Every month, I like to check the cover of women’s magazines and compare them to their male equivalents. Especially the title giants, Women’s Health vs Men’s Health.
Women get: Sofia Vergara (who said she ‘hated working out’ in another article – yet appeared recently on the front cover of Womens Health!! What?!), Jennifer Hawkins, Miranda Kerr, Actresses, models, socialites.
See the difference? The male figures are healthily aspirational: ‘Hey you, regular man! This guy is ripped you can be too! Here are bbq recipes and heavy weights you can lift!’ Many of these athletes came from adversity and worked very, very hard to get themselves to the top.
The women’s figures are unhealthily un-aspirational, genetically blessed, unbelievably thin, and photoshopped to within an inch of their lives, often without a muscle to be seen. They are also stupidly, unnattainably beautiful. How is this making any woman feel better about themselves?
After many years of exercise and buying these publications, I have decided on a ranking for the current ones in circulation:
Runners World – the authority on awesome fitness information in Australia
- Runners World – An absolutely fantastic, unisex running magazine that also regularly includes other exercises that complement running. They also recommend clothes and shoes, and often include inspiring stories about regular people who have achieved extraordinary things. They also regularly talk about the mental side of exercise, and have long, interesting articles about all aspects of the health and fitness world. The only drawback of this awesome magazine is that some of the stats are taken directly from the American publication and aren’t changed for an Australian audience.
- Oxygen Mag – This is a very fitness focused read, and has information for women wanting to not only get fit and healthy, but also to tone their body and perhaps compete in figure competitions. However the information is still relevant for every day life even if the competitive arena isn’t for you.
- Women’s Fitness – A happy, friendly magazine that’s like the girl next door. She’s peppy and gives you a lift. This read dissects fads respectfully and recommends new treatments with insightful articles. A breath of fresh air.
- Women’s Health – For what it’s called, there’s not much health in it (‘health’ even ranks after ‘sex’ in its description!!) Interviews models and rich people about how they stay fit, and pages upon pages of makeup and fashion recommendations. With the current renaissance of women’s sports, it’s disappointing to see models and actresses on the cover month after month.
- Women’s Health and Fitness – A waste of money. Like Women’s Health lite. This is an odd revelation because I remember it being more like Oxygen Mag a few years back. There is nothing unique about this publication that you cannot obtain from the others. The only good thing about this mag is that the cover models are usually pretty diverse.
When I have bought Men’s Health (frequently I have chosen it over Women’s Health) I have enjoyed it thoroughly. Men can get ripped, enjoy a burger and a beer and enjoy life. In comparison, women are meant to be sex-crazy hornbags who wear lipstick to the gym and revitalise their vaginas on a regular basis (Women! Sort yourselves out!).
The problem with these magazines is also that they try to be something that they aren’t: an authority on health and fitness. If you look at trash magazines like NW or Women’s Day – they know what they are and they stick to it. Trash is trash. You don’t see these magazines trying to be classy, trash sells and they know it.
Whereas with many women’s ‘health’ magazines, they focus on one type of woman. The make-up loving, husband searching, wine addicted nymphomaniac who has no other interesting personality traits (the way they introduce topics – such as politics – is downright insulting).
Print will flounder against social if they cannot set themselves apart, and all of the pathetically churned out information from WH or WHF could have been taken from Cosmopolitans ancient ‘how embarrassing’ section that, as a 14 year old, is fun to read, but as a 30 year old, the embarrassment is transferred back to the magazine that had to resort to wasting precious space in their publication printing this.
It absolutely shits me that the current cover of Men’s Health Australia is Lance Franklin, champion AFL footy player and supreme athlete, and the current cover of Women’s Health Australia is Jennifer Hawkins, a model. Come on! We are in the renaissance of women’s sport and we can’t get an AFL player like the Crows’ Erin Phillips or superstar of the Matilda’s Sam Kerr? Why?
Buddy Franklin on the cover of Men’s Health, and Jennifer Hawkins on the cover of Women’s Health, October 2017
Look at the language difference between these two. Men’s Health – to the point, hey we’ve been around 20 years, we’re the best for fitness and health – nice. Women’s Health ’10 years of Fitspiration!’ in flowery font. It’s condescending. I do not want ‘fitspo’ – I want to know more about the fitness and health industry and what workouts are best for me!
The actual purpose of these magazines also seem to be different, for men, it is simply to get fit, look good, feel good and be more confident. For women it is *takes breath* how to be great at sex; how to look YOUNGER; how to have perfect abs; how to HAVE IT ALL; how to lose cellulite forever!; how to be the absolute perfect woman in every possible way and not drop dead from exhaustion! Oh wait, they don’t include that.
There’s more sex in women’s magazines then there is in men’s! How does that make sense? When I find a fitness magazine that has no sex in it (which thankfully, Women’s Fitness doesn’t) I am absolutely praising, because it’s just so refreshing not to read yet another article on ’30 different ways to please him with your mouth’
Overall, I want more female athletes, more women’s sports teams featured, more elite runners and athletics champions, and more stories of overcoming adversity (eg: ‘I lost 50 kilos now I’m a marathon runner!’). Stop treating female readers like morons.
I do not want to see what a frankly underweight, no-muscle definition waif has for breakfast. I do not care. I want to see what champions eat. I want to know how champions train, and I want those champions to be women.