Why There’s a Place for Mindless Tween Magazines (No, Seriously)

Here’s what happens when you piss off a graphic designer: She takes your stereotypial cover and makes it look how a girls’ magazine cover should: empowering. At least, that’s what happened when Katherine Young saw the vapid cover of Girls’ Life magazine beside an issue of Boys’ Life magazine, the cover of which was splattered with creative ideas for encouraging boys to explore their futures. 

The sexist double standard is incredibly disappointing. I have a daughter, and it sucks that she is being empowered to “Wake up pretty” and focus on “the *new* denim checklist.” The photoshopped cover is exactly what this world needs to help all of our daughters reach for the stars (just like our sons). Girls should have those options, just like boys should, too.

But here’s the thing: There is a place for mindless reads, filled with confessions, beauty advice, and style tricks. 

I was a teenager once, too. I had a YM subscription, and I freaking loved it for all it’s silly quizzes and guy-getting advice. But I also loved Sassy magazine. (Oh, Sassy, how you are missed.) Now, there was a magazine that tried to balance “your dream hair” with social issues like “One Girl Against The Patriarchy” and “How sports will change your life.” I mean, talk about a range. But, I’ll be honest, I always made room for my YM (who remembers the ‘Say Anything‘ column?!). 

Now that I’m a mom, I cringe knowing my daughter is going to spend her allowance on cheesy teen magazines that ultimately offer nothing about how to be a functioning, successful adult. The fact is, cheesy teen magazines do exist, and after a long hard day at school — once she’s finished her homework — who cares if my daughter wants to kick back and read up on fall fashion trends? I occasionally give a sh*t about fashion trends, too. Why can’t she? 

For all the people who wish a photoshopped edition like that existed, well it does. Maybe such magazines are not as easily accessible as their salacious, teen-bop cousins, but they do exist. Google them. I found BYou magazine, with articles about getting over stereotypes and embracing your “weird”, and Discovery Girls (which, okay, has made some questionable decisions but overall is an awesome and thought provoking magazine).

More power to empowerment, and if people are going to get all irate about there not being enough girls empowerment magazines — which is infuriating — then maybe it’s time we stepped up to the plate and created more of them. Or at least worked to make the ones that do exist more available. Our daughters may gravitate toward the boyfriend quizzes and the fall hair dares, but there are a range of choices out there, and girls today deserve a little bit of everything. 

Photo: Katherine Young