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Table of Contents:

The Project

Here I outline the methods used for the data collection, annotation, and analysis for the two stages of the current project. For the first stage, the main focus of my research, I established a broad corpus and a smaller, ‘core’ corpus consisting of adverts for cosmetic procedures and (other) beauty products/services in four different magazines (For Him Magazine (FHM), Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, and the Gay Times) across a set period of time (2001-2015). Moreover, as indicated above, I included some of the features related to beauty products/services and cosmetic procedures published in the various magazines. The next few sections will elaborate on the data selection and collection and the corpus tools that were used to organise and query the magazine data.

Addressing the relative lack of concern with audience reception in multimodal analyses, the second stage of my research aimed to engage with participants’ views of the magazine data and the wider beauty market. To provide an insight into various perspectives, I moderated one focus group with female readers of lifestyle magazines and several (group) interviews with men who expressed a varying degree of interest in the male grooming market. These focus groups and interviews are discussed in more detail in Section 3.2.3.

As the above shows, I focused on both the lifestyle magazine contents and their reception. Admittedly missing here is a focus on the production of the documents under study. Unfortunately, the various attempts to arrange interviews with producers of magazines and/or advertising professionals proved futile. Nevertheless, I was able to get a glimpse into the world of the producers of my data through market reports and interviews with editors published in various media outlets. Moreover, as indicated in the Introduction, I attended the Facial Aesthetic Conference and Exhibition (FACE) in June 2015 which was organised both by and for cosmetic practitioners. As part of the conference, several industry experts provided their views on the marketing and business aspects of cosmetic surgery. Moreover, this conference provided me with the opportunity to ask questions to advertising producers in the field of cosmetic surgery and the beauty market more generally.

Corpus

As mentioned above, I compiled two corpora - a broad corpus, which included 213 issues of a variety of print lifestyle magazines (such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, and Esquire), and a smaller ‘core’ corpus consisting of a total of 48 issues of Cosmopolitan, FHM, Gay Times, and Marie Claire. This latter corpus of 48 magazines formed the core of this study and was analysed in depth. However, as the core corpus only comprised a handful of articles related to cosmetic procedures, I decided to create a second, ‘broader’ corpus in order to understand the various editorial representations in the different lifestyle magazines (see Appendix A). Moreover, this second corpus also functioned as a cross-reference for the themes found in the core corpus.

To determine what magazines to include in my core corpus, I relied on previous studies of lifestyle magazines, informal scans of various magazines that I carried out before compiling my corpus, and the National Readership Survey (NRS) - now PAMCo - and Statista, which indicated the popularity of the various lifestyle magazines. After much deliberation, I decided to select Cosmopolitan (or Cosmo) and Marie Claire to represent the women’s lifestyle magazine market, as they were both popular magazines in the time period under study, they have slightly different target audiences, and they prioritise beauty (including references to cosmetic surgery). For the men’s magazines, I selected FHM as it has a stereotypically iaddish’ character and has been one of the most popular men’s magazines with a focus on grooming. Moreover, I chose to include the Gay Times as the literature suggested that gay men may be more interested in grooming than their heterosexual counterparts. Additionally, my own informal observations indicated that the magazine would offer an interesting perspective on cosmetic procedures and beauty products/ services. I include a full description of the four magazines’ brand identities and target audiences here:

For Him Magazine - “It’s great to be a man”

For Him Magazine (FHM) was established in 1985 as For Him by Chris Astridge and Eric Musgrave. Initially, the magazine appeared every six months and was distributed for free in shops selling mens- wear (Musgrave 2013). However, when Emap bought the title, it changed the magazine’s character and sold it as the lads’ mag that many British men recognise as the “honest directly and selfconsciously narcissistic style-centred glossy that takes little interest in worldly affairs” (Edwards 1997: 80).

