Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I recently came across The Seventeen Magazine Project, in which a Pennsylvania teen decided to take on the challenge (in her mind) torture of reading the entire June/July 2010 issue of the mag and applying all tips, tricks, and advice directly to her daily life for a month, in hopes of "shed[ding] some light on the modern teenage experience." Would she actually become cuter/hotter/thinner/fitter/healthier/more popular? Will her life be more fulfilling if she cuts out pictures of Taylor Lautner and tapes them to her walls?

Here were her rules for the project:
  1. I will read the entire June/July issue of Seventeen magazine from cover to cover.
  2. Every day I will utilize at least one "beauty tip" (hair/makeup/skincare/whathaveyou) and one fashion tip.
  3. I will follow all diet and exercise tips provided in the issue to a T.
  4. I will participate in every activity recommended by the magazine (i.e. host a fright night, score your hottest summer hookup ever, be confident in a bikini, etc.)
  5. I will apply for every single "freebie" offered by the magazine, every day.
  6. I will consume all media recommended by the magazine at least once. (books/movies/music)
  7. I will hang all provided pictures/posters of "hot guys" in my living environment.
Check out the project to see her thoughts. She is what I definitely would call a modern teen. A Girl Of The Times. She's a smart cookie, well-informed, opinionated. Apparently not very girly (she says at one point she thinks her mom is happy to see her dolling up), but she's cute as a button and snarky as all get-out. She finds the magazine ridiculous and has since started a campaign against the mainstream media and its "inaccurate and unfair representations of teens, women, and humanity as a whole."

I don't disagree with her on any of these subjects, but I am just so taken aback by this girl. As my friend Morgan said, "I wish I was that cool, smart, original and mature at 18." I had no clue. I LOVED Seventeen, and I devoured Sassy and Teen as well. I was the wanna be poster girl for these mags at times. Pre-teen me made books with pictures of the boys (Johnny Depp and River Phoenix were pretty dominant in my odes) I thought were cute. And as a high schooler, I tried all the tips and tricks to tame my frizzy hair and get a better tan.

Now at 27, I'm an intelligent girl. I'm a professional librarian, for God's sake. I have (mostly) respectable tastes in literature and music... but if you put a copy of Cosmopolitan in front of me, you've lost my attention for a good 3 hours. I WILL read it cover to cover. Let's face it, Cosmo is just an "adult" version of Teen. Same cute boys, same beauty tricks, just add anti-aging/sagging and lots of sex tips instead of PMS advice and first-time eyebrow tweezing how-to's (well, yeah... that's there too). I'm not saying all the advice is good and the writers are gods of beauty and relationship advice -- it's mostly for entertainment, really -- but the point is... I genuinely enjoy reading it.

Above is the front of Seventeen from the month I actually turned 17 (October 1999). Hey Leelee. Nice velour. I remember those days being happy, fleeting days, full of the monotony of high school and a full social calendar. I was seemingly carefree. My biggest worries were leaving for college, not wrecking my car, and spending time with my boyfriend and friends. I loved going to the lake and high school football games, ogling the cute artsy boys who intimidated me then but I would befriend later in life, sneaking off to drink beer in cow pastures, hanging out with my family, and listening to Tim McGraw. In fact, I was 17 the year the song "Seventeen" (below) came out, and I remember thinking it was the perfect portrayal of that feeling at the time. (Make fun all you want, but you know it's true.) Never did feminism or the media's poor body image portrayals cross my mind, nor would the idea of conducting an experiment to prove my point in such a big way have come into my head. I just had "better" things to do with my time. Here's Jamie's bio from her site:
Jamie Keiles is an 18-year-old high school senior from Pennsylvania. Her interests include sociology, reading periodicals, and urban cycling. She will be studying economics and gender studies at the University of Chicago in the fall of 2010.
 Mine would have read:

Lauren is an 18-year-old high school senior from Alabama. Her interests include her boyfriend, reading Danielle Steele novels, country music, drinking Zima with jolly ranchers for fruity flavor, loving George W. Bush, and participating in far too many high school activities than she can truly contribute to as an effort to beef up her resume and get as many scholarships as possible.

Yeah, I was kind of lame. But that's not the point. So I wonder. Was I naive? Was I apathetic/unaware of these issues because I was in my own little world and didn't think about it? Or is this girl out of the norm? I know that 17-year-old me would have found her far too serious to hang out with. Life is too short to get your panties in a wad, ya know. It's just a magazine. And 27-year-old me probably would think the same, to tell you the truth. 

An ode to 17-year-old me:

1 comment:

RRB said...

Pass Taylor needs a Zima with a sour apple jolly rancher. :)