Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thoughts for Tuesday, v.2: My Issue With Seventeen Magazine

Silhouette Girl style blog Philadelphia

During my last week that I can call myself seventeen, not much has come up in terms of change. Why would anything? Essentially, I'll be exactly the same. But I guess this means criticizing the magazine aimed at me, by title, is only relevant until Saturday. Truthfully, it's geared toward younger teens trying to appear older, so I outgrew it years back. Since then, I've been under the umbrella of a few fashion magazines, their younger counterparts, publications that provide "useful" news, and anything else.

There's not much on the newsstands for teens that care more about music than impressing boys. Maybe my age group just doesn't like reading, but as a seventeen year old girl with entire bookcases full of past issues from various periodicals, I beg to differ.

I alluded to a distaste of a certain magazine last week, and I see Seventeen as its predecessor. Instead of ubiquitous sex tips, there's headlines promoting ridiculous kissing techniques guaranteed to make anyone cringe - including something such as letting an ice cube loose in one's mouth. There's a "body peace" column on the opposing side of the diet and exercise centerfold. You know, just to ensure that readers don't go overboard with the suggestions to get a great ass by spring break.

In the past few years, new body types have been introduced aside from tall and thin, which is indeed helpful for some. But the covers of the past two issues? Barely distinctive. It's graced by an actress with flowing brown hair, glossy lips parting a white smile and mascara-coated eyelashes. "They're average!", Seventeen tells us - they have boy problems, they get pimples, and they like eating food too. Yet they're put on a pedestal (as are many characters within the public eye, but that's a different discussion) - and we're expected to accept it.

I'm told it's unfortunate that I grew up post-Sassy, but I experienced the demise of several other teen magazines - Elle Girl, YM, and CosmoGirl to name a few. And now options for my peers are limited. There's Teen Vogue (which I am not ashamed to say I read!), a few mini-tabloids following the lives of Justin Bieber and whichever girlfriend of his, and our main subject, Seventeen. For years, I've been flipping through the glossy pages of heavier magazines. Elle replaced Elle Girl. Simple. Glamour - ironically, not Cosmopolitan - replaced Cosmogirl.

I believe Elle, Glamour, and similar publications realize I'm being hit in their aim to capture readership, but they're not targeting me. I'm not sure that any major magazines do understand me and my type - teenage girls that like their appearances as-is, would prefer listening to music on the street to most conventional pop, and that don't give a damn whether boys swoon over them or not.

Of course, I've found other magazines to satisfy my addiction - Bust, Lula, Factory, Glamour and the occasional issue of Lucky - but I feel as a whole, there's a huge void in teen magazines. We shouldn't be directed as consumers-in-training or future trophy wives. Speak to us.

xox Catherine

PS For more criticism of Seventeen from actual teenagers, visit The Seventeen Magazine Project or check out Tavi's well-written open letter to the publication.

PPS What are your thoughts on this magazine?

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  1. I have a secret little wish of owning my own magazine someday or working for one in which it is BOY PROOFFFFF. And completely geared towards showing REAL girls on covers- not celebrities. Celebrities, sell, yes. But what if it had more substance to it that it didn't need an airbrushed celebrity on the cover to sell? It would have music. It would have books. It would have interior design. It would have movies. By the pages. hum hum hum.

  2. And. It would be vintage. And adorable. Not sexy. Or hot.

  3. I really do agree with what you're saying.. Seventeen seems to contradict itself very often. "Here's how to look like this celebrity, dress like this celebrity, be thin like this celebrity.. but remember, be yourself."

    My favorite magazine to read right now is Nylon. I've recently found out about it (gasp) and adore it. The magazine focuses on music and alternative forms of beauty. Sure, there are some of the less-than-desirable characteristics of Seventeen in it (as are in most magazines, I'm afraid), but I'm content with it.

    Great post,
    Amber Rose.

  4. I grew out of Seventeen years and years ago, maybe before I was even 15. I never felt like it applied to me either; it was full of tacky mall-ready outfits and did't apply to any of my interests. But I LOVE Lula, I think it features the most gorgeous photographs. And Nylon is constantly covering my favorite indie bands.

  5. I think we don't get magazines aimed at us because we aren't mindless consumers. We aren't where the money's at.

    And yeah, the more I read crappy magazines, the less I feel like writing in the fashion industry would ever be my cup of tea. So unoriginal, so aimed at selling things. I hate it.

  6. I read this yesterday and God knows what's wrong with me because I didn't comment! Gosh. Anyway! Oh, wait I remember. I actually went to that blog you linked, which was a very interesting thing to read. and then I read Tavi's letter as well, so yeah :p hahaha damn. I seriously never think about these kind of things and it really got me questioning all these magazines I read and how they are indirectly sending messages...


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