The target audience of FHM is a (heterosexual3) male between 20 and 35 years old (with a core readership that ranges from 27 to 32 years old) (Bauer 2015: 2). Overall, readers are expected to be “confident”, “live for their social lives”, and be interested in looking good (ibid: 3). The magazine’s key values revolve around being funny, useful, and daring, which is in line with FHM's overall celebration of being a man (ibid: 4). As a lifestyle magazine, FHM focuses on “fashion, grooming, gadgets, travel, and cars” (King 2010).

Although FHM ceased publication in the UK in 2016, the website editions of FHM are still active in several countries (such as the US, the Netherlands, and the Philippines).

Cosmopolitan - “For the fun, fearless female”

The UK version of Cosmopolitan, or Cosmo, was launched in 1972 by Hearst Magazines UK and has attracted considerable academic interest. Several studies have addressed the magazine’s contents, its identity, and the role it may play in women’s lives. In their analysis of the language of advertising, Vestergaard and Schroder (1985: 75), for example, commented on the magazine’s emphasis on achieving or maintaining a beautiful appearance, partly in relation to attracting men. However, Cosmo, at least on the surface, does not present a consistent message; as Winship (1987: 100) convincingly argues in Inside Women’s Magazines, the magazine embraces contradictions between tough and tender “to offer a pluralism of opinions, voicing what are potentially mutually exclusive views on the subject of women”. Despite the magazine’s claims that this plurality of opinions and critical engagement with the various expectations of modern-day women is borne out of an emancipatory concern, many people - including readers of the magazine - are sceptical of this. In their very accessible paperback The Vagenda - based on the popular eponymous blog - Baxter and Cosslett (2014: 4), for example, consider women’s lifestyle magazines as “frenemies”: on page one they tell you “to love your body and embrace it as the imperfect vessel that it is” before urging you to “[rub] coffee granules into your arse cellulite instead of drinking them in your morning latte (which, by the way, makes you fat)”.

The version of Cosmo as it is today was initiated by Editor Helen Gurley Brown in the US in the 1960s. The focus on women as “having needs and desires outside of the home and family sphere, both in terms of sex and work” is still present in the magazine’s values of independence, fun, and power (Machin &c Thornborrow 2003: 457). In Cosmo’s 2017 Media Kit for advertisers, the magazine makes a reference to this when it describes their mission as “[empowering] young women to own who they are and be who they want to be, and we’re focused on propelling her into her fun, fearless future. No excuses, no bull@#*%, no regrets”. Moreover, Hearst Magazines UK, which publishes Cosmo, has launched “Hearst Empowering Women”, an initiative that “[celebrates] the lives, aspirations and achievements of British women” (Jones 2014).

Cosmo’s target audience is interested in fashion and beauty and is anywhere between 18 and 55 years of age (with a median age of 28) (Hearst 2017: 4). The magazine has (had) several spin-off sister publications such as Cosmo Fashion, Cosmo on Campus, and Cosmo Body. This latter magazine, established in 2012, is particularly interesting in the context of this project as Cosmo Body includes only a handful of adverts, which is in contrast to the ‘regular’ advertising-heavy edition of Cosmo. As advertising in lifestyle magazines (and elsewhere) is reliant on identifying and solving problems, Cosmo Body’s iove your body’ message may be more consistent without the interruption of advertising. However, perhaps due to the magazine’s lack of advertising, only nine issues were produced before the magazine ceased publication in 2015.

Marie Claire - “Think smart, look amazing”

Both Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire (introduced in the UK in 1988) focus on beauty and fashion since this arguably is “what attracts readers most” (Didi Gluck, former Beauty Editor at the US version of Marie Claire, quoted in Moeran 2010: 492). Despite this common focus on beauty and fashion content, the two women’s lifestyle magazines differ in terms of their target audience. The Marie Claire reader is a little older than the Cosmo reader (with an average age of 35), is affluent, and “has an established career ... is brand aware and her image is very important” (Time Inc 2017: 4). Moreover, the ‘strong’ women who buy the magazine are said to be “intelligent, interested in global issues [and] inquisitive...” and always want to remain informed (ibid). Moreover, the Marie Claire woman’s look communicates both confidence and calm (Gough- Yates 2003: 105).

