Magazines can be entertaining, but they have a vast societal impact.
Magazines can be entertaining, but they have a vast societal impact.

At first glance, magazines may seem innocuous enough. Passing by them in the grocery store, they may seem like little more than an afterthought; a simple distraction from the noise of everyday life. However, the fact remains that they have a far-reaching impact on society, for better or worse.

Body Image

Perhaps one of the most common effects that magazines have is their impact on how people view their bodies, especially women. According to the eating disorder website Something Fishy, the average female model in advertisements weighs 25 percent less than the average woman. Plus, there's also the fact that a good portion of magazines — for both men and women — have exhaustive coverage about dieting and losing weight.

Political Views

A significant number of magazines that cover politics make no apologies for being slanted toward a certain political party. This is "preaching to the choir" to some extent; for example, a liberal isn't going to buy a right wing publication and walk away convinced to switch parties. However, it's the magazines that have a "middle of the road" focus that have the most power in that their slant is a bit more subtle, thus more influencing.

Purchasing

Advertising in magazines has an effect on what people buy. According to a 2009 study by McPheters and Company, Conde Nast and CBS Vision, in 30 minutes' time, you take in six times more the amount of advertising impact with a magazine than you would if you were online. However, magazines' purchasing influence extends beyond the advertisements, as content in the editorial portion can sway people's buying habits. For example, an entertainment magazine may have an abundance of positive and negative reviews on music and movies that convince people to either buy or pass.

Information Access

Magazines are unique in that the feature stories are often more informative and in depth than a newspaper article. They're also cheaper than a lengthy book. Plus, if you spill water on a magazine, it won't cost you a small fortune to replace it, as is the case with portable media devices. It's for this reason that they have staying power against many new electronic advances that threaten to render them obsolete.