Tuesday, March 22, 2011
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.
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?