Gay Times

The Gay Times was established in 1984, one year before For Him magazine. As a lifestyle magazine for gay men, the Gay Times not only includes the genre-specific emphasis on fashion, beauty, and style but also publishes features and adverts specifically for the gay male target audience.

The Gay Times targets readers across a wide range of ages; approximately 47% of the readership is between 25 and 44 years old, with an average age of 32 (Millivres Prowler Group 2017: 4). This wide age range is not surprising as the magazine consciously endeavours to appeal “to a whole new generation of affluent young gay men, whilst retaining its existing core older audience” (Millivres Prowler Group 2013). The Gay Times reader is affluent with an alleged average personal salary of £52,6144. Interestingly, in its March 2010 (p.66) issue, the Gay Times discusses the average wealth of gay men in an article on the cosmetic surgery industry, stating that “with the average gay man [earning] more than the national average, disposable income goes partway to explaining why the pink pound helps fund the [cosmetic surgery] industry”.

As will become clear in the next chapters, the brand identity and contents of the Gay Times are quite different from the other magazines included in this study. Perhaps related to the fact that the Gay Times is the magazine with the smallest (and more specific) audience, the editorial and advertising content in the magazine is often dissimilar to that found in FHM and the women’s lifestyle magazines. For example, as stated above, the Gay Times includes various articles especially for its (male) gay audience such as features on LGBTQ+ rights and advocates. Furthermore, throughout the 2001 issues of the magazine, a large number of pages was devoted to advertising by male sex workers. In more recent issues, this focus on male escorts has (largely) disappeared, but there are still adverts solely aimed at the gay (male) audience, such as those for same-sex weddings or ‘exclusive gay hotels’.

To compile the core corpus, I selected the February, June, and October editions of Cosmo, FHM, Gay Times, and Marie Claire from 2001, 2006, 2010, and 2015. The months were selected semi-randomly; after excluding the September, December, and January issues - which have a very specific focus5 - I put the remaining months in a bowl and took them out one by one. When a month was selected (e.g. June), I eliminated both the month before and the month after the one that was selected (i.e. May and July in this case) so that the magazines in the corpus would represent different times of the year. This was done to account for any seasonal marketing messages, such as the focus on ‘beach bodies’ and

Table 3.1 Total number of pages per year per magazine in the core corpus

2001

2006

2010

2015

Total

Cosmopolitan

894

830

788

604

3,116

FHM

810

644

516

436

2,406

Gay Times

666

730

532

491

2,419

Marie Claire

924

972

836

788

3,520

Average

824

794

668

580

2,866

Total

3,294

3,176

2,672

2,319

11,461

Relative frequency of classified and non-classified pages in Marie Claire {MC) and Cosmo as found across the years

Figure 3.1 Relative frequency of classified and non-classified pages in Marie Claire {MC) and Cosmo as found across the years.

suntan lotion in summer versus the ‘new year, new you’ rhetoric between November and February.

As indicated before, the core corpus comprises 48 issues, which equals a total of 11,461 pages (see Table 3.1) - 710 of these pages are in classified sections at the back of the magazine. A breakdown of the classified/non- classified content per magazine can be found in Figures 3.1 and 3.2; as all magazines contained a different number of pages, I calculated the relative proportion of pages that are classified and non-classified to give a representative view. Noticeable here is that the Gay Times included a greater relative proportion of classified pages, reflecting the numerous personal contact - and escort - adverts and lists of gay-friendly clubs and hotels that are published in the magazine.

It is important to note here that not all advertising in the classified pages was analysed; whereas adverts for cosmetic procedures published in both the classified and non-classified sections were included, (other) beauty adverts were only included if they were found in the non-classified

Relative frequency of classified and non-classified pages in the Gay Times (GT) and FHM as found across the years

Figure 3.2 Relative frequency of classified and non-classified pages in the Gay Times (GT) and FHM as found across the years.

