Recently I was talking with a friend about raising teenage girls. This is a challenging time (as all times are) for raising girls into young women. If I'm exhausted with the constant onslaught of media, I cannot imagine what it must be like for a teenager growing up now.
Teen Vogue: Ok for Teens?
One thing led to another in our conversation and I said something about Teen Vogue magazine. My friend was appalled that I allow my daughter to have a subscription. Her reaction gave me pause, but only for a moment.
I'm known in our family to call fashion magazines "self-esteem lowering" magazines. And I love fashion, style, and reading magazines! But let's be honest - how many people feel better about themselves after looking at fashion magazines? Not a lot! And this is why I recommend an active change in perspective.
Be Intentional When Consuming Media
What if we turned a critical eye toward these magazines and actively recognized that their purpose is to tell us what to buy and how to look - to drive the consumer in us. Too often we pick up a magazine and walk away with the subconscious message that we're not tall enough, thin enough, gorgeous enough, so we'd better go out and change ourselves (ie, buy things). What if, instead, we chose to look at them solely as a source of inspiration for beautiful colors, fun clothing, fresh styles, and new ways to express ourselves? Then we don't have to toss the proverbial baby out with the bathwater - we can get all that great visual, seasonal inspiration, while consciously bypassing the Photoshopped models that should not be allowed to affect our sense of self.
Help Teens Be Critical and Discerning
So here's what I do when a new Teen Vogue comes in the mail. I get it before my daughter does, and I take a look to see what the magazine is telling her this month. I take stock of both the content of the articles and the inevitably airbrushed photos. Then I do my "mom review" with her and it's very, very brief, because the more you talk to a 15-year-old, the less they listen.
How To Do a "Mom Review"
It goes something like this: "I found one person in that magazine who looked like they had a real body that hadn't been airbrushed or 'fixed' in some way." I point out that one person (and often there is only one). It's generally an athlete, especially lately with the Olympics coming up. Then I ask my daughter for her perspective. Usually we have a brief conversation and I get my word in about how important it is to look at these magazines from the angle of style, color, and design - and not from the "I wish I looked like that fake person in the magazine" perspective.
And that's it. A brief moment where I offer my values and beliefs about something that is bombarding my daughter every day.
Media Touches All of Us
Of course, teenagers aren't the only ones affected. As adult women, we need to do the same thing every time we look at a fashion magazine. Get some perspective, read with a critical eye, and think about the best take-away of all, which is that a little fashion and style can brighten your life - as long as it fits with The Real You.
Enjoy the bold colors of summer!