Why I Refuse to Read Women’s Health Magazine Anymore

July 15th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life

Women’s Health Magazine is using body shaming to get people to sign up for their ridiculous 21-Day Bikini Plan.

Every morning I like to read health news while I eat my egg white oatmeal. If I come across any really informative or funny articles I’ll schedule them to share on twitter throughout the day. I used to share some from Womens Health Magazine’s, but I stopped after I regularly got this pop-up when I went to their site.

Take a look at the fine print you have to click on below the giant “Get my Bikini Body” button.
Womens Health
In order to even view articles you have to either sign-up for their bikini plan, or click on the phrase “No thanks, I already have a bikini body.”

Are you kidding me?! {Side note: EVERYONE has a bikini body already. Take your clothes off, put a bikini on, and you have a bikini body}

I’m not overly confident by any means but I’m pretty happy with the way I look (and damn proud of losing 50+ pounds!) But even I had to pause and question myself before clicking on that. I was appalled the first time I saw it and have since stopped sending any traffic to their website. Of course any traffic I sent was minuscule in the grand scheme of their stats. Still, I am honestly surprised that the pop-up is still on their site as I can’t be the only person to complain about this!

A few years ago I stopped reading virtually all magazines except for the random home and garden one’s my Mom will send my way when she is done with them. Fitness magazines did nothing but make me feel inadequate. I wasn’t eating clean enough compared to their meal plans, I didn’t exercise hard enough, and I’d never look like the women featured in them. Research confirms this:  a University of Missouri-Columbia study found that all women were equally and negatively affected after viewing pictures of models in magazine ads for just three minutes.

I’m over it.

Women’s Health Magazine – it’s time you do better.

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59 Responses

  • I haven’t read magazines like that for several years because I got fed up with them, but on the rare chance I catch a headline at the grocery store I’m even more appalled by the body and diet/fitness shaming they get away with. I feel bad for women who are reading the garbage in them and taking it seriously. Any actual decent advice is at a huge cost.

    • Erica House says:

      I’m almost as frustrated that there are people out there who buy into the garbage they are selling in their magazines.

  • SuzLyfe says:

    I haven’t read those types of magazines in a long time a) because it is always the same thing and b) because it is always the same thing ie get thin. I’m already there, thanks. But yeah, that is really sad.

    • Erica House says:

      I came across an old fitness magazine from a few years ago I had and it was literally almost identical to the newest issue. It just NEVER changes.

  • briwifruit says:

    Women’s health and fitness mags in general are notorious for those stupid click-bait headlines, but Women’s Health is one if those worst. I remember about a month ago the posted an article about “exercises women should avoid” which talked about not doing pull ups as they make you have a manly back and to avoid the bench press because it makes your “armpit fat squish out.” Thankfully, readers on their Facebook page tore them a new one about it and it was taken down shortly after.

    • Erica House says:

      Omg. I wish I could say I’m surprised they are still using garbage headlines to get readers after many people have called them out on it, but unfortunately it keeps working for them!

    • Erica House says:

      Maybe it’s just a sign I have lower self-esteem then I realize but it’s basically a guaranteed ‘hate how you look for the rest of the day’ if I read one for more than 5 minutes.

  • Rach says:

    omg, THANK YOU for this. I made the mistake of getting email alerts from them (I’ve since unsubscribed!) and every.single.day it was an advertisement for basically what you mentioned in this post. It’s sickening. I do read Men’s Health though. It is ridiculous how different men’s magazines are compared to women’s. While I wouldn’t say it’s doesn’t have some of those attention grabbing articles, it does contain more interesting advice and include actual evidence and studies. There is also more variety of workouts, which, omg, WOMEN can do too. Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like I’m advertising them but am trying to make the point that there is such a huge difference as to what women are perceived to want from fitness and “health” and what men want. Why aren’t there more just “Health and Fitness” magazines rather than separate gender ones?

    • Erica House says:

      YES. I actually gave them my email just to see what the ‘bikini plan’ looked like and have received near daily GARBAGE emails from them. I’ve heard from a few other women that they read Men’s Health! I do love reading magazines sometimes (nice lazy afternoon or beach reads!) so I will look at one next time I’m at the bookstore. I think health magazines are divided by gender because each gender has such different goals/approaches to fitness. Women want to lose weight fast, men want to gain muscle. I also don’t think women are as interested in the research/science behind it (which is a negative stereotype and I wish wasn’t the case!)

  • Coco says:

    I think I have a lingering subscription to a fitness magazine, but not this one. Mostly I look at the healthy recipes. I usually look at the workouts and think “are you kidding me”?

    • Erica House says:

      There are a few articles in each magazine that I do enjoy, but it’s hard to get past all the crappy advice and bad advertising to justify purchasing them anymore!

