Posted by: Stella Glass
It’s a grey JTT Tuesday here at Whateverishly.com.
Like Coco before me, I suffered humiliation this week when I had to purchase November’s Seventeen magazine from the newsstand in the Chelsea market.
Seventeen was my favorite magazine from the ages of thirteen through seventeen when I began reading grown-folks magazines. Compared to the now-defunct YM (sleazy), Teen (YM post-lobotomy) and whatever other garbage, Seventeen had always seemed to be bit more high-minded. Interviews with celebrities who talked about more than their hair, articles about careers, college, school and body image, and music that didn’t come from a movie about a bunch of teens in high school.
Alas the salad days of that magazine are gone forever and what remains is essentially a catalog filled with makeup, perfume, hair styling products and bunch of other garbage endorsed by the cast of, yes, High School Musical. As Coco reported last week, the only celebrities in all of teendom are manufactured, produced and presented by the Disney Corporation. It’s a bunch of the High School Musical teens and Miley Cyrus as well as this Selena Gomez person who is famous for reasons unexplained in this magazine. With bated breath I read about her enthusiasm for Clinique “Happy, Citrus” perfume and her groundbreaking opinions that smoking “is gross” and “makes your teeth yellow.”
Beginning with a full page photo of Lauren Conrad frowning as she valiantly attempted the task of inserting button into buttonhole on a model’s dress, emblazoned with the screaming pink words “Get Your Dream Job!”, an article on careers was one of the low points of my perusal of the magazine. Sandwiched between a five page spread which instructs you on which perfume is right for you depending on which girl-box you fit into (Daring, Sweet, Earthy, Sophisticated or Glam—remember, you can only be one!) and a section entitled “EAT FOOD!” , (What a controversial directive!) this article was depressing for several reasons. Perhaps I’m remembering earlier issues of Seventeen with the rose colored glasses of hindsight, but I’m pretty sure that it didn’t posit that the 5 most covetable careers were:
1. An Actress
2. A model
3. A Doctor ,
4. A Fashion Designer
5. A Musician
With the exception of “doctor”, a profession which of course has been glamorized out of all realms of reality by television, (and which was illusrtated in this article by a picture of some lady from Grey’s Anatomy, who I’m pretty sure isn’t a licensed physician) every single one of the careers that the girls polled aspired to have is almost entirely based on being rich, skinny and hot. The choice of actress was not illustrated by Katharine Hepburn, Cate Blanchett or Bette Davis. Rather Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl was Seventeen’s visual aspirational figure. Likewise “Fashion Designer” was not illustrated by Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney or even Coco Chanel, but Kira Plastinina, a fifteen-year old Muscovite heiress who’s millioniare father offered to bankroll her “fashion” line for her.
It really does appear that Seventeen has gone the way of Mtv, most movies and the radio in becoming the most corporate-ized version of itself possible pandering to the absolute lowest-common denominator. This is a far cry from the magazine I read as a young person, where I learned about grunge, Isaac Mizrahi, the realities of relationship violence and that yes, I am still a virgin even if I use a tampon. It’s an even further cry from the magazine Sylvia Plath interned for, and that was meant to create a nationwide dialogue with young women who previously had had no platform for discussion about the topics that affected their lives and the culture they were living in. Instead its now a glossy, scented training bra for Cosmopolitan.
Perhaps the interent has taken the job of creating cultural dialogue away from print media but in my mind shouldn’t it be the other way around? Let the website of the magazine be the catalog, with webpage after webpage of trinkets and perfume and makeup tips and behind-the-scene looks at photo shoots. Allow the tangible magazine to retain something of its former self rather than allowing it to be yet another marketing tool for the Disney brand.
Cold comfort though it was, I was happy to see that the Trauma-Rama section still exists, showcasing reader’s most humiliating run-ins with tampons, digestive problems and accidentally kissing your gym teacher.
So as I weep for a future where the world is ruled by an army of Jenny Humphrey’s allow me to leave you with the following quote from an article on how to stay focused when class is so boring:
” Try to make things interesting and relate them to your life. When you are studying ancient Roman figures, try to picture the hotties from Gossip Girl in their places. Who would make the yummiest Ceaser? Ed? Chace? or Penn?”