Are women’s magazines demeaning to powerful women?

Sarah Kendzior argues in Politico Magazine that the women's magazines - Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire - make women from Hillary Clinton to Sarah Palin look trivial when they run profiles that are supposedly about politics and power. She calls it "the Princess Effect."

In The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan critiqued the narrow topics women’s magazines would allow in a time of domestic unrest and Cold War: “[They are] crammed full of food, clothing, cosmetics, furniture, and the physical bodies of young women, but where is the world of thought and ideas, the life of the mind and spirit?”

Fifty years later, women have advanced in “the world of thought and ideas” only to find that, in the very same magazines, ideas pale in importance to the superficial qualities valued in Friedman’s time—bodies, clothes, houses, makeup. Even the profiles that do manage to focus on ideas and achievements—like Marie Claire’s 2012 take on Obama campaign adviser Stephanie Cutter— begin with “buttery highlights” and end with workout tips.

Democratic National Convention: Day 1
Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter gives an interview during day one of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 4, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The DNC that will run through September 7, will nominate U.S. President Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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