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Old 03-23-2005, 11:19 PM   #1
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Basing life on fashion, beauty, and little else.

Okay.
http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1560




How Seventeen Undermines Young Women

By Kimberly Phillips


Harvard professor Carol Gilligan, studying the psychological development of teenage girls in 1988, found that they experience a major drop in self-esteem as they reach adolescence. Only 29 percent of teenage girls said that they "felt happy the way I am," as opposed to 60 percent of nine-year-old girls. Gilligan suggests that this adolescent crisis in confidence is due to the conflict between the image that a girl has of herself and what society tells her a woman should be like.

Seventeen, the most widely read magazine among teenage girls in the United States, claims to "encourage independence" and help each reader "become this wonderful person that she dreams she will be." But far from encouraging independence, Seventeen only reinforces the cultural expectations that an adolescent woman should be more concerned with her appearance, her relations with other people and her ability to win approval from men than with her own ideas or her expectations for herself.

An average issue of Seventeen contains about eight to 12 fashion and beauty features, taking up two-thirds of the magazine's editorial content. There is usually one story about a new exercise or fitness regime, one story in which an "average-" looking girl gets a makeover, numerous pages of makeup tricks and techniques, mini-stories on what's new in the fashion world, and the feature fashion spreads, which are usually four to six pages long.

For a magazine aimed at an audience of teenage girls, Seventeen does a lot of reporting on men. In 1992, 61 of the celebrities profiled in Seventeen's "Talent" section were men, while only 20 were women. Every issue of Seventeen has a column called "Guy Talk," in which a columnist named Robert Love expounds upon the male view of relationships and women. One of only two articles in 1992 about eating disorders among teenage girls was written by a man, giving his perceptions of "My Sister's Battle With Anorexia." The whole July 1992 issue was devoted to describing "One Hundred Guys We Love." (Perhaps as a follow-up, the August issue ran an article called "Hello, I Love You: How to Write a Knockout Fan Letter.")

Even the fashion and beauty stories are centered around men. A fashion spread in the February 1992 issue called "A Little Romance" featured a blonde, blue-eyed model wearing stylish clothing trying to "find Monsieur Right in France," which, according to the captions that accompany the story, is "all about flair -- looking tres cute -- and searching like crazy!"

In April 1992, a fashion spread featuring young women in short bloomers and cowboy boots was captioned "How to Rustle Up a Ranchero..." The August 1992 issue ran a fashion spread called "Romance 101," which had photographs of a young woman gazing adoringly at her boyfriend. A caption read, "Making the honor roll can have some hidden perks -- like John begging me to cram for the English midterm with him...."

In keeping with this trivialization of intellectual pursuits, an average issue of Seventeen has only two or three full-length articles on non-beauty topics. These articles almost invariably deal with a teenage girl's relations with other people, rather than ways for her to be happy with her own life. There are articles about how to find the right boyfriend, whether it's by taking a special Seventeen quiz ("What's Your Guy Style," 7/92) or by consulting the horoscopes ("The Love Scope," 2/92). Then there are articles about how to fit into the social structure at school ("Popularity: What's the Secret?" 10/92). The fiction stories that Seventeen publishesusually deal with the same kinds of topics.

In 1992, there was not one article about the abortion debate. There were no full-length articles about the "Year of the Woman." Aside from one full-length article about sexual harassment (9/92), political issues were minimized and crammed into a three-paragraph column, which frequently shared the page with another column about makeup or trendy clothing. Even environmental issues were turned into beauty issues, as in the opening line of an article on ozone depletion (1/92): "The environment's in trouble--and the more it suffers, the tougher it is on your skin."

By assuming that skincare is the first thing on their minds, magazines like Seventeen are telling young women that their minds are unimportant. By teaching young women that the most important things in a woman's life should be her looks and her relationships to men, they only serve to reinforce the drop in self-esteem reported in Gilligan's study.



How very sad. On the one hand, I find it utterly pathetic that so many of us are weak and shallow enough to allow this to be the case. Those are not really the right terms to use but I can't think of any others right now. On the other hand, this sort of attitude is a huge part of our society and in built into us and reinforced from the time we are small.
So how indoctrinated has all this crap become over the years?

When I was 6 years old, my ambition was to be an authoress. By the time I was 6 and a half, it was to be a journalist. At the age of 7, I'd decided to become Prime Minister! It didn't quite work out as planned I must admit.. but the determination was there, nonetheless.

