally contradictory, discourses of what constitutes beauty. One
of these discourses is moral: true beauty comes from within. Another
embeds beauty fi rmly within the idea that to be attractive is to attract.
A third suggests that a woman’s individual face is a social face, so
that makeup is a special kind of face-work that magazine readers are
expected to learn and practice. A fourth claims that all women, regard-
less of age, socioeconomic or cultural background, are united by the
beauty dilemmas depicted in the magazines, which with the aid of
advertisers consciously break up a woman’s face and body parts into
dozens of fragments that then have to be reassembled and coordinated
to create beauty.
While showing that the beauty contents of fashion magazines
could indeed, should be subjected to feminist critique, this article
has argued that magazines and their advertisers adopt a “technol-
ogy of enchantment” as a means of exercising control over their readers.
Magazine and advertising language is imbued with “magical” power,
and the article has shown how the structure of advertisements closely
parallels that of magical spells used in certain kinds of healing rituals. It
concluded by providing excerpts from interviews with magazine readers
around the world to show the extent to which women are persuaded
to consume by the magic power of magazine and advertising language.
The overall impression given by these interviews is that women are
in some way spellbound by this magic system and that they do buy
into the “beauty myth,” even though many of them are simultaneously
conscious of the fact that they are somehow being “manipulated.” In
this respect, the words used by magazines and advertisers to talk about
beauty do, indeed, have a magical power.
1. Interview with Didi Gluck, Beauty Editor of Marie Claire USA, New
York, November 27, 2001.
2. Elle USA, August 2001.
3. Marie Claire USA, April, May, and February 2001.
4. Elle USA, March 2002; Elle India November 1998; Marie Claire
USA, April 2001; Elle India, April 1998; Elle Japon , July 1998; Elle
India, September 1998; Elle USA, April 1997, April 1998; Elle India,
April 1998.
5. Marie Claire USA, July 2001; Advertisement for Perfectil capsules,
Vitabiotics, 2001; Marie Claire UK, March 1997.
6. Advertisement for Vaniqa™, 1997.
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508 Brian Moeran
7. Wool impregnated with carmine, and used for a long time as rouge
(cf. The Art of Beauty; or, the best methods of improving and
preserving the shape, carriage, and complexion . Knight & Lacey,
London, 1825, p. 192).
8. To be fair, fashion magazines are not the only feminine medium to
insist that beauty comes from within. The cover of the May/June
2009 issue of New Moon Girls that recently arrived through the
letterbox for my twelve-year-old daughter, reads: Celebrate Your
Inner Beauty .
9. Publisher’s Information Bureau statistics, PIB/LNA, 2000; Interdeco
Global Advertising Data, Elle Worldwide 2002.
10. Media Analysts Topline Editorial Campaigns, January–December
2000, Media Analysts Inc.
11. Elle USA, October 1997.
12. Advertisement for Freshlook disposable color contact lens, 2006.
13. Elle USA, October 2001.
14. Elle India, November 1998; Marie Claire UK, January 1996.
15. Mary Kay Ash quoted in Marie Claire UK, May 1997.
16. Marie Claire USA, November 1997; August 2001; June 2001;
Marie Claire UK, April 1997; Marie Claire USA, March 2001.
17. All Elle USA, April 1998.
18. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the word for “person” in English
and many European languages comes from the Latin persona , mean-
ing a theatrical “mask.”
19. Advertisement for New Complexion™ Even Out Makeup by Rev-
lon, Summer 2000.
20. Advertisement for N
o 7 Super Lasting Lipcolour by Boots, Winter
21. Interview with Aya Aso, Beauty Director of Vogue Nippon , Septem-
ber 23, 2004.
22. Advertisement for Overtime Shadow by Revlon, Autumn 1991.
23. Subscription advertisement for Vogue UK, December 2006.
24. Jan Masters, “Buying time,” Elle UK, September 2001.
25. Advertising copy for Revlon skin lights Face Illuminators, Estée
Lauder LightSource SPF 15, and Helena Rubinstein Urban Active
Age Defence system.
26. Promotion for Estée Lauder Re-Nutriv Creation, Vogue UK, De-
cember 2007.
