"Work out like a star! Play seventeen stylist game! Enter a style war!" (Seventeen) These are just some of the headlines that daily attract a vast number of teenagers to read this magazine. Based on the some of the most popular magazines for teenagers it may be said that the message that is sent is mainly aimed at the physical appearance, love life, fashion and music. What are the messages that these magazines send to the young population? In order to be one of the popular girls of boys, a person has to take care about every part of its body, to be in trend with fashion, to take care about nails and hear, and to know every gossip about the celebrities. Based on this one has to wonder what has happened with their education, and what is happening to the teen population that does not fall into this category?
The most dominant gender in magazines is girls. They are though how to be dressed, what colors are popular, how to lose weight. In the magazine Seventeen, that is mostly aimed at girls, the message of the popular and successful girl is morally wrong. This magazine creates a stereotyped representation of women. Pictures depict pretty girls, stylish, and carefree. But does the life of every teenager revolve around these things only? Is the goal of someone’s life just to find a boyfriend, and look splendid? It is clear that the aim of every magazine is to sell as many issues as possible, but are there some other things that can sell paper? Magazines are helping the society to produce more and more consumers of unnecessary products that are advertised in these magazines each year. Based on the most popular teenage magazines Seventeen, Teen Vogue and Bop and Tiger Beat it may be noticed that teenage girls are targeted population and that everything is directed towards satisfying the hunger for attractive physical appearance.
One of the examples that prove that the psychical appearance articles overwhelm magazines for teenagers is the article in the Teen Vogue. The author Dreisbach states that, "These increasingly popular trends seem as if they might make your body look and feel better, but are they good for you?" (Teen Vogue). The magazine Seventeen shows its reader how to "Get A Tribute Bod!" (Seventeen). Therefore, based on these headlines it may be said the magazines have spotted what are the most common worries of teenagers and create a picture of healthy and slim girl that only cares to be attractive. As Gibbons states, " Teen magazine this fall reported, without comment, that 35 percent of U.S. girls 6 to 12 years old have been on at least one diet, and that among normal-weight girls 50 percent to 70 percent consider themselves overweight". This leads to eating disorders and many other psychological problems.
On the other hand, the magazine Bop and Tiger Beat aims only on celebrities and their lifestyle: how do they look, what do they wear, where do they go out. This leads teenagers into illusion and identifies them with the celebrities. Is this possible, are they going to succeed over night? In the real world, the only thing that accounts is uniqueness and creativity. But if our teenagers are informed and educated through magazines for teenagers, will there be room for creativity? The result is that the army of identical, slim and shiny girls will become occupied only with their appearance when they enter into their twenties and the real life problems. Their employers will not observe the appearance but their knowledge and productivity.
Another issue that resolves from morally inappropriate messages that are sent by magazines for teenagers is the image of sexuality and virginity. This brings out the question: have women made a step forwards from the time when their only job has been to look pretty and be good housewives? Magazines for teenagers aim in the direction where only the surface matters and to things that are not so much important in the real life. Is the image of the perfect female representative in the magazines for teenagers portrayed realistically? The girl whose only preoccupation is to chose the color combination of her dress that matches her nail polish does not send a reassuring message to teenagers. In this way, teenage magazines send ambiguous messages: what is the gender role of females: to be sexually attractive and active or to search their own identity within their culture. Teenage magazines serve its viewers a myth. In his study Sex and Spectacle in Seventeen Magazine, Durham states: "From the perspective of feminist ethics, the myths serve to reinforce and recirculate highly patriarchal views of sexuality that interfere with girls’ ability to control their own sexuality" (24). According to Gibbons A 2002 study conducted by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. of teens' and women's magazines published between 1986 and 1996 discovered that the readers are more concerned about the sexual act than about the consequences of unprotected sex (Gibbons). The thing that hides behind this statement is that teenagers due to advices in magazines worry more about the ways to please their partners than about the possible infections that can occur after sexual intercourse.
Another thing that also opposes to the messages sent my magazines for teenagers is the message that teenagers receive from the immediate surrounding: family and school. There are teenage magazines filled with images of a successful actress, singers and celebrities who walk the red carpet in Roberto Cavalli, Armani and Valentino dresses. On the other hand, there are parents who push their teenagers to learn, educate, and establish themselves through college and career. In this battle, magazines for teenagers win, because teenagers are in a special period of their life and parents have little influence on them. If they do not find their place in the rough high school society, they withdraw into their own world and turn to media that is present everywhere.
The devastating thing is that magazines for teenagers are just one piece of the entertainment industry that aims at the teenage population. They are lurking from everywhere, reality shows of celebrities that gained their fame by being dancers in a night-clubs, internet, and social networks. It is time for a wake-up call for parents and society. Based on the given examples and statements the teenage population is recklessly rushing into the world of adults and creating the wrong image of adulthood. What can we do so increase this problem? The society could indulge into organizing creativity workshops that promote individuality and creativity over popularity. Teenagers should be encouraged to listen to their own instinct instead depending on magazines for teenagers. Another way to diminish the influence of magazines for teenagers is to involve parents into workshops where they will be advised on how to approach their teenager. There are editors from respected papers who call for petitions in banning or changing the image of magazines for teenagers. If something is not changed soon, the amount of confused and insecure teenagers will arise, and the teenagers that will dominate the others will be the ones who have the money and powers. Is this the world where we want our children to live?
Seventeen Magazines. Get A Tribute's Bod! Web. 22. March 2014. <http://www.seventeen.com/>
Dreisbach, Shaun. Wait-Eating Healthy Can Be Bad for You? Teen Vogue. 2013. Web. 22. March 2014. http://www.teenvogue.com/beauty/health-fitness/2013-12/trendy-diets
Bop and Tiger Beat. Fashion. Web. 22. March 2014. http://bopandtigerbeat.com
Gibbons. Sheila. Uncovering Gender. Women’s enews. 29. October 2003. Web. 22. March 2014. <http://womensenews.org>
Durham, G. Meenakshi. Sex and Spectacle in Seventeen Magazine: A Feminist Myth Analysis. University of Iowa. 25. May 2007. Web. 22. March 2014. <http://ir.uiowa.edu/>