Advertising and the Technology of Enchantment: The Portrayal of Beauty in Women's Fashion Magazines

Brian Moeran

    Research output: Working paperResearch

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    The primary contents of women’s fashion magazines are fashion, beauty and health. This paper sets out to explore the ways in which international fashion magazines such as Elle, Vogue and Marie Claire portray feminine beauty in textual and advertising matter and how their readers react to such portrayals. Beauty is analysed as grooming practice, and make-up as the prime symbol of the self and its many facets in social interaction. The paper looks at the different kinds of ‘face’ that magazines invite their women readers to put on and suggests that they – and their advertisers – adopt a ‘technology of enchantment’ as a means of exercise control over them. Magazine and advertising language is imbued with ‘magical’ power, and the paper shows how the structure of advertisements closely parallels that of magical spells used in certain healing rituals. It concludes by using magazine reader interviews to learn the extent to which women do or do not believe in such ‘spells’ and whether they are encouraged to buy into the ‘beauty myth’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
    Publisherimagine.. CBS
    Number of pages22
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009
    SeriesCreative Encounters Working Paper


    • Advertising
    • Beauty
    • Consumption
    • Content analysis
    • Ethnography
    • Fashion magazines
    • Grooming practices
    • Magic
    • Ritual

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