I recently came across a side-by-side photo of two magazines-Boys’ Life and Girls’ Life-with shockingly different covers. Although we have already covered sexist magazine ads and one thing we can agree on is that they send out a wrong message, many don’t realize that it’s the content published on these magazines that sometimes have far worse consequences than a sexist image.
The photo I came across shows the ‘Girls’ Life Magazine’ with headlines stating, “Your Dream Hair” and “Wake Up Pretty!”. The ‘Boys’ Life’ magazine on the other hand, show a large headline stating: “EXPLORE YOUR FUTURE”, accompanied by a list of job opportunities for boys: “Astronaut? Artist? Firefighter?”
How is it that, in the 21st century, magazines can spread male empowerment but simultaneously degrade girls by belittling their standards? This photo raises major issues and highlight exactly what is wrong with the portrayal of women in media. Why are we still stuck on this back-warded mentality that we associate women with superficial things like make-up and overall physical attractiveness, and men with hard work, career, and strength? Girls and women are better than that. We are more than our make-up, hair, and clothes. These magazines are deliberately forcing girls to worry about their hair and the way they look in the morning, rather than motivating them towards career-goals. Aside from completely opposite headlines on the two magazine covers, the Girls’ Life magazine features a young girl with make-up on and beach curls. The Boys’ Life magazine on the other hand, features no photo of a male, but include career images like a police badge, a firefighter hat, a microscope, etc.
Sadly, we can’t force these magazines to stop producing sexist content like this. However, what we can do—both boys and girls, men and women, is to refuse buying magazines that spread messages of inequality, sexism, and overall patriarchy.