Promoting Female Weight Management in 1920s Print Media: an Analysis of Ladies' Home Journal and Vogue Magazines



This study explored if and how editorial and advertising content published in 1920s women's magazines promoted the thin female body ideal of that time. The work was guided by symbolic convergence theory, which suggests that rhetorical visions within the media contribute to audience perceptions of social reality. Ladies' Home Journal and Vogue were selected for analysis. Qualitative content analysis revealed three overarching rhetorical visions concerning female weight management. Through these visions, advertisement and editorial content achieved the rhetorical aims of promoting external and internal means of body control; constructing weight loss as readily achievable, safe, and valuable; and constructing body size as indicative of youthfulness, beauty, and fashionability. The role of visual images in supporting these rhetorical visions is discussed, and findings are situated within their social context. In addition, the relevance of the findings to the recurring popularity of the slim female ideal in the 20th century is explored.