Why “Hot” Women are on the Cover of Women’s AND Men’s Magazines

Every time I stop at a magazine rack, my brain is blasted with images of very sexy women in bikinis. Interestingly, it’s not just men’s magazines; both men’s and women’s magazines have sexy women on the cover. Now, please understand, this is okay with me; I like looking at attractive, well tanned women in bikinis-turns out that  while most women don’t feel good about seeing these women on the cover, these are the best images to have on the cover of women’s magazines from a marketing and revenue perspective.

First, let’s cover something that Dr. Kevin Hogan so often points out, and that so many people seem to forget; the primary purpose of ANY business is to make a profit…period. Unless that is happening, it matters very little how altruistic the “mission” of a business may be, or in how many ways they want to change the world. Truth is, whatever the mission or goal, it will be accomplished more quickly and on a much grander scale, when the business is making a profit.

With that being said, magazine editors are doing exactly what they should be doing, regarding the gender of their models on the glossy cover page. In my Ph.D. program, I’m always excited when new research based on brain imaging comes out. Much of the subjectivity is stripped away, and we get close-very close-to the truth when we use this kind of technology.

A neuroscientist at Brigham Young University, Mark Allen, used fMRI brain scans to prove that there was no difference in how the brain of a healthy woman and the brain of bulemic women reacted when it was suggested that they were overweight. The articles that are written in these magazines are designed, primarily, to infer that a woman is overweight. Why? To SELL things, of course. We now know that the brains of women are literally “hardwired” to have body image concerns and worries, and savvy marketers are utilizing this fact, not only on the cover of the magazine, but throughout the pages inside as well.

So, what did Dr. Allen find? While using the fMRI machines to conduct the scans, thin women were asked to view images of other women-some overweight, and others very lean and fit. As they looked at the images, they were told to think about someone else telling them that the model they were viewing looked like they did.

When, the images of the “heftier” or overweight women were shown, the pre-frontal cortex of these thin women, lit up like a Christmas tree. The simple act of thinking about the fact that they might be overweight-even in a pretend situation-caused women to question their identity and sense of who they were, even though they claimed that this was not the case. The fMRI tells the story much more accurately than the women did with their  conscious and verbal explanations.

Not too surprisingly (to me), men could care less whether the image of men they were asked to look at was fat or thin; the fMRI showed no difference in brain activity.

In short, magazine publishers make the millions and millions of dollars they generate, by using a hard wired fear that most women have about body image, and exploiting it with pictures and articles that suggest they are too heavy.

Why do they put women on the front of men’s magazines? Do you really have to ask?

It’s funny, growing up, anytime I heard someone talk about “Playgirl” magazine, images danced through my mind of gorgeous women secretly harboring this magazine so they could feast their eyes on the latest naked male celebrity. How wrong I was; little did I know (and most still don’t) that “Playgirl” magazine was designed for gay men…NOT women.

Nothing is an accident in marketing, these days.

Men and women: equal rights? Yes. Equal brain structure and function? Afraid not.

Women will continue to look at the fitness model and feel some level of inferiority…thus buying some product or service, and men will continue to look at the fitness model and ….slobber…and buy some product or service. It’s really as simple as that.

© Copyright 2010-Vincent Harris-All Rights Reserved.

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