Mags: Who's body image ideals

Glossy Talk: Who's take on body image

So, generally I think what Nicky Briger and the Who magazine team pull together each week is a quality glossip magazine. All things considered, the reportage is less reliant on hearsay than other titles, less bitchy and the human interest element keeps it from being overly superficial.

But when I saw the cover of The Body Issue, on sale today, I wanted to throw it against a wall. While not nearly as grotesquely offensive as the National Enquirer's '50 Best and Worst Beach Bodies' cover, putting airbrushed Jodhi Meares and Jodi Gordon on the cover, albeit with a glowing Vanessa Amarosi and muscle-bound Tom Williams, to my mind, is not a great thing for women. It's irresponsible.

Meares in particular is problematic. Having given up her job running Tigerlily, she tells the magazine she now exercises for at least three hours a day: "I probably exercise for about three hours a day during the week, more on the weekend. What else are you going to do? Go to lunch? That's just sitting around, and I get bored with too much conversation. I'd prefer to be moving around."

Now, how Meares chooses to spend her days is not my business. When I was in the doldrums of eating disorder, I spent more than a few unproductive hours taming my anxiety beast with workouts and didn't particularly enjoy talking to anyone. But (alarm bells!) this is a lot of time to spend killing calories when you're a non-athlete and already very slim.

Unfortunately, this sort of obsessive exercising is so normalised now – by the likes of Madonna, Gwyneth, Jennifer Aniston, all those muscle-bound actresses in Valentine's Day and shows like The Biggest Loser – that we barely blink an eyelid when someone confesses to such a regime of body maintenance. But no one mentions the side-effects of what this does to your body – infertility, osteoporosis, repetitive stress injuries, etc. – let alone the stress it puts on your relationships and your inability to progress in other areas of your life.

Sometimes we sigh with relief knowing just how hard these people have to work out; but other times we feel peeved because, with them in the media spotlight representing "women", how are we ever to live up to these ideals when we have, you know, jobs, families, house work, jury duty, social engagements and other things to attend to? As Tina Fey put it so wittily to Vogue: "Maybe it just starts a shame cycle: I'm never going to look like that model, so…Chicken McNuggets it is!"

I'm not angry with Meares. I feel sorry for her. I can relate to her. But I am miffed that Who is putting her out there as someone for women to gaze at and aspire to – particularly ones in her age group (she is 39) – when her lifestyle and her body is clearly unattainable for most.

No, women aren't stupid enough to think that they HAVE to look like her. But let's not ignore the evidence, either: The magazine's own body image survey revealed that only 23% of women are happy with the way they look, most are "insecure" about their bodies and women are three times more likely to avoid sex because they feel fat. What part does Who play here?

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

15 comments:

Julie said...

Oh NO! No! This is just so incredibly disappointing. I honestly don't know what else to say.

caitlinmay said...

funny, i thought the same thing when i walked past the cover in the supermarket. i picked up the issue to read meahres' interview; and was more than a little disappointed to read her '3 hours of exercise a day' claim. 3 hours of exercise a day is realistic for athletes - i trained 4 hours a day as a swimmer - but it shouldn't be promoted as normal or something normal, everyday women should be working toward. it's also easily at odds with the idea of balance and moderation.

Anonymous said...

I could not agree with you more about meares. Now we understand why packer packed the pounds after they left casue she finally let him eat!! Crazy as there is very little women in her age group doing that... She needs a life

Em said...

Meares is definitely wrong regarding going to lunch. There is nothing better than going to lunch with your girlfriends on the weekend. The conversations we have nurture my soul and help fill some of the emptiness.

Anonymous said...

To her credit, she does have an amazing body.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness we have you GWAS, to publicise the horrible editorial decisions of glossies! WHO could be doing a lot of damage to many women's psyche by publishing this issue!!

NatWebster said...

Jodhi Meares is gorgeous and clearly works hard for the body, but I agree it's hard to suggest she should be a role model any more than a pin thin 18 year old with a metabolism off the charts.

Personally, I'm more disappointed about the continued use of Jodi Gordon as something to aspire to. Because if you look pretty and have a trim waistline it's ok to indulge in narcotics and hang around known organised crime figures?for absolute shame Who.

I agree that Vanessa Amorosi looks luminous and I'm always happy to see Tom with his shirt off!

RockafellaSkank said...

Please tell me that they also have some more realistic shapes and sizes included in The 'Body' Issue because I refuse to buy it on the basis of the cover alone...

Perhaps I am being too judgemental and it won't only feature Miranda Kerr and Jennifer Hawkins and the like. Do we (for example) get to see a bikini-clad Magda Szubanski, or anyone with a less-than-perfect body? Or... anyone who has to work 8-10hrs a day to pay the mortgage and can't fit in 3 hours of exercise during the week?!

Anonymous said...

I believe it was good that Jodhi Meares mentioned how much exercise she does because it shows the reader that an insane amount of time goes into achieving that body. What i found alarming was Jodhi Gordan's commenting that she has fat days. Yes honest but should that really be printed. She is super slim and i believe that it is more likely to bring down the average Jane.
I admit that i do like to know what these celebs eat, exercise and what their guilty pleasures are, given that they are actually being honest which we will never know.

Krystal said...

The inside of the magazine has an athletic Lisa Curry, recently lost 18KGs Dicko,a curvy and proud Christine Anu, pre and post pregnancy bodies and Jodi and Jodhi who despite being models are fitness fanatics are more than entitled to represent the more petite section of society. I happen to think it was a great issue.

To NatWebster: Jodi Gordon has had ONE public incident and has never been allowed to say anything to defend herself. What's the alternative message, shun her completely and have everyone think that once you put a foot wrong you should never be allowed to turn your life around? Far worse message if you ask me.

Holly said...

I picked up Who in the supermarket today, read the cover quotes and put it back. So Jodi 'still has fat days'? Someone with a body like that, who is paid to pose in her underwear proclaiming she occasionally feels fat? How am I supposed to feel?!
Who lost a sale there.

Celeste said...

Meares has never looked this skinny, I feel sorry for her also! She is a beautiful woman who had an unbelievably gorgeous body - now she just looks ill (and gaunt). How could WHO put this on the cover as a body to aspire to?! Poor girl, I'm pretty sure that a 'how i recovered from my exercise hell' story will follow shortly... Or 'a gaunt and lonely Meares wasting away' story, likely by Grazia.

Anonymous said...

Vanessa Amorosi look's amazing. 2010 is her year.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your opinion. Harmful and irresponsible. Lets move away from all the celebrity comparisons. Its unrealistic and crazy.
Don't mean to be a bitch but Jodie Meares sounds so boring.

Donna Song said...

It's really sad to see how much pressure people fall into. Being skinny is no longer a health issue, rather it is an issue of insecurity. Because of the extreme measures that are taken, many are inducing health issues on to themselves.

I remember a previous blog you wrote where there was an interview with a model who said she was much happier because she was eating and she was healthy. I can't imagine how "skipping lunch" with friends instead of exercising for 3 hours, which at most times is done in solitude, will bring joy.