27. All from Revlon, Autumn 1991.
28. Both from Cover Girl, Autumn 1991 and Winter 1990.
29. All from Lancôme, Summer 1986, Autumn 1990, Winter 1990.
30. Advertisement for Cover Girl Oil Control Make-up, Winter 1990.
31. Advertisement for Lancôme Rough Absolu Lipstick, Winter 1990.
32. Advertisement for Revlon Moon Drops Lipstick, Summer 1996.
33. Advertisement for Revlon Overtime Shadow, Autumn 1991.
34. Advertisement for Revlon New Complexion Makeup, Spring 1992.
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The Portrayal of Beauty in Women’s Fashion Magazines 509
35. Advertisement for Cover Girl Ultimate Finish Liquid Powder
Make-Up, Autumn 1994.
36. Advertisement for Cover Girl Professional Mascara, Winter 1991.
37. Headlines for Aveda, Lenthéric Paris and Mary Kay advertisements.
38. Headlines for L’Oréal Fall Collection 1996; Chanel Le Regard, De-
cember 1994; Maybelline, Autumn 1996; L’Oréal Fall Collection
1997; L’Oréal Lash Out Mascara, Autumn 1994.
39. Advertisements for Lancôme Rouge Absolu, Winter 1990; and
Cover Girl Advanced Mascara, April 1995.
40. Advertisement for Lancôme Les Majeurs, Autumn 1990.
41. Advertisements for Dimension Rêve and First Blush, both by Lan-
côme, Autumn 1985 and Spring 1988.
42. Advertisement for Maybelline Revitalizing Liquid Make-up, Winter
43. Advertisement for Cover Girl Clean Make-Up, Spring 1992.
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... Según los distintos autores que han definido estos tipos (Forceville, 1998;Phillips y McQuarrie, 2004;Maes y Schilperoord, 2008), dos elementos se combinan creando una imagen híbrida en la fusión, un término está presente y el otro al que hace alusión se sugiere de algún modo por el contexto en la sustitución, y dos o más objetos se encuentran simétricamente alineados en la yuxtaposición. Otra subcategoría que se introdujo fue el escenario o contexto del anuncio para saber, especialmente, si existen paralelismos visuales con las alusiones verbales a la naturaleza y a la ciencia descritas por Ringrow (2016) y Rossolatos (2018), o a los rituales de Moeran (2010). ...
... Por ejemplo, parece que se eleva (4a) porque el producto contrarresta los efectos de la gravedad en la piel, simula que se mueve lateralmente (4b) porque produce un efecto tensor, explota (4c) por su capacidad energizante, y difracta la luz por su gran capacidad de protección solar (4d). Estas representaciones, como en el caso de las emanaciones, podrían considerarse una manifestación visual de lo que Moeran (2010) describe como lenguaje mágico, como si los cosméticos tuvieran las propiedades milagrosas de levantar, tensar, vitalizar o proteger. ...
... Sin embargo, abundan las hipérboles, uno de los recursos que permite la regulación publicitaria de cosméticos. La estrategia persuasiva que apela a lo mágico descrita por Moeran (2010) tiene una manifestación visual en la forma en que el producto aparece representado. Asimismo, existen manifestaciones visuales del uso de los aspectos verbales descritos por Ringrow (2016) sobre el uso del lenguaje científico o la alusión a lo natural como estrategia persuasiva. ...
El presente estudio utiliza el análisis de contenido para conocer los aspectos visuales de la publicidad gráfica de la categoría “Tratamientos faciales de belleza” de las principales marcas en España. Los datos indican que la estructura más utilizada es la imagen de una mujer que personifica el ideal de belleza a la izquierda mientras que a la derecha se encuentra un texto explicativo junto con el producto, generalmente representado de forma expresiva. Además, cada marca se caracteriza por una combinación específica de estrategias visuales. Los resultados tienen implicaciones tanto para el sector publicitario como para los estudios sobre cultura visual.
... The older people of both genders are mainly portrayed as props in the backgrounds for the major characters, who are predominantly young female models. Fashion and beauty, inextricably linked with each other (Moeran 2010), are the hardest segmental line inscribed to these pictures. Not surprisingly, the young female characters, as the intended dominant roles, are the only fashionable and beautiful body/thing in the pictures. ...
... The assemblage of fashion pictures, as an effect of beauty, fashion, and consumption machines, has long been dominated by the molar norms of feminine youth and beauty throughout the eras of prefeminism, feminism, and postfeminism (Budgeon and Currie 1995). The images of young female models in fashion pictures have been a social standard of beauty, attractiveness, and sex appeal for viewers to learn and practice (Moeran 2010). Within the assemblage of the sampled fashion pictures, once the young female characters are consistently assembled as embodiments of youth, beauty, fashion, and style, they become 'a constant and homogeneous system' and ceases becoming (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 105). ...