My younger sister announced she wanted to be "a Mummy" when asked what her career choice was (from the age of 4). I realise that being "a Mummy" is the most important job in the world, so fair play to her. It wouldn't have been my personal choice at all, but I can't fault it, as it's such a difficult and worthwhile 'job'.

I read about some 6 year old a while back...I think I may have mentioned this before, but I'll put it here, as it fits well. This little girl wanted to be "so pretty" and "thin" like Victoria Beckham, so that she could "get a man like David Beckham". Apparently, that's what was important to achieve success in later life. Okay, so she's just a little girl, and little girls love dressing up and looking nice - but there are more important things to be dealing with, and for a kid to base their whole life around staying pretty and thin is just SCARY.

I'm the manager of a chocolate shop. I am amazed, astounded and thoroughly disgusted at the frequency which little girls (and it is, ALWAYS, little girls) tell me they are fat - I'd estimate about 50%. I don't mean troubled teens, which is bad enough, but girls as young as 6 or 7.

How lovely that this is what we - as a society - are teaching our daughters and sons.


Anyone who is interested - discuss.
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Old 03-24-2005, 05:04 AM   #2
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I read Seventeen when I was a teenager-consciously I had no idea it affected me in that way. I just thought it was fun

"Gilligan suggests that this adolescent crisis in confidence is due to the conflict between the image that a girl has of herself and what society tells her a woman should be like."

I think that's true for women too, well honestly it is for me. What about the magazines like Glamour, Cosmo, etc. How image distorted are those?

I think family is so important in all of this. My brothers and father didn't do much to help my self-esteem, quite the contrary. I'm not saying that as a woe is me thing, just throwing that out there. I think a Father is vital to a girl's self-esteem, and studies have shown that. I longed to have affirmation from my Mother about my looks or my achievements in school-got some, I never thought it was enough. Anyway, I think family can help to negate and soften what society and media does to young girls and women.

Maybe at some point we all can get to the point where we accept ourselves and love ourselves more-it's tougher for some women than it is for others.

Men have these issues too, but I think there's more pressure on women, and maybe we put more on ourselves unnecessaily

I think this is an important topic, I hope it will get good response. Most likely not though, unfortunately.
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Old 03-24-2005, 05:05 AM   #3
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Quote:
But far from encouraging independence, Seventeen only reinforces the cultural expectations that an adolescent woman should be more concerned with her appearance, her relations with other people and her ability to win approval from men than with her own ideas or her expectations for herself....By teaching young women that the most important things in a woman's life should be her looks and her relationships to men, they only serve to reinforce the drop in self-esteem reported in Gilligan's study.
This is the societal attitude that killed Karen Carpenter. And they're starting them younger every day.
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Old 03-24-2005, 05:26 AM   #4
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I miss Sassy magazine. It wasn't perfect but at least it was run by women who seemed to care about these kind of things and were interested in giving young women information to empower themselves.

Or you read teen vogue and its like what 12 year old can afford $234 shoes.

Womens magazines are not much better-they also leave you with the impression that you are nothing unless you are skinny, and having volcanic orgasms all the time.

AND the celebrity obsession is f***ing out of control. I feel like there used to be a market for people who wanted to read about people in the movies NOW its like Jessica Simpson was at Ralph's buying cereal. ack.

If I have daughters i guess they will not be reading seventeen.
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Old 03-24-2005, 05:35 AM   #5
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I was just reading that article again-I was a Soc major in college and also took some women's studies classes and read quite a bit of stuff by Carol Gilligan

This part really got to me-this is so wrong

"Making the honor roll can have some hidden perks -- like John begging me to cram for the English midterm with him...."

Gee I made the honor roll and it didn't get me any attention from boys I did it for my own self-satisfaction

