Posted by: VoiceinRecovery | November 8, 2010

Women Being Picked Apart to Pieces

Dismemberment definition: is the act of cutting, tearing, pulling, wrenching or otherwise removing, the limbs of a living thing.

I subscribe to Wired because I like geeky tech stories, car innovations, multi media and software reviews, and stupid humor. I have had issues with parts of the magazine, the articles, however I recognize there is no existent magazine that is consistent in mission, tone, opinions, articles, etc. It is produced for it to sell. However as a women, who loves science and multi-media magazines, I am being brought aware that I am not their target market, and that is disappointing. Why are these magazines prominently marketed to men? Seems to feed the myth and stereotype in society that men like science, and women like fashion. Where are magazines that do not play into the gender binary roles?

Having said that – I want to discuss how this magazine could be related to body image, self-esteem, negative self talk, objectification and sexualization.

Here is a picture of the cover:


What I find unfortunate is that the magazine article talks about regenerative medicine, and is interesting for reconstruction and health in other areas, but I lost the ability to read it without a guarded eye. It simply did NOT have to have this cover.

Shelby Knox writes (Source):

If you’re a tech mag running a serious, scientific piece on tissue regeneration as it pertains to breast cancer survivors, what’s the tackiest, most sexualizing, undermining-of-the-science thing you could do? Wired magazine knows!! Put two shapely breasts on your cover — sans the owner’s head because who cares about her face or brain when you’ve got BOOBS?! — right next to the words ’100% Natural.’ Classy.

There was a follow-up by Wired with this pic:


To which the I was shocked. I found the cover distasteful. I couldn’t understand why these women wanted to do this. Even after reading about their response to the criticism, I still didn’t understand.

Does looking at these pictures of body parts picked apart create an environment where the risk is girls/women self tearing themselves apart with comments such as “I hate my thighs,” “I wish my stomach was flatter,” “I wish my boobs were bigger”??? Does looking at these pictures picking us to pieces lead to more plastic surgery of body parts? Honestly I don’t see how they can’t (Number of girls who got breast implants skyrocketed from 4,000 in 2002 to 11,000 in 2003. I recognize breast enhancement isn’t the only reason for these surgeries, I still have to question if there is something to look into with regards to these numbers). I am NOT saying the media causes anything. I believe in correlation, contributing factors, risk factors. I worry about the kids growing up now, seeing these pictures in the supermarket, even if for a few seconds. Is this sending the message that we are merely body parts that should be picked apart, separated from our whole body, and viewed in an objectified and sexualized nature? For all those people who said about the GQ magazine “well it’s parents responsibility and they shouldn’t have a GQ in their hands” I would like to say this – PARENTS are not to be blamed for a magazine being on a shelf, in a store, where the possibility exists for them to see it (even if only for 2 seconds). Our subconscious over time takes in the messages in society. We cannot say the environment and culture does not affect us in some way – we do not live in a vat.

This Wired Magazine cover is unacceptable to be in any store, without a black film cover, and I realize that is just my opinion, but I am appalled at the idea that ad campaigns continue to pick out our body parts as a selling tool. This Wired magazine cover actually made me feel more enraged than car magazines. At least they show the whole women. This picking apart of body parts is so prevalent in our society, we talk about our body parts, we are sold products for our body parts, but we are more than a single part. Studies being shared at numerous conferences (the most recent being the SPARK Summit), in research papers, thesis papers, are sharing how imagery can lead to negative self-esteem, create a sensitivity to the ideals in society, and contribute to negative body image.

Some of the Tweets from the #SPARKSummit:

  • Girls believe that self-improvement means changing their bodies, not expanding their minds”
  • I don’t want the media telling me I am just a body. I am a whole person” (student at the Summit said this)
  • Women’s bodies are not marketing tools” (15-year-old student at the Summit)
  • Sexy is not a body part for marketers to sell – it is a feeling”

The Dismemberment of Women in the Media

Girls and women are conditioned from a young age to view the body as a “work in progress” or something in constant need of alteration. Instead of being satisfied with their body as a whole, they concentrate on what separate entities they lack. Many women compare their bodies and sexuality to the eroticized images that are plastered on billboards and television and in magazines and movies (Kilbourne, 2002).

The dismemberment of women, in addition to the objectification of women, have serious repercussions including, but not limited to, body shame, appearance anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction, and eating disorders. The impossible ideal of female beauty saturates our American culture, and reparations are nothing short of dire necessity. Thus, the ambitious goal of this study is to suggest that the dismemberment of women in the media produces negative effects comparable to the negative effects of objectification. In other words, dismemberment is as equally damaging as objectification. Kacey D. Greening (Source)

This is a global issue and one we need to discuss. These messages are being portrayed in all media, in many ad campaigns, and covers of magazines our children can see. We need to be media literate, and discuss these concerns with our pre-teens. Ask them – how does this make you feel? What messages do you think it is saying?

