Dissertation Example: Celebrity Magazines

The impacts of celebrity magazines on female body image


Alice White, B.S.


Presented to the Faculty of

The University of Horse

In Partial Fulfillment

Of the Requirements

For the Degree of

Doctor of Sociology

The University of Horse

November, 2012.


This paper explores the hypothesis that celebrity magazines have a negative influence on a woman’s perception of body image, by focusing on weight issues. Based on feminist theory, using a post-feminist theory as a counterpoint, this research demonstrates that when those individuals, who are considered “perfect” by society, such as celebrities, are derided for having flaws, it sends a message to the reader that, if they reach “perfection”, it will not be enough.

The hypothesis presented in the paper is proven and researched using content analysis to examine the coverage of given images of celebrities that focus on weight in articles, and focus groups, to investigate how these images are interpreted by readers and what impact they have on them.

The research finds that, despite post-feminist theorists’ positive conclusions on the potential of such articles, celebrity magazines are not undermining the negative aspects of female interest by criticizing celebrities. But criticism of modern images of beauty creates more unattainable and unrealistic standards for women.


Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5




The objective of this paper is to determine the potential impacts of celebrity magazines on the body image of modern women, through the images of female celebrities, with reference to how such publications differ in various female magazines.

Unlike most female magazines, celebrity magazines publish thematic articles which glamorize celebrities and criticize those who stray from the preset patterns of beauty.

This research offers a hypothesis that celebrity magazines send a message to the public, that the achievement of modern beauty patterns, by individuals, won’t result in social acceptance. That happens because the articles present the celebrities, who are considered to be the icons of beauty, as always less than perfect.
The interest of females to celebrity magazines, according to the post-feminist theory, is based on showing celebrities’ “warts and all” and reinforcing, and strengthening, the effect through the voyeuristic obsession of society with the celebrity world, instead of improving and not subverting the female interest genre. Such endless critique, by celebrity magazines, will only exacerbate and reinforce the unhappiness and anxiety feelings of women with their bodies, because of unrealistic patterns of beauty that are presented in feminist theory.

To prove the hypothesis, celebrity magazines should be analyzed by context which will be presented by reviewing the literature in Chapter 1. The first context to analyze is the format of such articles and the nature of their emergence, rapid market growth and popularity.
The main focus was placed on the most popular magazines like Huston and Pink Glasses, with reference to the most successful articles and publications. (…)


According to science, the main element in determining the gender differences is the physical form of individuals. The body defines gender and is the hard core in the definition of personality, individually, and within a society. Due to the social significance which science holds, and therefore institutional authority, the concept of the “normal”, or ideal, body, became culturally accepted.

Researches who are involved with the self-image of women and altering behaviors, such as dieting, have found out that women are making intense attempts to be thinner, which may have an effect on their physical and mental health. The dissatisfaction with body, and body alteration behavior, became a popular subject in sociology and feminism since the late 1970s. (…)


1. Berscheid, E. & Walster, E. (1972) Beauty and the Best, in Psychology Today, March: 42-6, 74.
2. Chow, R. (2001) Gender and Representation, in Brofen, E. & Kavka M. (eds.) Feminist Consequences: Theory for the New Century, New York: Columbia University Press.
3. Emap (2005a) ‘ABC Release Reveals Across the Board Success for Emap’s magazines’, Emap Press Office
4. Frost, L. (2001) Young Women and the Body: A Feminist Sociology. Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillan
5. Turner, G. (2004) Understanding Celebrity, London: Sage.