I don't think it's too damaging for girls to have that cute-boy-admiring thing going on, I'm far from a girl now and I still do it but to have it distorted in this way is damaging. It needs to be put in the proper perspective, and it is infuriating when girls are made to feel they have to "dumb down".
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Old 03-24-2005, 05:52 AM   #6
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These attitudes need to be changed. Fortunately when I was growing up I didn't get an overdose of "fashion" or "beauty". I had a mind of my own, I dressed the way I liked, which was blue jeans and comfy tops at home and the required dresses and skirts and blouses at school. I've had problems in my life like everyone else, I just thank God an eating disorder isn't one of them.
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Old 03-24-2005, 05:56 AM   #7
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From what I have seen, I think MrsSpringsteen is right. Fathers are some of the most important figures in their daughters lives. I think Seventeen and other mags have influence on self esteem, but if a father is a lousy dad to his daughter that will hurt her image even more than seeing size zero models with hunky guys.
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Old 03-24-2005, 06:00 AM   #8
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How can you undo the damage of that father stuff? I don't know. It makes it difficult to trust men too and to accept love and compliments from them. It's easy for people to say get over it and move on, especially if they don't know what it's like.
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Old 03-24-2005, 06:09 AM   #9
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On a personal note, my wife has had somewhat the same problem. Not that her dad is a mean guy, but he never really supported her in anything, gave encouragement, etc. She still feels the sting from that-I try to encourage her many times daily so that way she knows that I will always love and support her. Just being called her husband does not show that love.

It also appears that women who do not get that fatherly love often seek out the wrong guys. Many of my friends and my wife have been involved in awful relationships with abusive men. I can't say I quite understand why, but it seems to be what happens.
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Old 03-24-2005, 06:10 AM   #10
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I suffered from an eating disorder when i was a teenager for about 5 years. And it disgusts me when i leaf through teenage girls magazines now, it see how much pressure is put on them to be perfect. I would consider myself a smart, rationale person but it's hard to escape the so-called "brainwashing" from your teenage years and I was a teenager in the early nineties, I hate to think what kids are going through now.
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Old 03-24-2005, 06:18 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ft. Worth Frog
I try to encourage her many times daily so that way she knows that I will always love and support her. Just being called her husband does not show that love.
Good for you-she's a lucky lady
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Old 03-24-2005, 06:25 AM   #12
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I hate teen mags. They are so utterly materialistic and i hate it when my peers get so into them.
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Old 03-24-2005, 06:44 AM   #13
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This report could be translated to any magazine:

Having a wedding - won't be perfect unless you go by the bridal magazines.

Want to get into bodybuilding - your body won't be perfect unless you follow the bodybuilding magazine diet/exercise plan...

Renovating your house - won't be perfect unless you follow the home magazines....

Most are all the same. Make you feel like in some way you are inadequate and that you must have whatever to be "successful, get the guy/girl, popular" or whatever else you think you are lacking...

I use to buy the odd one but when it took up to 10 pages of advertising before I got to any article (never mind a half decent one) and the prices became so high, I decided my money was better spent elsewhere (like on a nice pair of shoes )
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Old 03-24-2005, 08:57 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ft. Worth Frog
From what I have seen, I think MrsSpringsteen is right. Fathers are some of the most important figures in their daughters lives. I think Seventeen and other mags have influence on self esteem, but if a father is a lousy dad to his daughter that will hurt her image even more than seeing size zero models with hunky guys.
Not arguing with you on that, certainly not arguing with Mrs Springsteen about it either. I know that from personal experience as I know many others do too.

Maybe that's why I'm so militant about it.
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Old 03-24-2005, 09:26 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
I read Seventeen when I was a teenager-consciously I had no idea it affected me in that way. I just thought it was fun

"Gilligan suggests that this adolescent crisis in confidence is due to the conflict between the image that a girl has of herself and what society tells her a woman should be like."

I think that's true for women too, well honestly it is for me. What about the magazines like Glamour, Cosmo, etc. How image distorted are those?

I think family is so important in all of this. My brothers and father didn't do much to help my self-esteem, quite the contrary. I'm not saying that as a woe is me thing, just throwing that out there. I think a Father is vital to a girl's self-esteem, and studies have shown that. I longed to have affirmation from my Mother about my looks or my achievements in school-got some, I never thought it was enough. Anyway, I think family can help to negate and soften what society and media does to young girls and women.

Maybe at some point we all can get to the point where we accept ourselves and love ourselves more-it's tougher for some women than it is for others.

Men have these issues too, but I think there's more pressure on women, and maybe we put more on ourselves unnecessaily

I think this is an important topic, I hope it will get good response. Most likely not though, unfortunately.
Agreed - mags like Cosmo etc etc portray the ideal woman as a nymphomaniac skeleton.

My point is, though, that by the time we are women, we generally have sufficient reasoning skills to understand that this sort of pressure is being constantly thrown at us, and to choose to follow or to be different (also depending upon the level of damage previously done, I guess).

Young girls of 5/6/7 don't have that insight.
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