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VOGUE AND COSMOPOLITAN
Representations and ideologies in lifestyle magazines
I had a look through the December 2000 edition of Vogue and Cosmopolitan. I am going to compare these two magazines looking at representations and the ideologies presented in these magazines the values of lifestyle, by using examples to illustrate my opinions. In both magazines they use gold. Gold can have many different associated meanings. It can be a signifier of wealth and power. It can have connotations of class and sophistication. When we compare the use of this sign in building up a representation the magazines contents one can see differences. In Vogue the gold is shiny more realistically shown, rich and a matt gold used. This helps construct a meaning that can easily be associated with Vogue. A magazine, which represents quality, power and sophistication. The cover of Vogue and Cosmopolitan represent two different representations of women. Vogue represents women in a stylish and sophisticated romantic way. It does this through using two very powerful signifiers. Gold and black. Gold can have many different connotations. It can mean wealth, power, rich, and beauty and as the cover is glossy and rich in coloration style of sophistication are highlighted. The black on the front cover of Vogue is a silhouette, showing profile of a woman’s head, neck and shoulders. In this case the silhouette has connotations associated with mystery and romance. It also draws on a classical style of art.
When I compare this to Cosmopolitan lifestyle I can instantly see major difference. The front cover shows a heavily made up slim, attractive and model. The photograph is taken to emphasize the face and the chest. She is wearing a diamontey, halter neck top, which is quite revealing. These representations clearly show the more physical and sexual side of women. This model looks at the readers. It allows us to identify strongly with her. It is a full color photograph and a stereotypical representation, which could be said to legitimate and justify the social inequalities that exist in society between men and women. I.e. women are nearly objects of pleasure and are only there to please their men.
Vogue doesn’t use contents reviews on the front cover but Cosmopolitan is does. Cosmopolitan has many contents reviews on the cover. It is a foretaste of the magazine you are going to read. Vogue doesn’t have to reach his audience in this way, they have already their solid audience. The difference in their audiences is that the audience of Vogue is older then of Cosmopolitan. Vogue is a higher level, a next stage after Cosmopolitan. Cosmopolitan has to find new readers for these kinds of lifestyle magazines. After these people have gone through this part of life from 15 until 25 they reach a new level, where people usually have found their partners and are settling down. They are not anymore looking for parties and looking for a new partner what Cosmopolitan is trying to represent. They are now also reading other magazines such as Vogue. Vogue therefore doesn’t have to convince people anymore to buy a lifestyle magazine, they have now to convince people reading their magazine, because Vogue now representing the wishes of the audiences in this particular age. This has all to do with ideologies. The ideology is materialism represented to us, by using perfect images that people enjoy and that create an ideal of lifestyle. The ideology of Vogue is that the magazine is representing a sophisticated lifestyle. Very important is fashion, exclusivity, reaching a higher class and beauty. In Cosmopolitan the main aspects are that women have to be independent, out for fun, party, out to succeed at all costs, enjoy sex and to be successful. Using signs and symbols in the magazine represents this lifestyle. The color pink is found on every single page in Cosmopolitan. The color gold and black is mostly found in Vogue.
I am giving a few examples, how representations encourage consumerism and reinforce or produce readers’ aspirations.
The perfume advert “Intuition” by Estee Lauder in Vogue is a representation, classical signs of beauty, which signifies romantic. The picture is a denotation a woman half naked lying on the floor in a yellow back round which has connotations innocence, temptation, purity and beauty. The color of the skin is light and has a romantic color overall the picture. The picture has been computer rendered and has no link to reality.
She is like an angel in an Utopian world, which doesn’t exist on earth. This advert is representing women as beauty of rareness. The name of the product already has a connotation of the romantic side of a woman. She is an utopian representation of a woman. A world that cannot exist. The consumers see a woman like her and therefore people want be like her and buy the product.
The picture of the fashion mark GAP is a denotation of two women in casual clothes. They are young, beautiful and innocent. They are different race, which is a sign for multicultural society. They are dressed casual. It encourages consumerism by using signs of bright, happy and a light color, which has connotations love and estimates others to buy the product and to be like them. The pink written text “holiday is here” is in a color, which is a connotation of feminine. It means that you don’t have to go fare away to have holidays. Buying this product will give you the feeling of being in the holidays. Wearing this shirt makes you happy, more attractive and fashionable. The color of the text and their cloths shows the multicolor of peoples race. The different races are converging.
