DMU guest talk reveals misrepresentation of women in UK glossy magazines

By Isobel Rix

Dr Ivana Ebel and Dr Gabrielle Bittelbrun delivered a guest lecture at De Montfort University yesterday(FEB17), about the representation of women on the covers of UK glossy magazines.

The pair are currently on a six-date tour of UK universities supported by the Association for Journalism Education.

The lecture gave context to the women’s research on the diversity of faces used on UK glossy magazine covers, comparing their findings with magazines in Brazil.

The magazines included in their research were some of the UK’s top-selling names; Good Housekeeping, Woman and Home, Yours, Prima, Red and The Lady.

Dr Ivana Ebel, Senior Lecturer in Journalism at University of Derby, and Dr Gabrielle Bittelbrun, journalist and researcher, after the lecture.

The cross-cultural investigation highlighted that equal representation of women is a transnational problem.

The statistics reveal a huge white bias within the magazine covers observed.

Dr Bittelbrun said: “Recently we realised we couldn’t avoid also investigating race issues relating to the magazines.”

Red magazine featured only two BAME (Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic) women on its cover, actresses Freida Pinto and Jameela Jamil, between July 2015 to January 2020.

In 120 editions of Yours magazine, BAME women feature in 0.82 per cent of covers and, shockingly, Prima magazine did not feature a single non-white woman on its cover over the five years.

Dr Ebel said: “The magazines are a space of power and you have to be represented everywhere to have access and to belong to spaces of power, to see yourself is important.”

The magazines did succeed in promoting diversity when it came to including animals on the covers.

Dr Ebel said: “Overall, if you calculate it, there are more flamingos than black women.”

The research showed no representation of transgender or non-binary people on the covers, and none featured pregnant women or disabled people.

Other issues covered in the lecture included motherhood, body shaming and how femininity is represented.

Dr Ebel and Dr Bittelbrun will be at Newcastle University today(FEB18).

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