Girl magazines as postfeminist domain?
Girls’ magazines play an important role in the maintenance of gender perceptions and the creation of gender by young girls. A recent study in Media and Communication explores the shared norms and values related to gender as well as the presence of a postfeminist themes in popular girls’ magazines.
- Girls’ magazines discuss topics from a feminist as well as an anti-feminist perspective, thereby enacting a postfeminist vantage point in their reporting.
- The topics in which this postfeminist sensibility is present include the body, sex, male and female relationships, female empowerment, and self-reflexivity of the reader.
- The magazines encourage their girl readers to be self-aware, self-monitoring and self-critical. The readers are supposed to constantly work towards perfecting themselves on all terrains included in the magazines.
The three most popular girls magazines in the Netherlands, Fashionchick, Cosmogirl, and Girlz (N = 27 editions, from 2018).
The researchers conducted a thematic analysis on 27 editions of the popular girls’ magazines Fashionchick, Cosmogirl, and Girlz. The thematic analysis was informed by the idea of a postfeminist sensibility as proposed by Rosalind Gill (2007b, 2016).
Facts and findings
- The body, body acceptance, and ways to perfect the body are dominant features in girls’ magazines
- The magazines suggest that sex should be pleasurable for both partners, but in terms of contraceptives they put the responsibility with the female readers
- Female empowerment is also a dominant theme in the magazines. The role models the magazines provide are all part of the entertainment industry.
- Magazines present women as active subjects and mostly objectify men, except when they have a “feminine” occupation.
- Girls are given various tools, such as quizzes, to self-reflexively work on perfecting themselves.