Do Teen Magazines Teach Girls To Hate Their Bodies?

Illustration for article titled Do Teen Magazines Teach Girls To Hate Their Bodies?

UK papers Telegraph and Guardian both published findings from a report by Women In Journalism — namely, that websites of magazines for teenage girls are urging the girls to upload photographs of themselves and post ratings of their bodies, much as the "lad mag" sites do. While the teen sites don't exactly approach "Assess My Breasts" territory, they are extremely close: Bliss, a British teen magazine, had a "How Sexy Am I?" feature, which asked girls to rate their own bodies with options like "beautiful" or "ewww." The section, which was recently taken down, had 10 body parts — including tummy, thighs, legs and breasts — about which the teens could choose "happy" or "hate 'em."

The site run by Bliss also has an "Airbrush Me" section which will give your photos "a celebrity makeover" — taking out red eye and zits.

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Another site, run by Mizz magazine, asks readers to rate "lush lads" — pictures of shirtless boys. Maybe turnabout is fair play, but the message — that only the surface matters — is what sticks. The report states that in a study of 3,000 young women, more than half of 16- to 25-year-olds said that the media makes them feel that "being pretty and thin" is the most important thing.

Fiona Bawdon, the author of the WIJ report, says, "The message that you get in the editorial sections (of magazines), if a girl was to write in saying her nose was too big, is that you are fine as you are." But the websites do not have that editorial voice of assurance. "Should a teen magazine really be encouraging young girls to think in terms of 'hating' their still developing bodies?" And we're wondering — is there anyone out there who still thinks the next generation is going to turn out okay?

Girls' Websites Criticised For 'Lad Mag' Tactics [Telegraph]
Websites Aimed At Teenage Girls Using Lads' Mag Tactics [Guardian]
Earlier: Feeling Sexually-Objectified? It Could Be Your Own Damn Fault
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DISCUSSION

flyoverstate-old
flyoverstate

Biscuit Dough is right. For decades, things have been bad, that particular decade's horror or tragedy. It is hard, and getting harder, because so much information is so readily available. But as a parent, your job is to counteract that information. You raise your kid to judge that information, to be a "smart, strong" kid that can tell the difference between a celebutard making stupid decisions and real people making right choices. I am not a perfect parent, by no means. But my kid knows where our shelter for abused women is, because every year on his birthday and Christmas, we go there to donate toys and books. Our particular shelter seems to get a lot of other stuff, but people forget that these women often bring children, and the children have nothing when they come. I want him to understand that he is very, very blessed and others are not. He has also helped me volunteer for Toys For Tots, for feeding programs at Thanksgiving and Christmas, for Special Olympics, for Habitat for Humanity, and other things specific to our community. He doesn't get too caught up in the lives of celebrities because I try to have him focus on the lives of real people around us that we can help. We don't have time to concentrate on the foolish.

Does this make us wonderful and special and great? No. It makes us normal people in a normal community doing normal things. I have a little boy that I truly hope I am teaching how to judge what matters and what doesn't. Only time will tell if I am successful. He may very well turn out to be a jerk. But if he does, he will be a jerk with a Mom that did her best to prevent it.