Throughout a teenage girl’s life, many influences will come and go, while some will stay and make imprints in a girl’s life. While shopping for Sarah, age 13, I knew how devoted a magazine reader she was, she loves to reads teen magazines all the time, her favorites include Seventeen, Teen Vogue, and J-14 magazine. Every month Sarah purchases the newest copy, so I thought it would be a nice gesture to buy her copy before she does. While looking at the magazines I was shock at reading all the covers , what messages is the media sending to Sarah and other young teenage girls? Why must a magazine be surrounded in the idea that the purpose of a woman is to obtain a man and to look beautiful. Why do these teen magazines allow young women to learn this cultural belief, that to obtain a man she must be skinny, which would inevitably mean she is attractive. Teen magazines are a problem and discretely having a negative impact on what it means to be a female.
What is scary about these teen magazine are that teenagers look up to these models and how skinny and how pretty they are, and then try to emulate them. In reality to obtain the perfect body and to look like these models are quite near impossible and even unhealthy in some cases. Many teenage girls believe that men only want a beautiful girl, and if they are not up to the medias portrayal of beauty, they are worth nothing. Higginbotham writes in her article “ Ugliness is next to nothingness,” (94). Basically stated what many young girls believe; if she is ugly she is nothing. For a teenage to feel important she must obtain the beauty that is so hard to actualize. These teen magazines have such a powerful role in today’s culture. Teen magazine are sending the wrong image with words and phrases like “ways to look beautiful””amazing makeover’s””pretty””flat abs””how to get the man of your dreams” etc. These magazines control what teenage girls’ beliefs of femininity and what that means. What’s most shocking is that this belief is starting to manifest in woman at such a young age, and when bad habits start at such a young age, they’re even harder to break further on in life. Since these influences of media are starting at such a young age young woman are more concern about their weight, how they look and how to actually get a man than school and friends, etc.
Anastasia Higginbotham states “in each of the magazines, cover lines offer the girls “model hair: how to get it,” “Boy-magnet beauty,” “your looks: what they say about you,” and “Mega makeovers: go from so-so to super-sexy.” Their image of the ideal girl is evidenced be the cover models: white, usually blonde, and invariably skinny”(94). This quote only reinforces the ideology that woman are only concerned about their appearances and the way they look since they actually believe that it will help them get the man of their dreams. Does being a female mean that she must have this “ mega makeover” or achieve this cultural beauty because she thinks that it will get her a man? The answer is no, a woman should not be worried about what a man wants or how a man wants her to look like, its what she wants not the other way around. Teenage girls must start to understand and realize that the media and what the media believes and portrays is the wrong image of what a female should be or strive to be. Teen girls are who the media are targeting because they know that they are the main consumer. Since today’s teenage girls are concerned about how they look and how to obtain this “dream guy”, the media knows it, and uses it to sell their product. But I believe that teen magazines must make a step to go against the norm and go against this ongoing ideology that woman are obsessed about how they look, and obsessed on getting her man. The only way for change is to start aiming at the young woman of America and to let them know that what it means to be a woman is to be independent and self-loving, rather than dependent and man loving. Young girls like Sarah are being negatively impacted by these magazines ad have the wrong mentality of what is reality and what it means to be a female in today’s society.
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Higginbotham, Anastasia “ Teen mags: How to get a guy, drop 20 pounds, and lose your self-esteem”. Becoming a woman in our society, A Multicultural Anthology. MA: McGraw-Hill, 2008 93-96. Print.
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