BLUE JEAN MAGAZINE 1996- . Ed.-in-chief: Sherry S. Handell, with Teen Editorial Board. 6/yr. $39. Single copy: $5.95. P.O. Box 90856, Rochester, NY 14609. Website: http://www.bluejeanonline.com/ (v.1, no.1, March/April 1996) [Print publication ceased; online site and book series information at new URL, corrected 9/03/02, per notification from Sherry Handell.]
HUES: Hear Us Emerging Sisters 1994- . Eds.: Ophira Edut, Tali Edut, Dyann Logwood. 2/yr. $14.99 (4 issues). Single copy: $3.95 (Canada, $4.95). P.O. Box 7778, Ann Arbor, MI 48107-9924. Email: email@example.com; Website: http://www.hues.net/ (no.1, Spring/Summer 1995; no.2, Winter 1996) [ EDITOR'S NOTE: CEASED PUBLICATION]
NEW MOON FOR GIRLS 1993- . Eds. Editorial board ages 9-14. 6/yr. $25 (U.S.); $30 (Canada); $37 (elsewhere). Single copy: $4.95. ISSN 1069-238X. P.O. Box 3587, Duluth, MN 55803-3587. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.newmoon.org/ (November/December 1995; May/June 1996; July/August 1996) [EDITOR'S NOTE: UPDATE FROM PUBLISHER: RATES AS OF 9/2003 ARE AS FOLLOWS: $29 (U.S.); $35 (CANADA); $41 (ELSEWHERE); $6.75 SINGLE ISSUES. EDITORIAL BOARD AGE RANGE IS 8-14.]
MetroGIRLS 1994- . Ed.: Wanda E. Fleming. 4/yr. $30; $20 (students). 4326 River Rd., Suite 200, Washington, DC 20016-4512. (v.2, no.2, Spring 1995; v.3, no.3, Summer 1996)
REAL Girls 1995- . Publ.: Susan M. Brooks. 4/yr. $12. Single copy: $3. P.O. Box 57393, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413. Email: Rgirls@aol.com (American Online) (no.1, 1995; no.2, 1995; no.3, 1995)
TEEN VOICES 1991?- . 4/yr. $20. Single copy: $5. Women Express, P.O. Box 116, Boston, MA 02123-0116. Email: email@example.com; Website: http://www.teenvoices.com/about.html (v.1, no.4, 1992; v.2, no.2, Spring 1993; v.2, no.3, Fall 1993)
I make collages. When this creative outlet and artistic endeavor began this summer, I bought a copy of YM magazine and one of Seventeen to provide "collage material." Flipping through these "teeny-bopper" magazines, I was really bothered by the content.
Such content includes the YM cover story for November 1996, the "YM High School Cover Model Search": "Read on...so you can look modelicious too" (p.34). The rest of the issue is filled with makeup and beauty advice and suggestions on how to get "a better bod" (p.26) or attract boys. The covers of the November 1996 'Teen, Sassy, and Seventeen all feature thin, white young women draped around older-looking young men.
The targeted audiences for this type of material are preteen and teenage girls, the group most susceptible to the effects of these "female-negative" attitudes. With their emphasis on finding and keeping a guy and avoidance of related issues such as sexual harassment, eating disorders, self-esteem, and pressures for sex, these magazines encourage girls to conform to mythical standards instead of being themselves. There is an apparent need for publications with a "female-positive" message.
Thankfully, such reading does exist. HUES, Teen Voices, Blue Jean, REAL Girls, MetroGIRLS, and New Moon all have as part of their mission portraying females in a positive light and combatting society's negative attitudes concerning women.
The publications target an age range wider than middle and high schoolers. "For girls and their dreams," says New Moon, with its editorial board of girls nine to fourteen years old. Focused on an older group is HUES, for college women; and MetroGIRLS includes adults as part of its target readership: "Our audience is primarily educators and program officials; policy makers, young women, and parents who read." REAL Girls is for older teens. Teen Voices claims to be "for, by, and about teenage and young women" and Blue Jean tries to target "teen girls who dare." Both have a writing style and look more suitable for younger teens.