This study analyzes and interprets the depicted older characters in the featured photographs in Chinese fashion magazines, namely, Harper’s Bazaar China and FHM China, to extend the research context and enrich the literature on the mediated images of older people. The concept of assemblage and the tetravalent model of assemblages developed by Deleuze and Guattari are adopted as the major theoretical framework and methodology. The study reveals that the fashion pictures as assemblages are territorialised by the coinciding binary lines of young/old and fashionable/unfashionable. The assemblages of older bodies depicted in the pictures are fixed by the attributes of rural origin, lower class, and fashion insensitivity and the discourses of ‘the elderly in empty nests’ and ‘the Chinese Dama.’ The older bodies act to destabilise the fashion pictures due to their heterogeneity with fashion. They reterritorialize the young female models as intruders to their ghetto territories. However, the models, who are empowered by their majoritarian roles, the otherness machine, and the fashion Orientalism, finally legitimate their intrusion and reterritorialize the older bodies as ‘bodies without layers.’ The elderly men’s conventional power as an active gazer is deterritorialised by the young female models.
... Everyone can see and judge the physical appearance of other people, especially in every woman, the part of the human body that can attract attention is the face (Vartzopoulos, 2013;Trisnawati, 2016;Sumanty et al., 2018;Small, 2022). Having a smooth and flawless face has always been every woman's dream (Moeran, 2010;Sims, 2012;Zhang, 2012;Rohana, 2014;Putri & Minerva, 2022). McLoughlin, (2013); Maarif et al., (2019); Ulva et al., (2021); Rimbardi et al., (2022) say that a person's attractive and beautiful appearance can be seen from his skin. ...
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The problem of oily facial skin causes a person's lack of confidence. This can cause acne and other facial skin problems. Therefore, researchers chose a jackfruit leaf mask as a solution because it can remove oil from oily skin and get rid of acne. The aim of the research is to determine the feasibility of Jackfruit Leaf Powder masks to be seen in terms of laboratory tests, organoleptic tests and hedonic tests. This research is an experimental study of jackfruit leaf powder masks. Data collection used the documentation and questionnaire methods prepared with a Likert scale consisting of 7 panelists consisting of 2 lecturers, 2 people from beauty clinics, and 3 students. The data collected was processed using a descriptive analysis formula, the percentage of laboratory test results was Flavonoids contained in jackfruit leaf powder masks, namely 1.27%/100 gram sample.
... Basically, makeup is not something that is foreign to everyone, especially women, because cosmetics is a perspective that upholds appearance and has become something commonplace (Berryman & Kavka, 2017;Bonell et al., 2021). Makeup is an art form in itself in a series of beautifying women's appearances (Elias & Gill, 2018;Moeran, 2010). Makeup is an activity of applying cosmetics to perfect the imperfect parts of the face so as to obtain the desired beauty as a woman's selfconfidence (Lirola & Chovanec, 2012). ...
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This research started from the results of pre-study observations on West Sumatran brides who have oily facial skin, it was found that there were problems with inappropriate makeup results that affected their appearance and self-confidence, including makeup that didn't last long. and form the powder gathered in one place. This study plans to investigate the impact of the use of face primer gel on the makeup results of West Sumatran brides with oily facial skin. This type of examination is an investigation with a quantitative methodology. The number of samples in this exploration were Padang State University students with an age range of 19 – 25 years with the criteria of having oily facial skin. The sample collection technique used a purposive testing technique with a sample size of 2 individuals. Search information using One Sample T-test with SPSS 25. Due to the use of face primer gel in West Sumatran bridal cosmetics on oily facial skin, it can be seen that the most prominent value is in the smoothness level with a normal value of 3.70 with a very smooth model. In the flatness section, it has a normal 3.80 with a very normal model. Meanwhile, in terms of durability, it has a typical value of 3.80 with a very durable size.
... Unfortunately, in most walks of life, women are regularly scrutinized to determine how closely they meet these standards. Women then-their ages, locations, socioeconomic statuses, and cultural backgrounds notwithstanding-are fragmented into a series of body parts and reassembled to determine the extent of their beauty (Moeran 2010). ...
