I was recently travelling and spent quite a few unscheduled hours in an airport. I decided to go for a stroll and have a look around the bookstore and newsagent shop. I browsed through the women's magazine section and was quickly reminded why I had stopped buying and reading these magazines quite a few years ago. Upon looking I was greeted by a woman who was dressed in a way to wear as little clothing as possible so she could advertise her body parts. I could feel there was a strong push in this image for the woman to be seen and recognised for her body parts alone and not for the woman she is, and attached to this was a deep sense of sadness.
Nearly all of the magazines had these depictions of women; a sensationalised and unreal focus towards the exterior with no connection to who the real woman was in front of me.
The magazines not only depicted women in this way but also took great pleasure in highlighting how they looked, dissecting parts of their body with close ups of the slightest blemish or irregularity they could find.
It felt like most magazines seemed to either depict women in an unattainable ideal of what the perfect woman should look like or as these magazines did, in a highly derogatory and scathing manner.
While reading the headlines, 'Christmas isn't the same without a man' and 'I thought I'd have a baby by now' and 'How to drop two dress sizes in two weeks'; I deeply felt the extent of the level of pressure that women face today. I was bombarded with ideals and images of what a 'real' woman 'looks' like. The perfect size ten with a perfectly proportioned body, at least one child, a successful career and a hunky husband. Every single one of the women’s magazines I saw focused on how I could change, improve and alter myself to live up to the impossibility of thesefalsely created ideals.
These headlines for many might be written off as harmless nonsense, as I have done in the past by switching off to them and paying very little attention to this side of the media and publishing. But while reading the headlines I realised the importance of engaging with what these magazines represent to women and being clued up into what is really going on out there. It certainly doesn't go away by ignoring it and by pretending it doesn't exist.
By ignoring the reality of women being grossly misrepresented through media publishing I am certainly colluding and allowing the harm it causes to continue.
So how can we bring about change? I have come to realise that true change can only come about through living and being that change myself. As Gandhi said 'Be the change that you want to see in the world'.
Over the last few years I have had the great pleasure of being inspired by some amazing women who are living and being that change. Who are questioning the ideals that we as women perpetrate between each other and the ideals that society has imposed on us. Ideals that keep us on a continual wheel of comparison and competition, setting our goals against what another woman has achieved.
I have come to realise that what defines me as a woman comes from within. It is a quality of being that cannot be bought or acquired but only connected to. It is how I celebrate the gorgeousness of who I am in the way I connect to my arms and my hips when I walk and the gracefulness that they love to express, the tenderness of my finger tips and the tone of my voice that invites another to openly express themselves too.
One young woman in particular is a beacon of light and is living this change. Natalie Benhayon who is Editor in chief of the Women in Livingness Magazine is bringing true beauty, love and sass to the world of women's publishing. Women in Livingness is truly a breath of fresh air, here is a magazine that actually celebrates women for who they naturally are.
We are already beautiful, playful and nurturing as we are. It is full of articles celebrating this and supporting women to connect to their true selves and live from this in their daily lives. It is really ground breaking stuff! From articles on relationships, which focus on your relationship with yourself first and foremost, building love for yourself before you can truly love another and a beautiful piece on developing trust and openness in relationships through commitment and expression. This is a far cry from the desperation and neediness that so many women's magazines can promote.
Is the face of women’s magazines being changed forever? For me, Women in Livingness feels like the first steps in women reclaiming our natural true beauty that comes from within inspired by some amazing women who certainly walk the talk.
I look forward to the day when I am browsing the shelves of the airport newsagents to see Women in Livingness magazine’s shining bright for all women to read and enjoy.