• Andy Workman

Enough is Enough?

(Photo Credit - Daily Mirror)

If you have been watching any television news or reading any newspapers over the last couple of days (August 2018), you may have seen coverage of an interesting story involving the singer and TV presenter Stacey Solomon. Stacey came to our attention as a contestant on The X Factor, where she came third overall in the sixth series, but as is often the case with those talent shows, winning it does not guarantee fame and success and more than being a runner up means that your chance has passed you by. Stacey’s personality, naivety and infectious laughter made her an instant favourite with many of the nations viewers and secured her a place in our hearts. As a result, she has developed a successful career as a TV presenter on shows such as Loose Women and an admirable jungle competitor in “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here”.

You may have already assumed that I like Stacey and you would be correct in that. Unlike some of the ‘celebrities’ out there, Stacey has gone out of her way to be a role model for young people and women in particular. A proud Mum, she often uses her television appearances and social media presence to champion issues that affect her and others. She has gained a well-deserved reputation for openly releasing images of herself without make up or proudly wearing bikinis that clearly show her true figure, “tummy rolls” and all. Her doing so, in an attempt to challenge the altered or airbrushed reality of glamour photographs, has been lauded by campaigners and fans on every occasion.

So why would this decent, well-intentioned, woman be described on the front cover of ‘Now’ magazine as “boring, desperate and cheap”? In fact, why does that magazine, and others, constantly insult and demean people, and in particular women, with negative headlines and humiliating or compromising images? Could it be because it sells copies? Readers are buying their product so why would they stop?

Are WE part of the problem?

Why do we love taking people down?

You don’t? I didn’t think so. So, why do we read this utter tripe that does the job for us?

People rightly campaign for women to be taken more seriously in every walk of life, only for magazines like this destroy all of that hard work in an instant. The worst thing about that? Look at who the editors are for these publications - the majority are WOMEN! Why would they shoot down the very women who are doing what they can to make a difference? Why do women buy their magazines, when all they do is ‘bitch’ about celebrities and public figures? They’re called ‘Gossip Mags’ for a reason, and we all know how insidious and damaging gossip can be.

But it goes further than that. When we look at the controversial subject of ‘airbrushing’ and image retouching by women’s magazines, it is often women who are most offended by the practice. Of course it is, women are the ones most affected by the resulting images. They’re given unrealistic ideals to aspire to or to be judged against, causing, at best unrealistic goals or, at worst depression and low self-esteem. So, we have to ask why, when the vast majority of editors in that particular genre of publication are women, is it still common practice? The answer? Because the magazines still sell by the thousand every day. Unfortunately, those sales cause damage which is becoming more evident all the time.

Negative body image, untruths and gossip are fed to us, and particularly women, at every turn. Is it any wonder that an increasing number of women, of all ages, are reportedly hurting themselves, through self-harm or eating disorders as a result depression, anxiety, stress and low confidence and self-esteem? Are we surprised that women are often reluctant to put their heads above the parapet and strive for success or aspire for self-development when they see successful women being ripped apart by the lower quality press and media – in a huge amount of cases by fellow women?

Men are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I have to say that, whilst I’m sure we are just as susceptible to air-brushing of images (which is just as much of a problem), magazines aimed at men rarely attack anyone for their body shape and size or their personality. In the vast majority of cases, men’s magazines are positive, humorous or inspiring. I cannot recall any article exposing an individual’s huge weight gain or loss, unless it is written in the spirit of “I did it, so can you”. Not once have I seen an article based on an unflattering photo, taken from a particular angle that exposes “flaws” or encourages “shame”. If they do appear it’s usually silly humour or has a funny caption added, with no spite or jealousy evident.

Of course, there are some fabulous publications on the shelves, aimed at the female readership, and written to inspire, inform and entertain. Not all magazines fall into the “Gossip” trap as so many of the cheaper “pulp” magazines do. They still sell. Their editors, writers and photographers are still in paid work. So, they clearly recognise and demonstrate that we don’t need to be negative, spiteful and insulting to be successful.

So how can we stop this rot and the irreparable damage that gossip magazines cause? We have to recognise that to change the world, we need to start with ourselves. We cannot hope to change the behaviour of the editors or the content of their magazines if we keep buying into their products. If we change our behaviour, by shunning the publications that spread their poison in the guise of “entertainment”, they will need to change. Sales influence every editorial decision, they have too, so why not use the power of your influence?

Why not show these editors that, rather than people like Stacey, it is their magazines and the contents of them that have become very “boring”, very “desperate” and whilst not inexpensive, very “cheap”?

Stacey in one of her 'real' photos (Credit - Digital Spy)


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