Expensive and thick publications that contain a long stream of advertisements interrupted by the occasional vapid and unoriginal article. Examples include Vogue, Glamour, and Style. Both the articles and the advertisements tend to show women with perfect bodies, unreal makeup, and powerful sexual magnetism. Many feminist scholars believe that such images lead to distorted body images, eating disorders, and low self-esteem. Now, these pictures aren't bad provided that the viewer sees them as art--as elegant and beautiful and idealistic and unrealistic as a sculpture of Adonis or a painting of Aphrodite. Nonetheless, if you go to the gym, you'll often see women reading these magazines intently as they chug away on the treadmill in a futile attempt to reshape their bodies to match those of the models--even though the models themselves achieved those glorious proportions only with the help of Photoshop.

I suppose these particular women might like to appreciate art while bouncing up and down on a stairmaster, but somehow it just doesn't seem plausible. Moreover, it seems unlikely that women read these magazines for the articles. Most of the magazines contain the same old screeds on the same old subjects. To wit:

It's by no means clear why so many women continue to purchase these magazines when they are quite well aware of the distorted version of reality that the average fashion rag portrays. Are these women immune? Do they mistakenly think they're immune? Do they fall victim to societal pressure in spite of their knowledge? Do they really think the articles are insightful? What's the deal?

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