Okay, so I have been inexplicably getting Seventeen magazine for a few months. I have no idea how this came about. Perhaps it was a gift subscription, and while it is a pretty weird one (considering I’m in my thirties and have been tragically unfashionable my whole life) it does allow me an insight into the morass of (what others think is) a teenaged girl’s mind.
There are waaaaay too many references to princesses, pixie dust, and cutsey crap interspersed between ads for clothing (much of which is in the tragically 80s style that I and my contemporaries wanted to rock because we’d then look like the oldest girl on Full House), zit products and makeup. Oh so much makeup. Every makeup company in existence, including the cheapo ones like NYC (which seems to be a cooled up version of the Wet’n’wild I remember buying and having allergic reactions to when I was in high school).
Makeup and airbrushed faces. Which is the damning thing I did find. After all, high school may be an age for blemishes, but more than likely, by the time these girls are in their 20s that will have died off completely and they will have the sort of complexions that most 30+s can only long for. I say most because I have been told I am not in this camp. Everyone assumes I’m still in my 20s. I don’t even have to wear concealer or heavy foundations to pull off this “look”. I credit the fact that I’ve been moisturizing since high school, so, trust me, I’m not damning all makeup.
The damning thing I didn’t (mostly) find was too much attention being paid to weight (in the negative way). Admittedly the August 2013 edition of Seventeen, which I’m skimming through even though it’s only a spit into July, does feature a spread on buying jeans that flatter individual figures, including jeans to wear to make yourself look lighter (and trust me, I’m not going to repeat the recommendation because, one, I don’t think women should “dress for their shape” so much, because clothing is a necessity which should be worn for comfort and protection from the sun, and two, the advise was BAD… only a teenager with little in the way of extra pounds would wear the recommended skinny jeans, as, speaking from the point of view of a fat 30+, skinny jeans are a no-no for everyone, except slim boys with emo affectations, or people enamored with the idea pulling denim out of their own butt cracks). But on toward the back, after you’ve gone through all the crap, is this: “is tumblr messing with your mind?”, an investigation into the way in which super-thin girls posting pictures of their “thigh gaps” (seriously, this is a thing girls want? why? gotta have some slap in those thighs, princesses, if you hope to eventually become a queen) is triggering unhealthy self-image in girls, and causing them to indulge in self-destructive behaviors just so that their thighs won’t touch, even if their feet do.
My question is, why the fuck is this buried on page 106, and after tips on eating a healthier BBQ and exercises one can do to get to “amazing” in 10 minutes? Okay, good for you Seventeen for trying to raise awareness to negative self-image issues… but why does a teenage girl have to wade through airbrushed models and the perfect jeans to make your butt look smaller to get to this very important message? I’m almost afraid to look through other copies, for fear that I may well find the same sort of fuzzy message.
In fact, most of the important stuff in this issue is in the back, including an announcement that teens can enter their tips to stop school bullying into a sponsored anti-bullying campaign contest for money (for their school, sorry kiddos)! Good for the fact that awareness is being raise to bullying. Bad because the reward for treating others better should never involve dollar signs. Or the deodorant ad devoted to anti-bullying (it stinks you know!) What about the girl who bravely spoke out against her abstinence-only sex ed teacher’s use of shaming words (like slut)?
Oh, and look, your reward, teens, for either wading through these important issues with full attention, or just skipping past them, is more spreads on clothing and tips on having a good (instagram worthy) hair day.
What is the point I’m trying to make? Well, pretty much this: even though there were far less references to fad diets and shape-obsessing than I thought there would be (magazines geared for adult women are FILLED with this sort of crap, as well as advertisements and recipes for desserts, because hey, the best thing to do to a woman after making her feel fat and unable to stick to the hideous fad diet that has been laid out for her is to push the idea of cookies into her head) the message was still clear. Teenager girls need to worry about their clothes, hair, skin, makeup, shoes, and their ability to take attractive instagram photos and write their daily life story in a 140 character twit… and all that other, way less important stuff, like having a positive body image, or standing up for your own beliefs, even if it’s against a teacher at your school, can be pushed to the back of the average teenagers life. After all, the articles are there. Isn’t that good enough?
Well, considering the fact that most teens are apparently used to only ingesting 140 characters worth of entertainment at a time, no, it’s really not good enough at all.