  • How about swapping Women’s Health for Health (tagline: “Happy Begins Here”) ? –you must know the one.

    I realize there is too much Jillian Michaels periodically on that one …
    Guess you can’t really escape the nonsense until you get to Prevention Magazine.

    That one doesn’t coddle or entertain you, either. And anyway, better suited for old ladies like me …
    But it’s a thought …

    • Erica House says:

      I love Prevention magazine! It had some great health articles and a very noticeable LACK of ‘get thin quick’ schemes. Love their focus on overall health & mental well-being.

  • Domi says:

    Way to call them out! I noticed that pop-up on the WHM site (I’m not a regular visitor, so it was my first time at the site in quite awhile) and found it appalling. There’s nothing healthy about promoting body-shaming, and like you, I have no intentions of visiting their site anymore.

    • Erica House says:

      Apparently they have been called out on that pop up before, but I couldn’t find any articles/posts on it. I wish they’d get the hint already!

  • slimsanity says:

    YES. SO over Women’s Health Magazine. I used to follow them too and unliked them from Facebook because I was fed up.

    • Erica House says:

      My friend told me this morning on facebook she had to unfollow them there because all they did was post stuff about sex? Wth?

  • One of my beefs with these magazines is “flat belly in 10 days!” Unless you are a pound or two away from a flat belly, you won’t get one in 10 days. It irks me because if it was that easy everyone would be walking around with abs!

    • Erica House says:

      HA. Yeah …. I can get a 6 pack in 6 weeks but you can’t see it thanks to all the cushion on top of it :) #LoveFoodTooMuch

  • Jenny says:

    All I can say is amen! if I can help but my daughter will never pick up one of these magazines

  • I also stopped reading the ‘health’ magazines a while back. The magazines aren’t really interested in people improving their health, if they were there would be women of all ages and shapes in their pages. I also stopped buying ALL women’s magazines and find that I don’t waste my money on the latest mascara or lipstick or night cream or eye gel…you get the picture…

    • Erica House says:

      I gave up fashion magazines first as they were the absolute WORST to me. I could never afford the constant stream of new products marketed to make me more beautiful, happy, and younger looking then ever before.

  • Heather says:

    You said it, girl. You said it. Those magazine position themselves as helping, but they’re doing nothing but making us feel like crap for not meeting impossible standards. They tell us we should be happy with who we are, and how we look, and then feature airbrushed models. Whatever. Thanks for bringing that up!

    • Erica House says:

      I’m glad to help preach the good word! I just wish women would STOP BUYING them and buying into the ‘get thin quick’ schemes.

  • OMG I saw this link yesterday when I was on Women’s Health’s website! I was shocked that they would write something so bold. And not gonna lie, I definitely thought about how rude and shallow it sounded. Yuck!

    • Erica House says:

      I KNOW I’m not the only one that feels this way about the pop-up. I wish they’d take the stupid thing down already!

  • I really find that most fitness magazines are full of body shaming. And the difference between men’s and women’s magazines are shameful. Magazines for men are all about power and strength, while for women it’s all about getting smaller (and disappearing/taking up less space) Unfortunately, as a personal trainer, I still skim through them each month (through my library, not paying for them) so I know what crazy ideas clients might bring me.

    • Erica House says:

      Yep, another comment said something similar about the discrepancies between mens/womens health magazines. I would say I can’t believe that there’s not a single women’s focused health magazine that gives generally good advice, but I can’t believe it. I think the majority of women have ridiculous expectations about what it takes to lose weight and maintain it for life (and I’m sure you see this often as a PT!)

  • I used to read tons of fitness magazines and now I don’t even read Runners World. The articles are basically the same over and over and so many are negative in nature. All I read these days is Cooking Light and that’s only because I had airline miles LOL.

  • That is so crazy. I get why they did it, because whoever is managing the website is in charge of increasing subscriptions and meeting marketing goals. And research shows if you write a message along with the decline that makes them think about what they’re declining they’re less likely to decline. I just wish the person in charge of that would have put common sense over obtaining a marketing goal.

  • I COULDN’T AGREE MORE!!!!!!!!! All of these magazines in away make women feel badly about themselves! Because I mean, common, who looks like an airbrushed supermodel in real life? Uh, NO ONE! Not even the supermodel herself!

    • Erica House says:

      The magazines have to keep making you feel like SHIT so you keep buying them every month hoping you’ll find a way to feel better about how you look!

  • This made me so angry. It was beyond insulting to all of their readers. They think they are cheeky but uhhhh hey editor/copywriter who wrote this… I’m probably in better “bikini body shape” than you, even if I don’t look like Giselle.

    • Erica House says:

      Lol – I wish there was a way for us to say these things to them. I’m hoping my post may garner some attention from them since I’ve tagged them in it on twitter!