That skin color has an impact on self-images of women has long been a consequence of racial discrimination and dominance, as well as the use of light-skinned models in advertisements and other forms of communication throughout modern times. While not all women aspire to greater ‘whiteness’ of complexion, this standard has influenced many countries that were once dominated by Caucasian invaders. As multiculturalism infuses developed and developing nations, however, these standards may be shifting away from generic and hegemonic visions toward more realistic and varied standards, requiring international marketers to be proactive rather than reactive in their customer engagement practices under the ethical frame of perfectionism. To examine this perspective, we completed a cross-national qualitative (in-depth interviews) study in India, Egypt, and Ghana where lightness of skin intonation has been a culturally imposed prerequisite for women to be considered and consider themselves beautiful. Using customer engagement literature and the ethical perfectionism framework, our study investigates women in these countries who embrace or disdain this standard, further contextualizing customer engagement research across international markets. Implications are offered as a way to advance multinational corporations’ development of customer engagement along a mutually beneficial path.
... Previous research has examined how genders are portrayed in advertising in a variety of media (Furnham and Lay 2019;Furnham and Skae 1997) and associated with various product categories, including beauty and fashion items (e.g., Conley and Ramsey 2011;Fowler and Carlson 2015;Lindner 2004;Moeran 2010). Research has also examined the cultural nature of gender portrayals in advertising images in different countries (Chu, Lee, and Kim 2016), with research outside of the binary categories lacking (Eisend 2019a). ...
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Gender is a feature of beauty marketing, used in marketing segmentation and communication images, where binary images are predominant. Recently, the social identity of gender has become increasingly nuanced as a more complex set of identities, including genderqueer and nonbinary, influences marketing communications. As part of cultural expression, advertising reflects and impacts how consumers perceive themselves and others, with Generation Z consumers increasingly rejecting gender labels and stereotypes. Consequently, our study involves the visual meaning making of 222 Instagram images of beauty brands’ marketing communications with models other than “female” in traditional Western society’s conceptualization of gender. The findings reveal a group of models who are not female; while most of these images are genderqueer, a group that may be considered agender is evident. Both groups have distinctive although differing characteristics, suggesting the development of new stereotypes. This study contributes to understanding the changing representations of models: While beauty brands primarily use female models, the increased use of genderqueer and agender models can attract alternative target markets. It also highlights advertising’s place in cultural expressions that both reflect and impact how consumers perceive themselves and others.
... This study is carried out in the Indian context where women have been significantly portrayed in ad. While some studies in India focused on the gender differences (Bakshi, 2012;Kumaravel, 2017;Vijayalakshmi et al., 2017), some of the latest research on advertising have portrayed empowered women called "femvertising" in consumer durables, luxury assets, and fashion products (Grau and Zotos, 2016;Moeran, 2010;Tsai et al., 2019). The process of viewing advertisements that promote unrealistic expectations can encourage women to focus more on their physical appearance and put themselves in the shoes of a critical observer looking from the outside (Fredrickson and Roberts, 1997). ...
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Purpose This paper aims to investigate the relationship between general attitude toward advertising and consumers' purchase intention. The relationship between cognitive attitude, intrusiveness attitude, evaluative judgments, affective response and general attitude toward ad was examined. Furthermore, reliability as a moderator in the relationship between cognitive attitude, intrusiveness attitude, evaluative judgments, and affective response and the general attitude toward ad were studied. Design/methodology/approach Data from women consumers who subscribe to fashion magazines in India were collected and analyzed using a structured survey instrument. Women were selected because the products were related to women, including facial and body-care products, women sportswear, shampoos, lipstick, handbags, etc. Unit of analysis in this research is “observations,” and in all, 400 data points were analyzed, and to test hypothesized relationships, hierarchical regression and logistic regression were employed. Findings A conceptual model is developed and tested where (1) cognitive attitude toward ad, intrusiveness, evaluative judgments and affective responses are related to general attitude toward ad, and (2) general attitude toward ad is related to purchase intention. The hierarchical regression results show that (1) reliability moderates the relationship between cognitive attitude, intrusiveness, affective responses and general attitude toward ad. The logistic regression results support the positive relationship between general attitude toward ad and purchase intention. Research limitations/implications Since the present research is based on self-report measures, the limitations of social desirability bias and common method bias are inherent. Second, this research focuses only on women consumers and products purchased by women. The research has implications for literature on advertising, especially women-related products. Practical implications This study contributes to practicing managers who are interested in promoting the women-related products. This study highlights the importance of general attitude toward ad as a precursor for consumers purchase intention. The study provides justification for enormous amounts of money invested in fashion advertising because of their effects on consumer behavior. Originality/value This study provides new insights about the effects reliability on general attitude toward ad and consumers' purchase intention. The conceptual model developed in this study adds novelty by considering reliability as a moderator, in addition to the direct relationships which have been studied by earlier researchers.
