Sunday, April 8, 2012

Seventeen Magazine: Virtue or Vice?

This Gill reading was really interesting, but more so than that, it really put into light the "natural" acceptance a lot of readers have come to find with these women's magazines. Many of the points Gill mentions are all factual, such as contradictory stories in magazines as well as the unquestioning embrace of heterosexuality, but many viewers are so accustomed to them it isn't seen as abnormal. Most striking is the section on teen magazines. Growing up, I had subscriptions to Teen People and Seventeen, and nothing was better than getting that monthly magazine in the mail. As an avid reader of these magazines, they offered a relationship, created a trust as well as a bonding element with other readers spanning across America. It was especially helpful that these magazines targeted teens, girls just like me. Which is why as I was reading Gill's facts, supported by other scholars and historical evidence, I was shocked to find how true it was. It's always been obvious that these magazines are biased, focusing on very "girlie" material without much variation, and on stories about guys and how to perfect your appearance. What wasn't as obvious before was how these magazines twisted material into seeming it as though the girls wanted to wear this makeup for "fun." That they simultaneously were doing this for themselves as well as to achieve the ultimate goal, scoring a guy. Also, whenever magazines mention guys it is surrounded in the context of what girls can do to make their guys happen, never vice versa. As much as I enjoyed these magazines when I was younger, I felt a little dubbed when reading this section of Gill's. Although Gill points out not to feel guilty for guilty pleasures, I felt like I had played right into advertisers' and editors' hands.
Regardless though to whatever Gill says, I still find many positives to teen magazines. Not only do they create a common bond between readers, it also has a good mixture of stories, and had that much needed element, of "you're not alone" in your thinking, emotions, etc. They are especially needed in those awkward stages of early teen years. They can also help in immersing yourself in outside culture and news, especially when a lot of young girls aren't flipping through the New York Times or Time magazine. All in all, even though there is much merit in Gill's section on teen mags, it still doesn't account for the many positives there can be for young girls that need these teen magazines.

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