M E D I A W A T C H    S E R I E S
Marko Zajc, Janez Polajnar
Ours and Yours
Tanja Petrović
A long way home
Brankica Petković, Marko Prpič, Neva Nahtigal, Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin
Media Preferences and Perceptions
Mitja Velikonja
Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin, Brankica Petković
You call this a media market?
Brankica Petković, Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin, Lenart J. Kučić, Iztok Jurančič, Marko Prpič, Roman Kuhar
Media for Citizens
Mitja Velikonja
Jernej Rovšek
The Private and the Public in the Media
Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin, Lenart J. Kučić, Brankica Petković
Media Ownership
Roman Kuhar
Media Representations of Homosexuality
Dragan Petrovec
Violence in the Media
Majda Hrženjak, Ksenija H. Vidmar, Zalka Drglin, Valerija Vendramin, Jerca Legan
Making Her Up
Gojko Bervar
Freedom of Non-accountability
Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin
Serving the State or the Public
Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin, Marko Milosavljević
Media Policy in Slovenia in the 1990s
Breda Luthar, Tonči Kuzmanić, Srečo Dragoš, Mitja Velikonja, Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin, Lenart J. Kučić
The Victory of the Imaginary Left
Matevž Krivic, Simona Zatler
Freedom of the Press and Personal Rights
Karmen Erjavec, Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin, Barbara Kelbl
We About the Roma
Tonči Kuzmanić
Hate-speech in Slovenia
Darren Purcell
The Slovenian State on the Internet
Breda Luthar
The Politics of Tele-tabloids
Marjeta Doupona Horvat, Jef Verschueren, Igor Ž. Žagar
The Pragmatics of Legitimation

Majda Hrženjak, Ksenija H. Vidmar, Zalka Drglin, Valerija Vendramin, Jerca Legan, Urša Skumavc
Making Her Up
Women's Magazines in Slovenia

eBook (2.614kB, pdf)

In this collection of papers the authors highlight some of the most representative topics dealt with in women’s magazines in Slovenia.

Majda Hrženjak’s study The Bio-politics of the Body in Women’s Magazines is based on a survey of cosmetics advertisements published in Glamur in 2001. The author argues that in modern society women’s magazines are effective vehicles for the disciplining of the female body and subjectification of the modern woman, who is seen as a consumer concerned with her image and herself. In fulfilling this task, women’s magazines rely on scientific discourses (particularly those of natural sciences) while serving the interests of capital. The question that arises is what drives women to subject themselves, apparently of their own free will, to the mechanisms of the cosmetic disciplining of the body. The answer may be found in Foucault’s conception of modern power, which is anonymous, non-institutionalized and widely dispersed. Moreover, these power relations lie at the very core of the subject’s pleasure. Ads for cosmetics and cosmetic practices are a feature shared by all women’s magazines. They offer women pleasure, comfort and the feeling of identity by defining and shaping the culturally exulted image of “real” femininity, while at the same time disciplining them and exerting control, or to be more precise, inducing women’s self-discipline and self-control.

Ksenija H. Vidmar, the author of Naša žena and the Image of the Mother, examines a shift in the representation of women in women’s magazines that occurred during the past two decades and has been evident also in women’s magazines published in Slovenia. The stress is now placed on individualism, self-confidence and professional success of women who act and fulfill themselves outside the context of the home and family. The image of the mother, which used to dominate the “traditional” representations of women, has been retreating. Vidmar’s paper is based on the analysis of Naša žena (Our Woman) issues spanning the decade 1991-2001. Naša žena is the first and the oldest women’s magazine in Slovenia and therefore a particularly important source of the modern Slovenian iconography of woman’s images. Vidmar points out that the disappearing image of the mother is a phenomenon with an ambiguous and contradictory outcome. Women’s presence in public life is recognized by both the scientific and the journalistic discourses on motherhood in Naša žena. Nevertheless, neither liberates a woman from her maternal role, but only redistributes her maternal tasks into the hours when she is absent from home. In this way a woman is disciplined in her new environment, primarily as a consumer. The author concludes that during the period of transition in Slovenia, women became liberated from motherhood only to be subjected to a new discourse on motherhood in a new social context dominated by consumerism.

Zalka Drglin, the author of Message Received - Women Re-play?, analyzes the issues of Moj Malček (My Toddler) published in 2000. She tests the thesis about the medicalization of everyday life that particularly affects woman because of her reproductive role. Drglin shows that articles in Moj malček mainly support the predominant trends, for example, the imperative of breastfeeding, medicalization of pregnancy and birth, and aspirations to deliver a “perfect child”. The image of woman as painted by this magazine combines idealized traits of a devoted nursing mother and an employed woman who effectively combines family life with her career. The question that remains open is to what extent the magazine will succeed in transcending its current conformism.

In the article entitled The culture of femininity: “Cosmo at work”, Valerija Vendramin surveys the Slovenian edition of Cosmopolitan. She focuses her attention on the image of femininity and some basic contradictions that underlie Cosmopolitan (and similar magazines). She argues that these products of mass culture establish a variant of the world for which they offer orientation and socialization techniques and that they have concrete, though not necessarily direct, effects. Although declaratively Cosmopolitan is an emancipatory magazine that includes educational features presented in the spirit of popular feminism, its content is permeated by the beauty myth. The female subject of Cosmpolitan is uniform in terms of age, social class, visual appearance, and mental outlook, while its main determinant is the trio Sex-Beauty-Fashion.

Jerca Legan, the author of Women’s Magazines as Advertising Media, concludes that advertising and editorial material form a continuum, with these two types of content increasingly and imperceptibly merging. This influences not only the overall image of women’s magazines, that is, the easily recognizable level of the graphic content (women’s magazines appear as advertising brochures with occasional interruptions) but also, and more importantly, the textual level where advertising is not easily perceivable (editorial content is buried in purchased and non-purchased ads). The basic problem, and the question that this article attempts to answer, stems from the dependence of magazines (particularly women’s magazines) on the interests of their owners (i.e. capital) and advertisers. Women’s magazines follow market principles that cast women as consumers. Disregarding the diversity of women’s private and public lives, they address them as the aesthetic gender - attractive women who must constantly care for their appearance - and “assist” them by offering products and services through advertisements. Recently this ostensible help has been increasingly assuming the form of covert advertising. In this case readers are convinced that they are reading editorial content when in reality they are the addressees of the advertising discourse. In the past, advertising material was subject to specific visual and textual grammar codes and was mainly carefully separated from other content. In this way the average reader could easily recognize advertisements and even avoid them. However, today’s advertisements are disguised as editorial content and cannot be identified as such by the average reader.

Urša Skumavc, the author of the article Fashion presentation in women’s magazines, analyzes fashion photography in Slovenian women’s magazines and looks into the forms of fashion presentation and addressing of women readers. The magazines create the illusion of a real-life conversation through which they establish a dialogue with the women readers. In this way they arouse women’s desires and conjure up images of a possible means of transformation, thereby directing women to adopt certain patterns of consumption. The presentation of fashion fosters the idealized image of woman and the accepted norms of dress while directing and regulating the lives of women readers.