The picture of Tiffany and Co denotes black and white picture of lovers. The picture has connotations of love and romance. The man is kissing the woman’s shoulder while he is getting out a blue box. She is overwhelmed of this surprise. This icon of lovers emphasizes that gifts reinforce and keeps a relationship between lovers alive. A gift can bring happiness, love and joy into once life. Signs such as kissing and touching obtain the connotations. There is a contrast by the blue box. It points out the product and emphasizes that a gift can bring all these feelings alive. Buying a gift for a woman is always good, because women love jewelry and seem never to have enough of it. In order to surprise a woman and to make her happy you have to buy this product by Tiffany and Co.
The picture of the fragrance Ghost advert has a denotation of a woman in an utopian world, by using signs as spiritual colors of clouds and dust in a not identifying surrounding. The picture has been computer moderated a lot. The skin of her is perfect and her eyes have been manipulated. The girl has connotations of an innocence angel, by using signs as white cloths and silver. The picture has overall a soft, romantic and mysterious style. The bottle of the product itself a symbolic of ghost. The white silver bottle emphasizes another utopian world and makes the product more valuable.
The Tommy Girl represents typical American ideologies of lifestyle. Freedom, independence and being proud of themselves are the main key elements. The American flag in the back round and the sign of Tommy Hilfiger is in the same colors as the flag. The writings of the advert are a bit leisure written and not in capital letters. They also choose a white woman to represent their country. She wears a kind of fuzzy, easy shift wear style. The golden touch of the fragrance gives it a value.
The editorials in Vogue and Cosmopolitan have obvious differences. The style of the editorial how it is written, what it imply and contain is different to each other. The expression of editorial and the arrangements are a reflection of the ideal of lifestyle the magazines hold dear.
The editorial in Vogue is in a golden frame. The editorial looks now more important. It is now the king and queen of the editorial. The big frame lifts the editorial out, the gold and the white contrast back round. Vogue doesn’t need to show pictures in the editorial. Vogue is sophisticated and uses “quality” signs to express the importance of the editorial. Gold is now again playing an important rule. Vogue is straight forward, no complexity and is flourish. The editorial of Cosmopolitan is less important. The written text is smaller and is only fitted in the left bottom page. It is in a modern girly style and uses pictures to show lifestyle. One picture is nearly as big as the editorial and the other pictures has denotations of parts of life such as marriage, shopping and cloth. Some of the editorial and the description next to the editorial are in pink. Pink is found through the whole magazine on every single page. The color pink is a sign for sex and female. Pink is a color that mostly attracts female people and is less found in male magazines.
Both magazines write indirectly in their editorial that the consumers of the magazines don’t need to go fare away to have fun; you don’t need to go to see a doctor to check your health. The only thing, which is important, is entertainment. The editorial is also a summary of the magazine. It tries to persuade the readers to live their life, as the magazine likes it. It is telling a story about a “typical” woman’s’ life such as party, drinking, disco, laugh, singing, shopping, fall in love etc... One extract in the editorial is: “Maybe I should have be more like a famous American magazine editor who arrives late, wears sunglasses and only stays 20 minutes.” This sentence already encourages identifying yourself with the American leisure. You want to be as cool and successful as this American editor is and you want to buy the sunglasses, which you are going to find as an advert some pages later. In order to be pretty, nice, successful, sexy etc. you need to stay at home and read their magazines and buy the products advertised in them. If you go to holidays you won’t be able to buy the magazine and the products they advertise. That’s why tries the magazine to write their stories and editorial such that you will continue buying it.
The value of ideal of lifestyle in Cosmopolitan are be healthy, be sexy, change to be who you are not, be the best, be fashionable, be good in bed, flirt, being independent, succeed at all costs, go on holiday, stand up for yourself. The ideal of lifestyle in Vogue are more materialism, capitalism, sophistication, elite, exclusivity, design and artistic. In Cosmopolitan is sex more important then in Vogue. The different audiences of Cosmopolitan with some money of the age 15-20 and Vogue with a lot of money of the age 25-40 reflect in their adverts, editorial and articles. Materialism is a theory of philosophy where live is better when you own products. Capitalism is a system, which encourages greed and individual gain rather than emphasizing the collective responsibility of a community and is used to inspire individuals. Vogue readers have gone through the age where they should have been reading Cosmopolitan and are now reaching a higher elite level. They are now looking for exclusivity, design and artistic cloth. They are sophisticated and are now settling down with their partners. All magazines have a target audience they are trying to aim at. They are using various signs and symbols to represent their ideology of lifestyle for their target audience they are trying to reach.
- Quote paper
- Schmige Maximilian (Author), 2001, Representations and ideologies in lifestyle magazines - Vogue and Cosmopolitan, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/104643