Women’s Own Magazine

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Magazines have changed and progressed over time. They started out as political bulletins aimed solely at the literate, which were upper and middle classes. When the education act was introduced in 1870 you started getting penny magazines, which were cheap stories of interest aimed at all classes as most people were now literate. Magazines gained popularity in the early 20th century as niche marketing came about and magazines were printed for specific audiences with that audience’s specific interests in mind, women’s magazines were printed for women etc. As the market for magazines grew publishing companies were founded, one of them IPC (International Publishing Corporation Ltd). IPC was formed in 1963 following the merger of the UK’s three leading magazine publishers – George Newnes, Odhams Press and Fleetway Publications each having been established in 1881, 1890 and 1880 – and now owns 20% of the magazine market.

Woman’s Own was first published in 1932 and is owned by IPC, prior to that it was owned by George Newnes alone. It was a magazine aimed solely at women and promoted their idea of an ideal woman; a housewife. The idea that women stay at home and cook and clean has slowly been abandoned since Women’s Own was first published, and so the magazine has had to adapt and change as the equal pay act was formed in 1975 and women were finally seen to have equal rights. The way that women are pictured in the magazines is called representation; the way the ideal woman was represented back then was as a housewife with a perfect happy family – nowadays they are represented as mothers and lovers that are attractive and have problems like normal people.

The front cover of the 1952 Women’s Own is simple. It has a family in the foreground, featuring the mother and her 2 children (a baby on her knee and a boy at her feet resting one elbow on the father) and the father looking lovingly at them. At the top is the name of the magazine, Women’s Own, and above that it says in block capitals ‘the national women’s weekly’ in the left top corner. In the right top corner it has the date of sale ‘on sale Thursday April 17th 1952’. Bottom left corner there is praise to the queen ‘long may she reign’. The front cover is a combination of stereotypical and traditional images.

The praise to the queen is traditional as people were more patriotic back then. The image of the family is stereotypical; it paints the image of a perfect happy family with a subservient yet beautiful wife. The front cover of the 2007 Women’s Own is more complex, it packed with eye catching phrases like ‘Viv’s Terror’, ‘shape up with the celebs’, ‘my twin is 5 years younger than me!’, ‘NOT AGAIN! Corrie’s Tracy – back with Steve’ and ‘Look 10 years younger instantly’.

They use a wider range of colours and a vivid eye catching pink. There is advertising on the front of the magazine advertising the traditional women’s gift of flowers. The images on the front are of women looking beautiful, women with children, a woman with her arms round a man and beauty products. This front cover is a more modern one. It advertises the stories within and does not have the housewife image of the old one.

The first advert I selected, from the 1952 magazine, for analysis was on page 2 and was about Kellogg’s breakfast cereal. On the advert there is a comic about a man setting of for work and just before he goes his wife gives him Kellogg’s cereal when he gets to work he is energetic from all the calories. ‘You see, his missus knows that at least a quarter of a man’s daily output must come from his 8 o’clock intake of calories’. The second advert I selected was on what was labelled page 29 and was about Wall’s ice cream. It had a father and his daughter pulling a wrapped package out of a basket of shopping as the mother hangs her coat up, obviously having done the shopping herself.

‘There’s always a rush to unpack the shopping when mother brings home Wall’s ice cream. These tell us that women were the ones who did all the housewifely duties. The first advert I selected, from the 2007 magazine, for analysis was on page 26 and was about a Jordan’s cereal bar. It had a bundle of wheat tied around the middle to represent a slim woman. ‘Slimming awards’ best cereal bar. Five years in a row’. The second advert I selected was on page 62 and was about Cleo Q, a facial treatment designed to fight the effects of ageing. In the ad there is a woman with smooth skin with labels on her face saying the different things the treatment does.

‘The new Cleo Q is totally hands free and lets you relax as it works on your face to reduce the signs if ageing and increase tone to those stubborn body areas’. The 1952 Women’s Own suggests that the role of women is to cook, clean, look after the children, shop and other housewife duties. The 2007 Woman’s Own doesn’t suggest much about women’s roles, only that they be beautiful and slim.

The articles in the 1952 Woman’s Own are all dramas and one is about the Queen. One of the dramas is about a librarian named Chris who is married to John who is a professor. ‘For the first time since her marriage, she drew no comfort from his embrace’. The article about the Queen shows her returning with the Duke of Edinburgh to London. ‘We are sure that you will want to join us in wishing many happy returns, next Monday, to Her Majesty the Queen’.

The articles in the 2007 Woman’s Own are soap operas, stories of interest, gossip and how to be thin and beautiful. One article is about a soap in which ‘Viv’ gives birth on a road side. ‘How many soap mums give birth without tears and trauma’. Another article was headed ’10 star workouts’ and was about some celebrities giving advice on how to be slim. ‘Carol’s walk-off work out’. The articles from the first magazine suggest that the role of women was to be patriotic, beautiful and religious.

The way women are represented in both magazines is very different. The way they are represented in the 1952 Women’s Own is as subservient housewives. The way they are represented in the 2007 Women’s own is as normal people who are partial towards being beautiful and slim. There is a lot of difference in the way these two views of women are portrayed; one is subservient while the other is an equal person, one is patriotic the other is gossipy, one is a housewife the other is independent. The roles of women in society have changed over the years and so the magazines have adapted to those roles.

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