I was 13 when I had an epiphany about marketing, and it was Seventeen Magazine that I have to thank. Every month I would look forward to getting the new edition in the mail. One day I realized that after flipping through the magazine, I felt bad. I always felt bad after reading this magazine. And then somehow, I realized, it’s the magazine. I’m supposed to be doing all these things, apply makeup just so, be creative with my clothes while still being “in fashion.” I just couldn’t keep up. There was no way I could keep up. It came to me that the ads and articles are actually intended to make me feel anxious, to feel that there is something wrong with me, so that I will buy the stuff they are talking about to fix that thing that is wrong with me. And I figured out that I could just stop reading the magazine. Big sigh of relief.
That’s why I love, love, love The Seventeen Magazine Project. High school senior Jamie Keiles is documenting one month of living according to the fashion and beauty advice in magazine. It’s full of insightful commentary like this one: “I can appreciate good design, but the notion of adorning yourself makes me feel a little like a commodity.”
She does a post on Seventeen’s “hot guys.” Pictures of all Seventeen-approved hot guys are hanging on her wall, in accordance with her original project rules. She then collected data on said hot guys so that she could analyze the selection according to age, occupation, and, naturally, affiliation with vampire franchises (64 percent) …
“Must be super weird for devoted Seventeen readers when they finally follows all the tips, achieve the perfect tan and “healthy” sun-kissed glow, and then realizes that the ultimate Hot Guy of Summer is just a sexed-up, long-haired version a of pale, nocturnal Xbox gamer,” she points out.
Her conclusion: The age range skews a little high.
At left, Jamie Keiles goes for the “playful pigtails” look on May 24.
Here’s Ms. Keiles on pigtails: “First, is it moral (or fair?) to encourage teenage girls who may not understand the implications of pigtails to wear them? That is, how comfortable are we letting young teens walk around unknowingly looking like fetish models?
“Secondly, I take issue with the notion that encouraging pigtails on teens reinforce an association between things that are “girlish” and things that are “sexy.” Something seems askew to me when we are living in a world childhood and sex-appeal can exist comfortably on the same plane.”
She’s getting a lot of attention. There’s a great post about the project at Jezebel: “Teenom Girls Convince us That the Kids are All Right.”
I’m feeling better about the kids already.