Wednesday, August 20, 2008

periodical perusing: seventeen, sept. 2008

In the midst of a recent road trip, I picked up the September issue of Seventeen at a gas station. It seemed the perfect reading for the car, and Miley Cyrus graced the cover. For some reason, I care what she has to say about her relationship with Nick Jonas, even though I don't understand the big fuss about the Jonas Brothers themselves. Nomadreaderboy reminded me that I'm quite a bit older than the title of the magazine as he struggled to keep a straight face while I eagerly forked over three dollars. What I didn't expect to find in Seventeen was a thoughtful, intelligent editor's letter. I don't mean to slight Seventeen or Ann Shoket herself; I rarely find the editor's letter in any publication interesting. Here's Ann Shoket's editor's letter:

Hi! So when we picked Miley to be our cover girl (for on of our biggest issues of the year!), we had no idea that she'd end up being so controversial! All I knew then was that she seemed like she had really grown up in the last year and become a totally cool girl. (I'm obsessed with The Miley and Mandy Show on YouTube!) She epitomizes the fun energy and excitement of being young! But then you know what happened when some personal pics were leaked and she had some racy photos in Vanity Fair. People were saying that after her mistake, she wasn't worthy of being a role model. Miley apologized, held her head high, and vowed to do better next time--the right thing to do. The buzz blew over, but I'm actually more worried about the lasting side effects of the whole thing. Because when people slam Miley so harshly for making an error in judgment, it's like saying that no girl can ever make a mistake. Demanding that our role models be picture-perfect all the time sets a totally unrealistic standard that no one can live up to. We have enough pressure, don't you think? In fact, royal screw ups are some of the most important learning experiences in life (as long as you learn from them--stay away from the racy pics, Miles!) So she's not perfect, but Miley says she's trying to be her best...and that's what makes her real. (And isn't that worth looking up to?) XOXO, A.

Granted, the letter has more exclamation marks than I wish, and it seems to try a little to hard to be teenager friendly at times, but I think the message is spot on. I'm in favor of lessening unrealistic expectations for all women, especially teenage girls. I even understand the irony of a teen fashion magazine trying to emphasize the message that perfection shouldn't be the standard.

On a less high brow note, I actually loved reading the entire issue. Sure, I skimmed a few of the high school specific dating advice articles, but Seventeen does attainable fashion better than any of the grown-up fashion magazines I read. Granted, I still shop in teen stores and dress like I did in high school and college, except stylishly. I shop at Forever 21 and Delia's instead of Ann Taylor Loft and New York and Company. Seventeen manages to interpret the the runway into looks that are accessible for me.