Plenty of women have had negative reactions to the sexualised images of women on lads’ mags covers, but research conducted at the University of Missouri has concluded that reading lads’ mags also impacts negatively upon men’s self image, even a year after reading them. Interestingly, viewing sexualised images of women had more of a negative impact on male readers than fashion spreads featuring attractive male models. The study’s lead author, Jennifer Aubrey, speculates that:
…the exposure to objectified females increased self-consciousness because men are reminded that in order to be sexually or romantically involved with a woman of similar attractiveness, they need to conform to strict appearance standards.
This was confirmed by test subjects reporting fewer feelings of self-consciousness when the women were pictured with average looking boyfriends.
While this is of course highly generalised (not to mention heteronormative), I think it’s interesting that while women’s sense of insecurity when viewing lads’ mags generally seems to stem from a tendency to compare ourselves and compete with other women, men’s stems from a desire to possess the women pictured; they do not, it appears, feel threatened by images of attractive men, and I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a woman having a body image crisis when looking at a picture of a fit male model.
In conclusion, lads’ mags reinforce a patriarchal value system which makes everyone feel like crap. Maybe time to turn to a nice online feminist magazine instead, eh?