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