Looking to teen magazines once more may be the shining beacon we need in a bid to nurture and protect our young daughters and sisters in a world where misogyny, self-hate, and corruption have become everyday occurrences.
Declining print sales means the big titles we once cherished are vanishing, and it’s a tragic demise. But today, perhaps more than ever, young women need something to guide them, and they can’t get it by following Kylie Jenner on Instagram.
From my early teens right through to today, magazines played a big role in my life. And it’s sad to think that my generation (snowflake/millennials/etc) may be one of the last to have had the pleasure and simplicity of enjoying teen titles before the internet engulfed us.
Teen magazines offer the first point of adult commentary
Print – youth magazines in particular – have gone through a series of dramatic shifts, and it’s time to give them a reinvented spotlight moment. Pages packed with dating tips and eye-candy is bygone and modern teen publications are now intelligent, female-friendly, self-assuring, and sophisticated tools for young women alike. They are, for the most part, the first point of adult messaging – like a life guide or a big sister – allowing young minds to become something of substance.
This became most apparent during the coverage of the last US election when International youth magazine ‘Teen Vogue’ stood at the forefront of the political and social conversation both online and in print. And people (adults, mainly) were flabbergasted. Why? People were truly surprised at Teen Vogue’s ability to present political conversation to its audience in a way that was readable, thought-provoking, and understandable. The recent commentary (written for and by teens and guest editors) electrified teens (and adults) around the world, sending out the message that teenagers want to highlight their own interests instead of having older people narrate what those might be. I’m confident that it will spark other youth titles to follow their progressive and diverse topics that reflect the social awareness of teenage girls today.
Ireland mourned the loss of it’s only titled teen magazine back in 2014. Kiss Magazine was our answer to ‘Seventeen’ and ‘Cosmo Girl’, and while the low-quality pictures of Debutant parties sent in by readers were cringe-worthy beyond comparison, it provided inspiring stories, fashion, and insight into the lives of real Irish women. It wasn’t false or pretentious.
Prescribed ideals of how girls should look are over, and teen magazines emphasise that
Young people today literally have a world of knowledge at their fingertips, but with that comes danger, but, thankfully, we’re now well aware of that. Unlike the unfiltered web, magazines are carefully curated and created by experienced teams. The eighties and nineties were particularly rocky decades for print, where pages were often inundated with warped and overly thin images of girls’ bodies. This promotion of the idea that ‘thin is sexy’ created a situation where the majority of girls and women don’t like their bodies – which has been further intensified by the presence of social media and influencers. Editors, writers, photographers, and collaborators are far more aware of the dangers of promoting unrealistic bodies in their pages. Although we can’t say the same for print, unfortunately. Remember this embarrassing photoshop fail late last year by W Magazine online? #RealWomenHaveKnees
Digital products have yet to crack the potency of having an actual physical magazine
I enjoy clicking links as much as the next person, but physical magazines are a thing of beauty: it’s the smell of freshly-printed pages, the bouncy sound the paper makes as the page curves over, and that moment of uncertainty when you don’t know what might be revealed after the next page turn. Having that glossy and tangible substance in my hands reminds me to escape from the cyber world for a while and to enjoy its pragmatic allure. I always make sure that I allow my eyes to fully interpret every word on the page.
Yes, we are consumed more than ever by our digital footprint, in a world where misogyny, self-hate, and corruption have become everyday occurrences, looking to teen magazines once more may be the shining beacon we need in a bid to nurture and protect our young daughter and sisters. There is an emotional side involved in print that cannot be justified by the digital experience. I’m hopeful that traditional media’s presence will one day be on par with that of digital; giving rise to the next wave of intellects, engineers, space cadets, and fashion designers.