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Airbrushed Nation: The Lure and Loathing of Women's Magazines Paperback – October 30, 2012


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Airbrushed Nation: The Lure and Loathing of Women's Magazines + Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors + Inarticulate Longings: The Ladies' Home Journal, Gender and the Promise of Consumer Culture
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press (October 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580054137
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580054133
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,090,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jennifer Nelson has been writing for women's magazines for nearly fifteen years. She's written hundreds of articles on health, wellness, relationships, pop culture, pets, and travel for practically every chick slick on the stands, including Woman’s Day, Ladies’ Home Journal, Family Circle, Cosmo, O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, Women’s Health, Fitness, and Self. When she's not writing for women, she contributes to The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Reader’s Digest, Parade, USA Weekend, Prevention, Parents, Parenting, AARP, WebMD, and MSNBC.

Nelson teaches Stiletto Boot Camp, a course on women’s magazine writing, at Mediabistro.com. She also speaks about and offers workshops on women’s magazine writing at writing conferences around the country. She is a bona fide women’s glossy magazine junkie.

More About the Author

Jennifer Nelson has written hundreds of articles for the women's magazines over the past fifteen years. She's written on health, wellness, relationships, pop culture, pets and travel for practically every chick slick on the stands including Woman's Day, Ladies' Home Journal, Family Circle, Cosmo, O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, Women's Health, Fitness, Self and most of the others.

When she's not writing for and about women, she contributes to The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Reader's Digest, Parade, USA Weekend, WebMD, MSNBC, Prevention, Parents, Parenting and AARP.

Nelson speaks and holds workshops at events and conferences around the country. She is a bona fide women's glossy magazine junkie.

Customer Reviews

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See all 9 customer reviews
After reading this book, I now laugh when I see the perfume strips in magazines.
Sharon A. Waldrop
She suggests taking a sabbatical from magazines to asses how they make you feel and to pinpoint the good, the bad and the ugly.
Ashley Nicole
I am still reading, but so far I love her style and will no doubt recommend this to many people.
Jan G

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kelly JamesEnger on October 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like author Jennifer Nelson, I was a women's magazine junkie. When I started freelancing, I broke in with women's and fitness mags, and was thrilled to see my name in print in some of my favorite magazines. As time went on, though, I began to question some of the work I was doing, and the editorial process overall. Airbrushed Nation captures the conundrum I (and many other freelancers) face--is it worth it to write for magazines that exist mainly to make women feel bad about themselves (or at least make them believe that they must improve themselves)? But the book goes beyond that question and exposes what really goes on behind the scenes, both good (educating women about important health and social issues, and encouraging them to pursue their goals and dreams) and bad (e.g., the emphasis on external beauty and its pursuit). Whether you love women's magazines, write for them, or simply want to know more about this powerful media influence, Airbrushed Nation is an eye-opening, smart, entertaining read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By True Crime Buff on November 5, 2012
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When I was in my 20s I looked forward to picking up my copy of Cosmo every month. I did the quizzes, read about how to become irresistible to men and followed the suggested beauty tips with religious fervor. Then, in my 30s and entering motherhood, I switched from Cosmo to Women's Day and Family Circle. My forties widened the door to Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal, with a touch of More thrown in for good measure. And one day, like everyone else who reads these magazines, I discovered that they said the same things over and over and over again. How to walk off the weight; how to please your man; how to get one in the first place; how to raise healthy, confident kids; etc, etc. Over time, the long narrative stories involving women who were a lot like me gave way to celebrity worship and information presented in little bits and bites as if I were too stupid to remain interested in anything longer than 300 words. The clothes were always out of reach (Hey editors, do you really think the average soccer mom is paying $695 for a dress to wear to the office????) and the women were all flawless: No wrinkles, no frizzy hair, no midriff bulge, perfect teeth -- the whole nine yards of perfection. I finally figured out that the whole genre of women's magazines were really fairy tales in disguise. This book by Jennifer Nelson dissects the women's mag industry and confirms what any thinking woman has suspected for years: It's all smoke and mirrors. And very, very sexist, but in a way that makes it look like they're really feminists. I loved reading this and was particularly fascinated at how they manipulate photos. The little boxed asides are witty and interesting, too. It's one of those books that will make you read your favorite magazine from a completely different point of view, and a mesmerizing read that will keep you riveted from beginning to end. I suggest on ordering take-out before you open this book because you won't want to stop once you start.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Roberts on January 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In the late 1950's, my first encounter with women's magazines was my grandmother's McCall's. In the late '60's I began reading Teen and Seventeen, moving on to the "seven sisters" described by the author. The long fictional stories and informative articles gave way to a predictable monthly fare of diet, relationship, fashion, beauty and recipe bytes. Not realizing why, I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me after reading an issue. Was I thin enough? Was I beautiful enough? Was I doing enough to keep my marriage happy? Was I preparing healthy, appetizing meals? Was I ignoring potential deadly hazards in my home or neighborhood? Was I a good mother? Jennifer Nelson peels back the layers and reveals fuzzy line between editors and advertisers as they manipulate women by instilling insecurities about themselves, knowing that they will be more likely to buy diet aids, beauty products and the latest fashions advertised in the magazine. From truth in advertising to the feminine fear factor this in depth book is a must read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sharon A. Waldrop on December 26, 2012
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Like the author, I started out reading Tiger Beat and Young Miss and considered myself a magazine junkie by the time I was 12. I then graduated to Teen, then Seventeen. I waited until I turned 17 before reading Seventeen. I purchased the bridal magazines when I got married (both times), and let the pages of Cosmo dictate my life until my first baby was born and my life was run by Parents, Parenting, American Baby, and Mothering. Now I have one teenager still at home and my three oldest children are adults and I find myself reading Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, MORE, and AARP as I reached the big 50. After reading this book, I now laugh when I see the perfume strips in magazines. I am a big fan of Dove's real woman advertising compaign and glad to see it mentioned more than once in this book. Although I am and always will be a magazine junkie, I have a problem with the unrealistic look of the models in the magazines, and think that airbrushing is a shameful act. Everyone who reads women's magazines will see them differently and make more educated purchasing choices if they read this book. Great job!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By christina m. parker on January 10, 2013
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I bought this book expecting an academic work that would provide new, unbiased and peer-reviewed information. However, the author presents nothing new, simply citing others' studies, and using single issues of particular magazines to support her points.
Yes, women's magazines exist to sell products. Yes, the cover photos are photoshopped and airbrushed and not realistic. Yes, models are young and beautiful and thin. Yes, articles are composed in order to see the products featured in adjacent pages.
The book is disorganized and poorly edited. The misspellings and grammatical errors are distracting, as is the section of the book in which she inexplicably sprinkles her prose with vulgarities. In another section, she claims editors of women's magazines are, for the most part, liberals. To support this premise, she points to one interviewer's statement that a conservative candidate handed out anti-Obama bumper stickers. She also lumps Ms. magazine in with the likes of Glamour, Marie Claire and others of that ilk.
The bottom line is that I was disappointed. I expected a scholarly tome, and got Tiger Beat. I guess the book would be suitable for a high school summer reading list, but it should not be taken seriously.
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