Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Austin Woman Magazine -- Who are these women?

While enjoying an awesome birthday on Monday, I came across Austin Woman Magazine in the waiting room of the place where I was having a massage (an awesome gift from an awesome guy, the massage--not the magazine).

I have seen this magazine in the past, but had not formed any strong opinions about its content. The primary mission of the magazine, as far as I could tell from reading it and then from a visit to the website, is to profile, promote and support strong and interesting women making contributions to Austin in the worlds of business, community, the arts, etc... This all sounds really good to me. The website refers to women like Liz Carpenter and Molly Ivins as inspirational.

So, imagine my disappointment when every other advertisement in this magazine is for a plastic surgery center. Seriously, like every other ad. I would assume from the number of these ads that the readers of Austin Woman magazine all have augmented breasts and are hard at work dealing with their varicose veins. If the readers are indeed spending time and money on surgeries and "beauty" treatments --where do they find the time to affect change in their businesses and their communities? While resting up after the last tummy tuck?

It is no news flash that women in our culture are confused about how to feel about the way we look and how we age. There are very few places where we can find positive reinforcement about dealing with these issues in an organic and enlightened way. Many women feel that they must look a certain way in order to be successful and to stay competitive in their chosen professions. I know that this is a very commonly held belief among women working in real estate. I feel very lucky to be able to run my business successfully and find fulfillment in my work in t-shirts and jeans and without a nose job.

Now, I would imagine that running a magazine is hard and to run a magazine you must have ad revenue. Can you turn away advertising dollars because you don't agree with the product for sale or the message it sends? Would that constitute censorship? These are all questions that I don't have answers for, but I do know this--plastic surgery and appearance are not a part of the conversation when it comes to men and the way they do business or participate in their communities. If there are any men out there that disagree with this, I would love to hear from you.

To be clear, nowhere in the Austin Woman magazine mission statement does it state that the publishers are feminists or supporting a specifically feminist agenda. In a conversation with a colleague about this subject HE made the observation that plastic surgery and feminist ideals could coexist. I wonder what Liz Carpenter would have to say about that and I wonder if I have blown my chances of being featured in Austin Woman magazine? :)