Vogue's 1969 "Nude Look" that Shifted Focus from Fashion to the Body.


I wanted to continue a short history lesson from where I left off a few days ago when we were discussing the opportunities women had in the past to be a heroine.  As you now know, women's magazines have been the most significant influence in identifying the role women must play in society. As the second wave of the women's movement was born and the dream of being a perfect housewife began to dissolve, advertisers and magazine had to create a new more enticing role for women. More importantly, they needed to develop a new strategy to sell more products. In 1969 Vogue created the "Nude" look. "Stripped of their old expertise, purpose, and advertising hook, the magazine invented almost completely artificially a new one. In a stunning move, an entire replacement culture was developed by naming a "problem" where it had scarcely existed before, centering it on women's natural state, and elevating it to the existential female dilemma." Namoi Wolf author of The Beauty Myth. 

Take a look at the two Vogue covers above and the distinct change in messaging from 1965 to 1969. Also, note how both covers use an inspirational cover title like, "There's more than one way to be a beauty now..." And, "Special beauty issue, you from the inside out." While the 1965 cover focused on fashion and beauty, the 1969 cover focused on the body by creating the belief that "beauty from the inside out" can be achieved by perfecting your body through plastic surgery. 

Think about this concept and just how quickly we have all fallen victim to this marketing strategy, where the advertisers (media) creates a problem (where there was none) and then conveniently sells you the solution. In my media manipulation presentation, I show a Weight Watchers commercial that does precisely that. The ad is fast pace and anxiety-producing, with images of cheese squeezing out of a can, raw meat, fast food, and candy. They also show lines of sugar being torched by a flame and dilated pupils to reference food to a drug or addiction. The entire commercial causes the viewer to feel gluttonous, guilt, anxiety, and insecure about their bodies and relationship to food. The commercial comes to a dramatic end with an empty plate that says Weight Watchers across the middle. The most important part of this marketing strategy happens to be when this commercial aired. Have a guess? Superbowl. They specifically targeted you while you were sitting with friends and enjoying great (not the healthiest) food, probably mid-bite! They triggered your emotions, made you feel and believe you had a problem (by marketing this content to you while in an unsuspecting, vulnerable moment) and then they sold you the solution, which was Weight Watchers in the form of an empty plate! 

After Vogue shifted the female focus from fashion to the female body the number of diet-related articles rose 70% from 1968 to 1972. Article on dieting in the press rose from 60 in the year 1979 to 66 in the month of January 1980 alone! By 1984 300 diet books were on the shelves, and in 2018 we have companies making millions selling girls and women appetite suppressant lollipops and skinny teas. 

Here are some statistics that should change the way you view the diet industry.

  • There are 108 million dieters in the U.S. each year
  • 95% of dieters are women
  • 85% of dieters regain their weight in 1-3 years
  • U.S. Weight-loss market is worth $66 Billion

If we are looking at these statistics logically, we can conclude that diets don't work. If they did, there wouldn't be billions of dollars made annually.  More importantly, we would have had success with the past countless diets we have all dedicated our blood, sweat, and tears to. Knowing that diet culture creates opportunities for corporations to make billions doesn't just stop us from falling back into the restrictive pattern of thinking we have developed over our lifetime.  But, being conscious of our thoughts and actions when it comes to nutrition and exercise will! Educating yourself and then allowing yourself the freedom to create your own healthy habits is key. Take time to tune in and discover what makes you feel good, what foods you enjoy that also provide nutrients to your body, and developing skills and habits that will allow you to operate optimally.  Remember the reason no one teaches us how to do this is that it is not profitable longterm, well not for them at least! It is, however, hugely beneficial to you! It just is going to take time, so be kind and patient with yourself as you work to reprogram beliefs that have caused you harm. 

If you are struggling use "Healthy is the new skinny" as an affirmation and ask yourself, "Am I doing this to be healthy or skinny?" You got this!