Indigo Magazine Reaches Out To "Real Girls"

At a time when magazines are struggling all over, a bit of good news comes to us from Australia, where a new teen magazine, Indigo has found an audience by focusing on real young women.

The magazine was founded by a group of women who were tired of seeing the sexed up, airbrushed covers that were being marketed to young girls: Indigo has a strict no-airbrushing policy and uses non-celebrity girls for its covers, celebrating the "everyday" girl who reads the magazine instead of some 25 year old actress who somehow ends up on the cover of a teen magazine because she plays a 15 year old on TV.

Several other teen magazines in Australia are following Indigo's lead: Sarah Cornish, editor of Girlfriend says that her magazine now documents fashion shoots in order to show all of the work that goes in to making one perfect picture. "We try to be explicit in every way we can now about what's behind a fashion shoot," Cornish admits, "Even one photograph on a cover can take an entire day and we don't want our readers to ever think they could just look like that any day." Of course, part of this movement is involuntary: Australia requires magazines to label airbrushing, a result of the "National Media and Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image, which demands labelling of airbrushed images in women's magazines and the diversification of models' size and shape."

The fact that magazines like Indigo are realizing that young girls don't necessarily want to read about Britney's exploits or Paris' makeup habits is encouraging, and filling a void that has been left open for years. Those of us who grew up in the Sassy era still cling to memories of that magazine with a fierce fondness: it was the only magazine that really captured the teenage voice of the time, unlike its competitors, who insisted upon printing such things as "So like, I totally dropped trou in front of the rents! I was so totally bugged out! I could have died like for sure!" which they seemingly pulled from a book entitled How No Teenage Girl In The World Has Ever Talked, EVER or some such.

And so, by focusing more on everyday life and less on "OMG What Does V. Hudg Have In Her Closet?!," Indigo has found a dedicated audience of young readers, who are drawn to the magazines messages of self-respect, personal beauty, and positive body image. The magazine has also been endorsed by the Butterfly Foundation, an eating disorders awareness group. "When girls flick through the pages of the mag, they can see themselves," Indigo editor Freya Holland says. And what a beautiful thing that is: flaws and all.

Teens Turn A New Page [TheAge]