Date of Award

Fall 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Brennen, Bonnie

Second Advisor

Garner, Ana

Third Advisor

Turner, Lynn


Women’s magazines reach millions of readers each month, and have been the subject of many academic inquires from media effects studies to feminist analyses. While many studies have investigated female readers’ experience with these texts, or examined the advertising content of women’s magazines, little research to date has focused on food advertising. This liberal feminist critique explores the experience of reading the 2011 issues of the three popular women’s magazines, Glamour, SELF, and Family Circle. Using Stern’s (1996) textual analysis method for advertisements, this study examines how food advertisements in women’s magazines encourage women to think about food and eating. Food advertisements tend to align with the overall narrative constructed by the magazine in which they appear: food is accessorized in Glamour advertisements as a means for enhancing one’s life; in SELF, food is presented as both fuel and reward for exercising; and in Family Circle, food represents a mother’s love and a woman’s realm as the family’s grocery shopper, meal planner, and primary cook. Food takes on multiple meanings through advertising and frequently suggests that a woman’s food choices are indicative of her worth, personality, or success as a mother, for example. Possible interpretations and implications of these food advertising observations are explored.