Table 3.2 Total number of adverts per year for all magazines in the core corpus

All magazines

CS (pp)

CS (ads)

Other

beauty

Total (pp)

Total (ads)

2001

64

175

136

200

311

2006

74

158

154

228

312

2010

31

37

121

152

158

2015

15

16

89

104

105

Total

184

386

500

684

886

Note: Note the difference between the number of adverts and the number of pages for the cosmetic procedures (CS) data.

sections. As the aim of the current project was to compare advertising for cosmetic procedures (appearing anywhere in the magazines) with (other) beauty product/service advertising in the body of the magazines, I decided to leave out beauty adverts that appeared in the classified sections.

Interestingly, all adverts for cosmetic procedures in both Cosmo and FHM were found in the magazines’ classified sections. In Marie Claire, however, there has been a gradual change in where the adverts for cosmetic procedures are placed; the (implications) of this shift will be discussed later.

The core corpus includes 386 adverts for cosmetic procedures - found over 184 pages - and 500 adverts for (other) beauty product/services (which all have their own separate page). As can be seen in Table 3.2, there is a discrepancy between the number of adverts for cosmetic procedures and the number of pages on which these adverts can be found. This discrepancy can be explained in light of the nature of classified advertising sections where the adverts for cosmetic procedures tend to occur - adverts in these sections are likely to share a page.

Tables 3.3-3.6 present the number of adverts for cosmetic procedures and (other) beauty product/services adverts per magazine per page. Moreover, the tables also show the number of adverts for cosmetic procedures and (other) beauty products/services per year relative to the overall number of pages per year in the last column - so, in the 2001 issues of Cosmo, for example, 9% of the pages was taken up by adverts for beauty and/or cosmetic procedures. As can be seen from these tables, the

Table 3.3 Total number of cosmetic procedures (CS) and (other) beauty adverts in Cosmo

Cosmo

CS (pp)

CS (ads)

Other beauty

Total (pp)

Relative to overall pp

2001

28

73

55

83

83/894 = 9%

2006

32

64

67

99

99/830 = 12%

2010

14

17

60

74

74/788 = 9%

2015

4

4

27

31

31/604 = 5%

Total

78

158

209

287

287/3,116 = 9%

Table 3.4 Total number of cosmetic procedures (CS) and (other) beauty adverts in Marie Claire

Marie

Claire

CS (pp)

CS (ads)

Other beauty

Total (pp)

Relative to overall pp

2001

22

72

62

84

84/924 = 9%

2006

27

55

64

91

91/972 = 9%

2010

11

14

54

65

65/836 = 8%

2015

3

3

54

57

57/788 = 7%

Total

63

143

234

297

297/3,520 = 8%

Table 3.5 Total number of cosmetic procedures (CS) and (other) beauty adverts in FHM

FHM

CS (pp)

CS (ads)

Other beauty

Total (pp)

Relative to overall pp

2001

8

24

12

20

20/810 = 2%

2006

3

10

15

18

18/644 = 3%

2010

2

3

3

5

5/516= 1%

2015

-

-

5

5

5/436 = 1%

Total

12

37

35

48

48/2,406 = 2%

Table 3.6 Total number of cosmetic procedures (CS) and (other) beauty adverts in the Gay Times

Gay Times

CS (pp)

CS (ads)

Other beauty

Total (pp)

Relative to overall pp

2001

6

6

7

13

13/666 = 2%

2006

12

29

8

20

20/730 = 3%

2010

4

4

4

8

8/532 = 2%

2015

8

9

3

11

11/491 =2%

Total

30

48

22

52

52/2,419 = 2%

overall proportion of pages comprising beauty and cosmetic procedures advertising is much higher in the women’s magazines than in the men’s magazines.

Because the magazines include a different (relative) number of adverts for cosmetic procedures and/or beauty adverts - and comprise a different number of pages overall -1 will refer to the relative distribution of themes in addition to absolute numbers.

 
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