Lizzie Miller’s flab



My highly intelligent 15-year old daughter said to me that there was nothing wrong with the picture except for her tummy. I pointed out that flab was normal and, of course, that’s the point of the furor that’s surrounded the image. There’s an excellent article that was published in The Guardian here.

The most striking part of the article, apart from a photoshopped version of the above image unfortunately not on the website, was a comment by Liz Jones, fashion editor of the misogynist Dail Mail:

‘Jones says the reason we are sold “perfection” really is as blunt as trying to make us to buy more products. “The advertisers and publishers need us to believe the lie that if we do what we are told – buy stuff – we will look like the women in the pages of the magazine.’

Of course media theorists have long since known this as I wrote in Image and Representation (2nd edition, 2009, p. 213):

‘[Angela] McRobbie has shown how the “teenage press” typically constructs the girl’s body and therefore her sexuality as a series of problems – breasts the wrong size or shape, spotty skin, lifeless hair, fatty thighs, problem periods, The list is endless. The advertisers, of course, who are the ones who benefit economically from these magazines, always have a product that can, at a price, solve the problem. (Fiske, 1989, p.102)’

I would like know Tory politician Michael Gove’s opinion on this. He proposed, last month, that subjects like Media Studies should be worth less points at GCSE because they are ‘soft’. Could the subconscious reason for the denigration of the subject be due to the that it reveals the consumerist nature of society that fuels such body-image neuroses?

John Fiske (1989) Reading the Popular (Routledge: London and New York)
Angela McRobbie (1982)


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