  • I still subscribe to WH and I used to love that it was more fitness and health related than Fitness, Self, and Shape were getting to be. But now I keep reading it thinking how much beauty and style information it contains now. It’s no longer an informational HEALTH magazine – it’s another beauty magazine disguised as something else. I’ll stick with Runner’s World and Women’s Running instead!

  • I totally agree with you. I used to have a subscription to Women’s Health, Shape, Fitness but NO more. I haven’t read those in a couple of years. My husband noticed that maybe they were adding to my disordered thoughts and suggested not reading them for awhile. I don’t miss them and realized it really has been a huge help. They repeat the same information over and over anyways. We all know the equation of how to lose weight or to live healthier; it’s just a matter of being intentional.

    • Erica House says:

      I know I can’t go so far as saying the magazines cause disordered thoughts in women, but the studies prove that there is definitely a correlation between the two! After I realized how negative I was about myself after reading them I couldn’t pick one up without being hyper aware of how it effected me.

  • I stopped reading magazines the moment I discovered blogs. It’s all the same stuff! “How to get abs in three days” “lose ten pounds in ten minutes”…all ridiculous/unrealistic headlines like that. At least bloggers tell it like it is, and praise positive body image instead of telling readers they should be a certain way.

    • Erica House says:

      I didn’t really think of it but reading blogs is a great ‘replacement’ for most junk Health magazines!

      • Health Magazine (of the “Happy Begins Here” tagline)–not to be confused with Women’s Health–started out with an illustrious history. It used to be known as Hippocrates [as in “First, do no harm …” replete with the Caduceus logo] in the old days… perhaps it had a substantial male readership as well … is a kind of SELF Magazine for otherwise Prevention readers who don’t self-identify with the 40+ health-concerned crowd because they are mainly younger, probably more insecure …

        UNLIKE Women’s Health, it meets many of them where they are, without trying to create needless further insecurities… but it definitely skews towards the young and the active, challenge-fanatics amongst them …

        And then people like myself, on the bare, bare borderline of being any sort of demographic for them. 60 and not in good health, but active.

  • I saw that link when I went to their website and I definitely was offended. I don’t subscribe to this particular magazine (but I do have others). I’ve never seen a marketing effort like this one though. It’s almost offensive.

    • Erica House says:

      I found it very offensive! I have to admit/confess that I already have a bikini body just to look at your stupid articles? Uh, no thanks!

  • Believe it or not, few fitness magazines for women exist.

    I think they have specialized:

    Added to the mix:

    Oxygen for the weight-training, bodybuilding and marathon fans
    Yoga Journal for the yoga-as-exercise (not too much on the spiritual side anymore) crowd
    Prevention for the 40+ woman who is active, likes a challenge, may have some health concerns already …
    Dr. Oz The Good Life for the 35 – 65 (primarily would be) woman, pretty much ditto … not as woo-woo as his TV show (may get kinda better since recent controversy)

    and there may be others, oriented towards each of the more-fitness-oriented sports as well as running …

  • I noticed that pop up a couple days ago too. Not cool. I’ll admit that I’m pretty hooked on fitness mags, but recently started noticing that everything is focused on losing weight, not being healthy. Not everyone needs (or wants!) to lose weight. It would be nice to see some content focused on being healthy and maintaining.

    • These magazines take their cues from the commercial weight loss organizations, which also do not know how to address weight maintenance, either. This is separate from perfectly ideal-weight women encouraged to lose even more weight, which is a complementary but separate issue.

      Once I figured out how to maintain a new weight–my “happy weight” appropriate at and for that time–gone was much of my purchasing of those magazines. Likewise, ancillary services (such as fitness centers) that thought my “happy weight” at the time was still “too much”, did not get much of my repeat business, either. To complete the actual picture.

      Repeat business not being the only motivation for the popularizers of “below happy weight” weights. Possibly an aesthetic prejudice, and so long as the public eats it up (no pun intended) the rest is history … more customers, more sponsors, etc., etc. ….

    • Erica House says:

      Yes. I TOTALLY get wanting to lose weight. I’ve been there, and I know many other’s are. I just wished more magazines gave realistic information/plans out on losing weight slowly, and keeping it off for life. But, those aren’t sexy headlines that sell copies!

  • On a completely unrelated note: went into River Street Sweets today and sampled a praline. OMG.

    • Erica House says:

      I KNOW.

      And the best part is you can just keep walking in and out and asking for samples and they really dont give a CARE how many you eat :)

  • You are amazing for posting this and I’m promoting this on my blog tomorrow!

  • Good call. I think many if not all of the women’s health/fitness/fashion magazines are meant to make people feel inadequate. I rarely read them and don’t miss them….except at the nail salon.

  • Wow that’s really obnoxious! Bad move, Women’s health…

  • Michele says:

    Very stupid wording on their part. A simple “No thanks” would have been enough.