A Feminist Reading of Darling Magazine

Student Author(s)

Kelsie Nyhuis

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Doshi, Communication

Document Type


Event Date



This project aimed to analyze how women are portrayed in Darling magazine. Models and photographs in issues from 2015 were the primary objects of analysis, but the context within which these images appeared was also analyzed. The method used was textual analysis. Darling is 100% advertisement-free, but still features full-page photos of women. The models tend to be dressed more artistically than sensually, and the magazine claims to focus on women of different ethnicities, upbringings, and job descriptions, in an attempt to increase their readership by broadening their appeal. Although Darling magazine states that it is trying to reshape how women are represented in the media by attempting to define modern femininity, the ways in which they define modern female bodies remains unclear. In this project, I used the theoretical concept of hegemonic femininity to examine the objects of analysis. Hegemonic femininity refers to the ways in which traditional norms for women are normalized and remain dominant. This hegemony is often maintained through media representations. Qualitative textual analysis revealed that Darling magazine uses specific aesthetics to appeal to middle and upper-class women and although models and photos challenge beauty ideals of hegemonic femininity, the stories in the magazine are fairly stereotypical. In conclusion, I found that Darling is trying to break the mold of typical women’s magazines by photographing models of different races, sizes, and ages. However, there are still problems with the periodical, such as cost, the type of issues they focus on, the limited amount of issues per year, and the lack in this type of media that is accessible for women all over the world. Thus, hegemonic femininity is maintained through non-image-based features rather than images.

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