In conclusion I want to FIGHT these messages that we are mere body parts!

  • We are whole people, with a body, mind and spirit
  • Our body parts are not for sale – and if you do then I would like a portion of the proceeds from the cars, plastic surgery you are selling
  • We have faces and names; as well as talents, strengths, weaknesses, achievements and all of which have nothing to do with what we look like
  • I refuse to not call out ads on this
  • We need to continue to inspire, empower, and give girls (and boys) the ability to challenge what is seen in the media, and fuel their self-esteem, show them their abilities, and discuss such things as self talk, body image, self acceptance, size acceptance, HAES, and more!
  • Explore what you can do to create and change the conversation with media literacy, advocacy and action; if you are tired of seeing this over and over in society, find a way to take action, reach out to organizations, look into workshops, conferences, education, etc.
  • Follow the activists, Actionists, and people creating a revolution about challenging these messages – On Twitter start with the hashtags #SPARKchange and #SPARKSummit for many wonderful people to follow and get inspired by
  • We need to empower people to recognize they have a voice, they have the ability to be their greatest advocate for change

What about you? Does this enrage you at all? Do you know of magazines that foster intelligence, positive self esteem, self acceptance, body image?


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Responses

  1. This is a really fantastic piece. I had not seen this cover and am shocked that editors would choose something like this to promote their article… but perhaps I shouldn’t be, given the climate we live in. I honestly agree that I have yet to find a mainstream magazine that is consitent in sending a message of inclusion and healthy body image. This is not to demonize all magazines. I think we all struggle in being consistent in this way (i.e. engaging in fat talk at times), but it makes it even more important to be mindful of what we’re reading and use media literacy skills. Thanks for bringing this to light.

    • Thank you so much Ashley! I was extremely nervous and sat on this for weeks. I share openly on twitter my opinions and discuss media literacy a lot, but it is a newer topic to my blog. I want to branch out more, and just had a lot of insecurity on whether my words were valid, thought out, opening a dialogue etc. I appreciate your words.

      I don’t demonize all magazines either, of course inconsistency is a part of it, but I think I am getting really frustrated with binary gender roles and the way we are being advertised to. I saw this magazine and literally flipped a cork 🙂

  2. Kendra, thank you for this excellent piece. Everything you wrote about disembodied, dismembered women, the sexualization, the magazine covers being the urban wallpaper my little kids see when we are at the grocery store, or social collective conscious….all of it was spot on.

    I agree with you, this magazine cover screamed “BOOBS!” to the male readers they wanted to draw in, as opposed to “SCIENCE!” to the readers they already had.

    Excellent post!

    • Thank you Melissa. I had hoped I had covered some of the topics of concern in this topic. I really got mad when people started blaming parents for seeing magazines, but like you say – it is urban wallpaper you will see everywhere. It is important to bring these topics to light so that people see the big picture and concern on the messages being sent, a picture is worth a thousand words. 🙂

  3. This absolutely enrages me! In my women’s studies courses we used to see slideshow after slideshow of advertisements that use only pieces or parts of women’s bodies for marketing purposes. And I agree; while I hate the use of women’s bodies in general for these purposes, I REALLY hate the use of merely PARTS of them.

    As someone who struggles with a warped relationship with my body, I am particularly upset to see women’s bodies picked apart like this. In my mind, the ad is sending the same message that ED sends: that I am only as good as my physical parts. A large part of my healing process has been challenging that message, and instead taking care of my whole self in a holistic way.

    • I am glad it enraged you as well! I think I threw the magazine and wanted to smack something. I honestly found myself more mad at these parts in ad campaigns, because it does fuel are thinking about body image. We may already do this on a neuro level in perception and how we process imagery, and these campaigns really fuel the fire. I am sick of accepting and not bringing a mirror to these ads and sharing them with others to discuss how they make us feel, and looking at what we can do.

  4. […] in the same ways that frustrate us when the media does it. I love the assessments made in the Voice in Recovery post, and assuredly agree that the media fails all of us when it reduces women to their breasts or […]

  5. Excellent post. Thank you for writing exactly what I was feeling when i saw this cover, which my husband subscribes to so I had already seen this cover weeks ago. He showed me but at the time I just thought, yep there it is again, of course it has to have boobs on it to keep the men looking at it? I agree, I love the tech stories and the tidbits of information out there to discover, but this really did go to far. My 15-year old saw it and thought it was horrendous as well, which makes me feel good, like she is getting the world in which we live in and it shouldn’t be like that. However, I hope that she has the gumption to stand up and say something, unlike her mother who acts in a passive/aggressive way, just waiting for great posts like this one to bring it to light. Thank you so much, keep up the great work!