The writing quality in the magazines is generally high. HUES stands out. It is written in a personal style similar to that of the traditional teen magazines but without the annoying slang and "talk-down" tone. MetroGIRLS, also excellent, uses a somewhat more formal style for their older audience. REAL Girls is similar to HUES, with a very personal tone; the writing is generally good. Blue Jean contains simplistic though competent writing. The disappointment of the group was Teen Voices. The writing was in no way impressive, with basic grammatical and structural problems. The language in New Moon is simple enough for elementary schoolers.
Some features of these magazines are similar to those in the typical teen magazines - like quizzes, dating and sex advice, makeup reviews, and fashion articles. But they all come with a twist. HUES has a sex advice article on masturbation: "Women who haven't touched their bodies...are often clueless about them" (p.48). A fashion article is "PMS Fashions: Getting Fly for Your Flow" (p.24). Blue Jean has the "Dear Dr. Beth" advice column.
Other features going beyond the mass-market teen magazines are the calendars of Blue Jean and New Moon, chronicling significant "herstory" events. New Moon also has the Global Village, written each issue by a girl from a different country, with facts about the girl's country following each article. REAL Girls has two wonderful departments: "Miss-information" ("Not since 'if you loved me, you'd do it' have people been heard to utter such crap" [p.6, Summer 1995]) and "Soap for Your Head" ("...to make room for crisp, conscious thought...scrub your brain of all that gunk that people have been telling you from day one" [p.15]). The more academic MetroGIRLS has the terrific news department "Chewing the Facts," about women and women's issues in the news. Preceding its feature articles are two pages listing resources and facts concerning the theme of each issue. The Blue Jean "College Corner" attempts to make the magazine attractive to older girls but seems out of place.
MetroGIRLS' "Don't Shoot the Messenger" provides a spot for well-written and straightforward opinions, editorializing about young women in gymnastics ("they squeak" [p.6, Spring 1995]), and sexism and racism in rap videos ("For black girls and young women these tear at the fabric of their culture and gender" [p.6, Summer 1996]). HUES has the angry but truthful "Kill That Noize," on such topics as "the good ole boy...claiming to be the target of a cruel new form of [discrimination] aimed at middle-class White males" (p.60, Spring/Summer 1995). The editorials in Teen Voices are not as outstanding, being generally poorly written, with more complaints than constructive essays. New Moon also offers no constructive solutions to the problems addressed in "How Aggravating," a space for girls to vent their anger about injustices they experience or observe. ("I have a teacher who is sexist.... It's just not fair" [p.10, January/February 1994]!)
One big problem with teeny-bopper magazines is their lack of multiculturalism. If a non-white model is pictured, she is white-looking, with relatively pale skin and Caucasian features. Because HUES' editors wanted "to create a magazine that gave women of all cultures, shapes, sizes and lifestyles a space to speak for themselves" (p.3, Spring/Summer 1995), HUES is a magazine that looks like real life. There are articles celebrating and discussing cultural differences, but even the fact that the magazine does not ignore them is a relief.
New Moon does not exactly ignore non-white girls. Rather, a statement such as "When she started playing golf as a young girl, ReNae Johnson realized she was the only African American on the course" is treated as a highlight. The young women appear in the magazine because they did something as non-white girls. Teen Voices, MetroGIRLS, and Blue Jean, while they do not celebrate differences as HUES does, do not treat a non-white female's accomplishments any different than they would a white female's. They rarely deal directly with the issue of multiculturalism; that is not their mission or purpose.
Lesbianism is generally passed over. HUES, MetroGIRLS, and REAL Girls all address sexuality issues, but it is apparent they are targeting straight women: "See, we know...you like boys (REAL Girls, v.1, no.1, p.4).
So these magazines are not perfect. Still, they decisively surpass stereotypical teen magazines as female-affirming material. Their point is that no woman has to live up to the ideal of perfection spouted by the teeny-bopper magazines. As reading material - or collage material - I would much prefer these over YM or Seventeen.
[Megan Scanlon, age 17, attends East High School in Madison, Wisconsin, where she participates in varsity swimming and track. She is also a member of the Young Feminist Task Force of Wisconsin N.O.W. and the Dane County Youth Board. Next year she hopes to do some community service work in South America, then will attend either the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Michigan, or the University of California-Berkeley.]
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