Book details

Airbrushed Nation

The Lure and Loathing of Women's Magazines

By Jennifer Nelson

About the Book

Glamour. Cosmo. SELF. Ladies’ Home Journal. Vogue. In an industry that has been in a downward spiral for years, these magazines—and other women—focused magazines like them—have not only retained their readership, they’ve increased it. Every month, five million-plus women peel back the slick cover of their favorite magazine to thumb through pages filled with tidings and advice about fashion, beauty, sex, relationships, dieting, health, and lifestyle. But do women’s magazines offer valuable information, or do they merely peddle fluff and fantasy—and in either case, do women take their messages to heart?

In Airbrushed Nation, Jennifer Nelson—a longtime industry insider—exposes the naked truth behind the glossy pages of women’s magazines, both good and bad. Nelson delves deep into the world of glossies, explaining the ways in which these magazines have been positive for women, highlighting the ways in which their agendas have been misguided, and asking the questions that have long gone unasked: What do women think and believe about the retouched photos, the ubiquitous sex advice, the constant offensive on aging, and the fantasy fashion spreads featuring unaffordable clothing and accessories? Do the unrealistic ads, images, and ideals that permeate glossies damage women’s self-esteem . . . and is it intentional?

About the Author

Jennifer Nelson has been writing for women's magazines for nearly fifteen years. She's written hundreds of articles on health, wellness, relationships, pop culture, pets, and travel for practically every chick slick on the stands, including Woman’s Day, Ladies’ Home Journal, Family Circle, Cosmo, O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, Women’s Health, Fitness, and Self. When she's not writing for women, she contributes to The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Reader’s Digest, Parade, USA Weekend, Prevention, Parents, Parenting, AARP, WebMD, and MSNBC.

Nelson teaches Stiletto Boot Camp, a course on women’s magazine writing, at She also speaks about and offers workshops on women’s magazine writing at writing conferences around the country. She is a bona fide women’s glossy magazine junkie.