DISCLAIMER: This is more like Sexism Today 101 and not for advanced feministers who already know all this b.s., but if you want to rant along in time, feel free.
I’m sad to say I used to like Seventeen magazine. As a paragon of all that is stereotypically feminine and girlish, I too once cooed over floral dresses and tutted over alarmist articles about wild teen sex lives (trust me, the only “wild teen sex life” I know of is… I actually don’t know.) and smiled smugly at the “Love Your Body!” articles. And yes, I still have a subscription, if only because I paid money for that and now I want my money’s worth, even if I’m only going to write feminist criticisms of the smiling models and their accompanying articles.
Unfortunately, some of my friends aren’t as enlightened (or as self-satisfied and smug at their knowledge that they are correct in their worldview) as I am. And while I would not be irritated if they liked to read Seventeen, they have the gall to tell me that I’m overreacting when I point out sexist pig poo.
Just a hint, ladies and gentlemen and any other designations: never tell an angry feminist that she/he is overreacting. Never. Your last moments will be more painful than a chainsaw shoved up… Never mind.
So without further ado, my top five reasons that Seventeen should be banned except maybe as toilet paper or a makeshift parachute.
1) Love your body by staying anorexically skinny with huge boobs. This is one of the most obvious. Does nobody find it even the teensiest bit ironic that RIGHT NEXT to the “Body Love” article or whatever is a thousand and one ways to make your boobs look more boobilicious and your thighs skinnier and your spleen more shapely? I dunno, it just seems kind of discouraging to vow to love your body through thick and thin (thick and thin THIGHS! Get it?) and then turn the page and see an itty-bitty model proclaiming that YOU TOO can have Dolly Parton’s ta-tas NATURALLY and your waist can be that of an underfed whippet. Hypocrites.
2) BOYS don’tcha just love ‘em they’re so cute and cuddly and… Bleurgh. I absolutely HATE the “Love Life” section. It is undoubtedly the worst part of the whole magazine. I shit you not, in the last issue there was a part that told me not to be too confident, for fear of scaring off potential penis. Um… welcome back to the 50s, I guess. Because being too confident can come off as bossy. Just gonna put this out there, it’s hard enough to be confident in the first place as a teen, I don’t need people telling me I need to dumb myself down or no one will ever love me. Waaah, if a guy can’t deal with the fact I’m not a doormat he sounds kind of pathetic to me. Another thing that pisses me off about this section? It is ridiculously heteronormative. The one time they actually mentioned that bisexuality or lesbianism exists at all, it was NOT in the “Love Life” section; instead, it was a tiny, slightly dismissive article about a girl who falls in love with her best (girl) friend. So basically lesbians/anyone not straight doesn’t exist? … Sure, Seventeen. And neither does anyone who is not skinny/white/WASP-y looking. For a magazine targeted at girls, you’d think they realize that a huge section of their magazine is excluding all of their non-het demographic.
3) Lack of diversity. O.K., this shouldn’t come as a surprise to ANYONE, but look through the magazine and count how many white models you count. Now count how many non-white models there are. Noticing anything? A trend, maybe? Yeah.
4) The fashion is boring. I love fashion; I read a s***load of fashion blogs, I read Teen Vogue (which is only slightly better than Seventeen, but hey, no “Love Life” section!) and I like shopping (at Goodwill, but nevertheless). And maybe the fashion has gotten worse, but it’s just boring these days. No fun at all. That wasn’t a feminist critique but it is a valid point; how can I coo over cute outfits if they are pretty much a t-shirt and a skirt on a plain grey background?
5) The perfect girl. Seventeen does such a marvelous job of telling girls everywhere that YES, there is only one right way to exist! If you have any thoughts that this magazine does not address, you are not this beautiful-yet-impossible standard of female beauty that we all must aspire to! I know too many girls who buy into this poop WITHOUT a major magazine encouraging them; I hate seeing my perfectionist friends tear themselves apart because they cannot do everything and still feel and look and act perfect. It’s sad, and it hurts to see people I care about feeling self-conscious because someone is telling them they aren’t good enough because they aren’t perfect.
So, please, even if you MUST read Seventeen (why you must I have no idea) just be aware that it is pretty much a friendly, neighborhood way to oppress young women and girls!