Teen Magazines Brainwash Youth

Dani Vignos

The teen magazine industry is a multimillion dollar business that is brainwashing our youth into an increasingly depressive state. Every edition is the same, and they are having a negative influence on our adolescence more so now than ever. Magazines have turned trashy. Girls are no longer skimming through harmless fluff, but instead girls are reading absurd self-improvement tips.

These trashy teen magazines, including Seventeen and Teen Vogue, purport to share positive advice to help girls with their average problems. Since Seventeen’s debut in the 1940’s, teen magazines quickly became one of the most popular genres of magazines, and Seventeen has remained the highest grossing of all. However since 2006, teen magazines have taken a turn for the worse.

One marvels at the poor young souls who receive flirting advice from John age 25, who very well could be a made-up person. A small portion of people are reading these trashy magazines for a good chuckle, but a mysterious array of young teens are reading these magazines for actual advice. Open one up, and you, too, will be appalled and terrified for these teens.

All of the Seventeens and Teen Vogues of the world need to be abolished. Or there needs to be a bold disclaimer warning naïve teens that all of the information in these articles is patently false. No, you will not fall in love with newly discovered flirting tips. No, you will not lose ten pounds in one week, and you will most certainly not change your life with a new wardrobe.

Every Seventeen index looks the same.  Each issue is broken up into four sections: fashion; hair, skin and make-up; health, sex and fitness; and dating.

Fashion for the most part is a legitimate section describing the latest trends and where to make these purchases. However, as you flip the pages there is a section that describes clothing for your body type. All of these “body types” are sugar-coated insults. We have: “Curvy All Over,” which is longhand for fat, “Tall” meaning too skinny for your own good, or “Short Torso” meaning stumpy. This gives girls the idea that people, like clothes, fit into certain categories.

The sections of hair, skin, and makeup reinforce teens’ insecurities and further mention that certain beauty products will improve his/her social status or public reception. This section includes pages of young girls caked in makeup depicting a false idea of beauty, which further encourages the youth of today to become the careless consumers of tomorrow.

The health and fitness sections usually tell the reader to cut back on their meal sizes, which in the twisted logic of an average teen, means “stop eating” in bold font. Recent studies have shown that 10% of women in the U.S. have eating disorders and this number continues to grow with the increasing focus on weight watching.  The unreachable body goals are coupled with encouragement to give false hope for losing weight. We should be encouraging people to be happy with who they are.

Seventeen has made new attempts to encourage “Finding your Body Peace,” but one still flips the page to find tips on “Boosting your Bra Size in a Week” or “How to get a Summer Butt.”  Aside from the fact that summer cannot modify a butt, these two ideas completely contradict each other.

The dating section persuades teens to display an overwhelming sense of artificialness when dealing with relationships. One recent issue of Seventeen included a sneaky way to “Get Your Crush to Notice You,” by accidentally sending them a text message that was actually intended for another person. This is exactly what people should not do. Another Seventeen issue includes “How to be the Perfect Wingman.” The columnist tips the reader by telling her “you’re job is to set her up with a cool story” or “to pull her out of the convo on the highest note so he’ll want to follow up for sure.” These tips reduce teens’ complicated emotions to a game.

Not only are these magazines poorly advising teenage girls, but they are giving bad reputations to teenage guys. In a Spring Seventeen issue, an article was written on “Weird Things Dudes do Before a Date.” Brian, age 18, from Colonia, NJ told Seventeen that when he’s getting ready for a date he always “hits [his] key spots with Axe: pits, chest, crotch and butt.”  Nate from Detroit likes to listen to “T.I or Lil Wayne and rap the lyrics in the mirror because it helps [him] feel like a badass.”  Two more guys divulged that they go on dates commando and wink at themselves in the mirror pre-date to pump themselves up. The males in Seventeen are all depicted as arrogant, stupid and hopefully not your average guy.

As is evident in all aspects of our culture, America is obsessed with wealth, looks, image and improvement. These magazines are psychological mazes that are sucking teens deeper into this trap. Children absorb of the media that surrounds them and these magazines are sending youth down the lifelong path to doom and misery.

Trashy magazines prioritize things that are ultimately insignificant in the broad scheme of things. Readers are given the impression that looks define a person and that others judge you according to these definitions. The whole premise of these magazines is superficial and, even when the intentions are good, the advice misses the target.

If you are not reading them for a good laugh, then you really should not be reading them at all. Once in a while a magazine will include an interesting article about a controversial issue, but these articles are overlooked by the audience that these magazines attract. Some teens have reached a stage in their lives where they are no longer reading these magazines in earnestness, but there needs to be a serious change in content or our youth may ultimately fail when dealing with reality. Just as any advertising industry, the magazine business needs to realize its influence on the youth, and change its message accordingly.