16 July 2010
I think it all started when I read the first line of the post, “I am writing you concerning your headline on your June/July cover, ‘THE PARTY DRUG THAT CAN MAKE YOU FAT & UGLY.’ I hope you keep these problems in mind for your future issues.” I think after reading this it just turned into one of those moments like when you’re at the mall and you see two friends fighting about who slept with whose boyfriend and you just know, “This is gonna be good”. Of course, it’s Seventeen Magazine and anyone over the age of seventeen would no doubt have a trilogy of novels to write on the grievances of the advice given to seventeen-year-olds at the erroneous hand of middle twenty-something-year-olds. But this letter was entertaining not just because of its cynical quality that I just can’t get enough of, but simply because it was just so damn smart.
“First of all, ‘fat’ is a descriptive term. It is not a negative thing if it is what is healthiest for a person, and I mean ACTUAL health, not like how your ‘Health’ section is really just code for ‘Skinny’ (‘Feel lighter and leaner!’)” To tell the truth, I was pretty ambivalent when it came to this letter. I did agree with the fact that Seventeen supposedly prides itself of providing preteen and young teenage girls with ‘empowering’ advice is in fact well, far from empowering. However, when the writer repudiated Seventeen for using a loss of beauty as a deterrent for drug use, I had to side with Seventeen. My own personal reasons for not smoking cigarettes and marijuana, or popping pills is that I am heavily self-conscious and I for one would not like to do anything to feed that emotion. Is it so outlandish to tell girls who are in the aesthetic and physical prime of their lives that doing drugs will force them out of this stage faster than they would like? Perhaps using the facts would work in a magazine like Cosmopolitan where the target reader is much older and way more informed but it would fail if used with the readers of Seventeen who barely know their own body chemistry. The writer than interjects that Seventeen is too focused on building girls’ physical image at the expense of building a positive body image by showing a pie chart breaking down the allocation of ads by type and percent in a pie chart. The results, at least to me, were none too surprising but I was however impressed by the writer’s acumen in analyzing the nuances of the magazine. All in all I felt it was a great letter and if read wouldn’t fall on deaf ears. Choose for yourself by reading the letter at Style Rookie here.