    • Thank you so much Candice. I had been sitting on this post for weeks. I have a subscription as well and was beyond furious when I received it. They have always marketed to men, but I was able to look past that for the most part. This cover went TOO far. I am glad you liked this post and could relate! I am so happy your 15 yr old thought it was awful as well!!! Thank you for sharing your voice.

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RevolutionOfRealWmen, RevolutionOfRealWmen, Jenn Sternecker, Elin Stebbins Waldal, Dr. Ashley Solomon and others. Dr. Ashley Solomon said: Wonderful post by @VoiceinRecovery on issues of disembodiment and #medialiteracy. http://fb.me/HYqgFaWk […]

  7. Simply awful – as many of my fellow commenters have said. WHAT ON EARTH were they thinking? Oh – correction – they were thinking with the ‘lower head’ and not the upper, obviously.

    As if women NEEDED another reason to look at themselves in the mirror and dislike what they see there…is this supposed to be an “Ideal” set of breasts?

    Trying to encourage women to love who and what they see in the mirror each day – in a healthy and self-affirming way – gets harder when crap like this is on the newsstand and sitting in people’s mailboxes.

    Shaking my head in sorrow and anger…

  8. Great piece, thanks. I hadn’t seen that cover yet and now will know to avoid it. I really really really hate that shit.

    I have found that it is very very hard to get outside sexism using your thoughts. The greatest relief I have found is in yoga and swimming, two activities that allow me to experience my body from the inside out, as wonderful creations that convey sensation, to me, for me.

    Thanks again for the excellent post.

    • Thank you for sharing! I too have found things like pilates, and walking, help me connect with my whole body and helps me feel better, healthier, and more mindful of thoughts 🙂

  9. Kendra, fantastic, fantastic post! Thank you for writing about this. One of the irritating parts about this is that I feel like we can’t get away from objectification – it even shows up in magazines about seemingly neutral subjects like technology!

    I totally agree with you on the parental issue, too. It isn’t a parent’s fault that their child sees a cover like this, because, hellooo, it’s everywhere, probably in any bookstore, too (and maybe even in grocery stores). I think it’s disgusting. I can’t even imagine what kinds of covers and stories we’ll be reading in 30 years from now.

    • Thank you! I was terribly nervous about this post. Have been working on, adjusting, tweaking, and holding for weeks now. I too worry about where we will be in 30 years. People say – oh its no big deal, because it has become a cultural norm. But this norm I feel is unacceptable. People aren’t often seeing the bigger picture, or don’t care, or don’t think they can do anything about it. I feel it has to change by us demanding change and promoting positive magazines, messages, campaigns.

  10. I addressed this issue earlier this year: “Beverly Hills ‘Surgeons to the Stars’ tout Frankenstein-style body-parts list” (video) http://exm.nr/aqn8ms

    • Thank you for the link! It is upsetting how much plastic surgery is being driven by us viewing ourselves in parts that people think need to be changed 😦

  11. awesome post. i hate that cover!

  12. Definitely write more about media literacy! I abhore it when magazines and newspapers throw in sexist shit, especially when it’s even more irrelevant than usual, so thanks for this. I recently wrote a piece about the sexist misrepresentation of scientific studies for Siren Magazine, if you’re interested? http://www.siren-magazine.org/more-than-just-a-pretty-face

  13. Thanks for your really interesting post. While at Uni some 18 years ago I wrote a report on the sexualisation of women in comics, magazines and newspapers. Seems that with your examples it has escalated even more since then into a usually respected science arena. Overcoming gender stereotypes is something we all have to deal with every day, man or woman. Let’s keep at it for the sake of our children. Keep up the good work @voiceinrecovery

  14. I did a double-take to see what this magazine was, and was surprised that it was Wired Magazine. You see this kind of garbage all the time, especially if you live in Los Angeles, and are stuck driving on Sunset Boulevard.
    I’m sorry, I didn’t get to read other people’s comments, so I don’t know if I’m being repetitive. I think the biggest issue is not just the dismemberment, and the body part these people choose to display, it’s that the female body is used for sexual display, and the notion of sexuality does not exist unless the female body, or now her body parts, are present. The female body is presented as something existing for male enjoyment, and the embodiment of sexuality, as if there is nothing sexual about the male body.

    I’m very glad that someone is writing about this, actually that more and more people are writing about this from this point-of-view, as opposed to the nonsense about parents controlling what their kids see, or that people complaining are just personally offended, and other weak arguments from those who can’t see the bigger picture and make connections to things really happening in the world. The correlation between what the media present and how people behave is too strong too ignore.

  15. i am enraged by this! i would love to find a “normal” magazine that picture real women, but sadly, i have yet to stumble upon one.

  16. T h a n k s for this informative news…….
    i have shared it with my network hope it would be useful to them too…


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