Love It!: my bargain boob-job shame!

// 8 October 2011

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A photograph of an orange sticker on a grey wall. The sticker has a drawing of a woman hugging herself, and the words Love your Body, it's the Only One You've Got This is a guest blog post by Michelle Williams and AJ McKenna

You enter the store. You want to buy something highbrow to read on the train, to look all intelligent and that. You want to buy Prospect so you can look like someone who knows politics, or Empire so you look like a film buff, or Wired so you can look like someone who knows what wi-fi actually stands for. And you imagine the admiring glances of people on the other side of the carriage. Look at her, you imagine them thinking. See how she eschews Heat or Grazia in favour of dense, thick, perfect-bound magazines about actual stuff. There, they will say, is a woman who knows her shit.

But there they are: glossy magazines with headlines screaming ‘My Dog Ate My Face Off!’ ‘Sex in a Lift with Her Own Brother!’ or ‘The Cook Sliced Me Up Like His Dinner!’. As soon as I see them all thoughts of AI, Tilda Swinton or the West Lothian Question vanish from my mind and I binge-buy three or four of these sensationalist sheets to stuff in my bag for the journey.

And why not? Yes, they’re over the top; yes, their production values are minimal; and, yes, I still can’t understand what editorial thinking lies behind the decision to juxtapose these tales of human trauma with a picture of a smiling young Caucasian woman with Hollywood teeth: but they represent experiences from a perspective – female and working-class – which the posher mags generally ignore. The cliché that ‘all human life is there’ doesn’t really fit, because the bias towards the sensational leaves little space for more quotidian or reflective material, but whatever else you say they certainly do cover a wide variety of content – from the ridiculous to… well, the ridiculous again, but at least a different flavour of ridiculous.

(And plus, they’re cheap. Have you seen how much Empire costs these days?)

So: I buy these magazines. I admit it. They’re my guilty secret, my trashy shame. Or they were, until one of those magazines took trashiness to a whole new level.

‘Love It!’ Magazine have decided to run a campaign called ‘Britain’s Got Body Issues!’ Terrible title, but in keeping with their idiom. So, how are ‘Love It!’ helping their readers deal with their body problems? Are they offering counselling? Doing body-positive photo-features? Perhaps working with Susie Orbach’s Endangered Species campaign? Er, no. They’re doing it by giving away boob jobs.

Seriously. In their 6 October issue, ‘Love It!’ announced they were ‘launching a month of free plastic surgery!’ and were ‘starting with what most girls want…BIG BREASTS!’

This would be bad enough if ‘Love It!’ were only giving this away to, say, random readers in a lucky dip. But instead they’ve made it a competition, where ‘readers can vote on who most deserves the surgery’. This really is the aesthetic surgery equivalent of The X-Factor, a gladiatorial freak show in which women will compete to see who has the direst décolletage, or the biggest sob story – and the winner gets the chance to undergo a potentially deadly surgical procedure without having any counselling or help for deeper problems! Some prize.

Worse yet, the whole thing seems to be some co-promotion between ‘Love It!’ and the surgical centre offering the procedures. The first 200 readers to text in their entry (‘£1.50 plus standard network charges’, of course) get 20% off surgery at the clinic even if they aren’t judged ‘worthy’ enough for free silicone or saline enhancements. This isn’t about body issues at all, it turns out – it’s about money, marketing and publicity.

The clinic gets publicity and a Groupon-style increase in custom in return for a relatively small discount. ‘Love It!’ rakes in the cash from the phone charges, plus whatever the clinic is paying for the publicity. It’s a win-win situation: except for those who enter the competition, have their boobs and personal histories pored over by readers nationwide, and find they aren’t successful. Or those of us who want to live in a world where a woman’s worth isn’t based on the size of her norks.

So please email ‘Love It’s editor at jo.checkley@burdamagazines.co.uk and let her know what you think; join us on our Facebook page; and tell more people about our campaign. Together we can tell ‘Love It!’ that some of us want a world where women aren’t made to feel bad because of their bodies. Because Britain has got body issues – but there are better ways to deal with them than giving away free implants.

[The image is a photograph of an orange sticker on a grey wall. The sticker has a drawing of a woman hugging herself, and the words Love your Body, it’s the Only One You’ve Got. It is adapted from the original by Jason Taellious and is used under a Creative Commons Licence]

Comments From You

anywavewilldo // Posted 9 October 2011 at 12:19 pm

trash women’s mags are not FROM a working class womens’ perspective… they’re just Prolefeed

LUVM // Posted 10 October 2011 at 2:12 pm

For those who haven’t seen it, I took a picture of the offending article here. http://lockerz.com/s/145176533 My boyfriend bought me the magazine, and I was absolutely disgusted when I saw this. I almost still can’t believe it’s not a joke.

Amanda McIndoe // Posted 10 October 2011 at 11:57 pm

This is disgusting, I’ve sent an email to the editor. I’ll let you know what the response is.

LUVM // Posted 11 October 2011 at 12:28 pm

I got this response:

Dear xxx

Thank you for your email and I’ll let you know the thought processes that went into running this offer.

This is not a competition or a prize. It is a chance for a reader to receive treatment at a world-renowned and highly reputable cosmetic surgery hospital. Many women, unable to afford cosmetic surgery in this country, otherwise chance their luck having it abroad in less reputable establishments and often with horrifying results.

It is far better that we offer a reader the chance to have treatment in a professional and safe environment and provide them with the information to enable them to make an informed choice.

Anyone chosen for surgery must pass stringent medical checks by top cosmetic surgeons to assess their suitability both physically and mentally. The candidate chosen will then receive top care and counselling with aftercare in the comfort of the hospital’s private rooms.

As a magazine we always champion women to be confident of themselves and their bodies but unfortunately, it is a fact that women will look for ways of improving their bodies. Often some have been plagued for life with under confidence or extreme unhappiness due to a body issue that a reasonably simple operation can help solve.

We have not entered into this offer lightly and extreme care has been taken to make sure that any woman selected receives the very best treatment possible.

I hope this helps you understand why we have decided to provide this chance to our readers and thank you once again for taking the time to contact us,

Jo Checkley

Editor

My response to that:

Hi Jo

I appreciate your response.

But what about those women who never considered plastic surgery before, and are tempted by your magazine?

I think women going abroad is a red herring, if people can’t afford to have plastic surgery, they normally just take out a loan.

It doesn’t matter how reputable a hospital is, women are put at risk by going under the knife.

You should be promoting bodies of all shapes and sizes, and encouraging women to love themselves the way they are.

I do appreciate your response, but in your heart of hearts, you must know that is wrong to give away plastic surgery. It’s IS a competition and a prize, however you want to dress it up.

I will never buy your magazine again as I find it morally abhorrent.

Thanks again for the response.

Amanda McIndoe // Posted 11 October 2011 at 11:35 pm

This was the response I got:

To: “Amanda McIndoe” Dear Amanda,

Thank you for your email and I have noted your point of view.

I find it hard to accept, however, your comment that we, as a magazine, are somehow anti-women when we endlessly champion so many wide-ranging issues including our most current one to get the age for cervical smear testing reduced.

It is a fact women have cosmetic surgery and we are simply offering the chance to get this done in a professional and safe environment where candidates chosen are given a full medical assessment and full post operative care. As well as a breast enhancement, we are offering breast reduction because we are not promoting a ‘perfect’ shape but simply accepting that all women want different things.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Checkley

Editor

Don’t know what to make of this, can’t help feeling they are avoiding the issue. I saw the actual article, I found it very crass especially the remark about “all girls want bigger boobs”. Er, no we don’t.

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