... With a high number of lifestyle magazines promoting whiteness and Eurocentric beauty (Hunter, 2007), the community is prone to believe that whiteness is the merit for beauty. As stressed by Moeran (2010), "magazine and advertising language is imbued with 'magical' power", and it has the power to affect one's way of perceiving things. In analysing the bloggers thoughts and opinions, several bloggers are seen to have agreed with the propagation of the 'ideal' skin colour that the media was responsible for. ...
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The article is exploring the ideology of skin colour as portrayed by Malaysian bloggers through their blogging platforms. Colourism is regarded as a process that privileges light skin over dark. It is believed that the ideology of light skin and it’s superiority is previously constructed by the traditional media. However, given the availability of the new media, the representation of skin colour is expected to provide a contrastive view. A content analysis is conducted towards a number of 15 blog entries that are addressing the subject of skin colour. The findings revealed five significant themes that are observed to be emerging on the discourse of skin colour made by the bloggers; namely negative experiences, the standard of beauty, the media’s influence, personal preferences, and the obsession for light skin. It is discovered that through the independent and unregulated blog contents, a positive perspective that emphasize in respecting skin colour as they stand is identified; however, the influence of the existing ideology that privileged light skin over dark is found to remain substantial.
This contribution investigates the phenomenon of mature female influencers, exploring how social media platforms have enabled so far marginalised social subjects not only to become produsers, but also to develop a leading role online, reshaping social representations and practices connected with the world of the older persons. The study addresses the following research questions: what kinds of content do mature influencers elaborate to produce and convey their messages? How do they change the structural relationship between women and fashion? We selected 18 mature influencers, and employed a qualitative approach based on online ethnography and analysis of social media content. The findings suggest that older influencers are challenging the conventional ways of imaging old age and reshaping the cultural meanings associated with ageing, thus contributing to innovation in the social representations and to the creation of alternative imagery of older women. In doing so, they are producing an important discourse for women, the older adults and the whole of society. However, initial attempts by fashion houses to colonise them are emerging.
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Background Skin quality plays an important role in overall attractiveness. However, so far, no visual grading scales have been published while their development seems to be an essential key step to provide validated grading scales for the evaluation of efficacy of minimally invasive procedures and cosmeceuticals aims on impovement of skin quality, aesthetic research and clinical application. Objectives To develop and validate a visual five point assessment scale for the evaluation of skin quality of female facial skin. Methods The five‐point photonumeric Scientific Assessment Scale of Skin Quality is based on six parameters. 50 standardized photos were rated by 13 experts. This examination was carried out in two cycles with an interval of four weeks. The intraclass correlation coefficient contributes to the identification of the interrater‐ and intrarater reliability. Results Statistical analysis investigated six specific and two general parameters: The results of the inter‐ and intrarater reliability for skin elasticity (ICC 0,816; ICC 0,883), wrinkles (ICC 0,840; 0,885) and age (ICC 0,885; 0,925) were almost perfect. The reliabilities for pigmentation (ICC 0,637; ICC 0,797), erythema (ICC 0,688; ICC 0,797) and overall skin quality (ICC 0,652; ICC 0,756) were substantial and for pore size moderate (ICC 0,405; ICC 0,584). Skin surface roughness (ICC 0,480; ICC 0,645) indicated a substantial intrarater reliability and a moderate interrater reliability. These data revealed good and excellent results. Conclusions The Scientific Assessment Scale of Skin Quality represents an innovative universal and reliable measurement instrument for a valid and reproducible evaluation of six parameters of aged female facial skin quality.
Welches Potenzial hat feministische Wissensproduktion für die kritische Medienforschung? In gegenwärtigen Medienkulturen sind die gesellschaftlich stets umkämpften Prozesse der Herstellung, Legitimierung, aber auch Transformation von Macht- und Herrschaftsverhältnissen unübersehbar mit medialen Repräsentationen, Technologien und Praktiken des Medienhandelns verwoben. Der Band stellt wegweisende Beiträge feministischer Theoriebildung (u.a. von Adrienne Rich, bell hooks, Donna Haraway und Judith Butler) vor, die von ausgewiesenen Autor_innen in ihrer Bedeutung für eine gesellschaftstheoretisch fundierte Medienforschung gewürdigt werden.
In the first half of this paper (in BJS Volume 40, No. 4) we considered the development of thinking about beauty and the face chronologically, from the Greeks and Romans through Christianity and astrology to the present. Here we trace the matter thematically, the face as mask in social interaction; the face as art: makeup and plastic surgery; and the face as battlefield: a source of ideological controversy. A final section considers some of the variables and dimensions around which discourse on beauty and the face has centred.