Selling Mixed Messages

Dear Women’s Health/Fitness Magazine Industry,

I, like so many other women, hold–either presently or some time in the past–a subscription to your publication. I may even hold a friend’s subscription as a gift. If I am not a subscriber, either presently or some time in the past, I have purchased your publication based on what the cover said that particular issue contained.

Quite frankly, I am presently, and have been for some time, frustrated and disappointed with all of you.

You talk about how those of us “real” women can achieve great results and get into the best shape of our lives, but you never once put a “real” woman on the cover. Instead, you relegate her to one of your success stories. Don’t get me wrong. Those stories are highly inspiring. But that’s all the air time any “real” woman gets. Instead, you chose your cover models carefully…and if someone messes up a little, it’s OK. You’ve got an airbrush for that.

You talk about how to get “perfect” abs…thighs…butts…arms…whatever. I’ve yet to see it delivered.

One of you recently included as a cover story a “shocking” report on detox diets…and promised to tell us the things we ought to know so as not to cause harm to our bodies. Somewhere around 3-5 pages before the printed story, you advertised a popular detox program that can be found at our local GNCs.

Many of you made a crap ton of money from selling Hydroxycut ads.

The problem is that, while ads generate revenue which you need to keep bringing us these fantastic publications each month or two, you are selling the reader mixed messages: Here’s how to get in great shape. Do these exercises. Pop these pills.

There’s rarely a Do these exercises. Eat more plants. Drink more water. kind of advertising or message on its own merit. I’ve yet to see a The reason you may not be able to lost those extra pounds may lie in your thyroid or an undiagnosed food allergy.

You are not selling health. You are perpetuating the lofty, socially-driven, unattainable ideal. And you are being irresponsible.

What would it do for your publication to instead sell REAL health and REAL beauty. The kind that are found in women of all ages, shapes and sizes? What if you stopped cowing to advertisers’ dollars and really led the way to changing popular media’s portrayal…and objectification…of women?

Oh sure. Women make the choice to purchase your publication. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to buy it. But let’s face it. Women are buying a dream. Shouldn’t you be selling them a better one?

However, I would like to say thank you for publishing letters along these lines where women write in and point out how disappointed they are that you do not portray real women. And for your yummy recipes.

Now, if you would go beyond printing the letters to actually changing your work…


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