In the presence of the perfect girl

Many teenagers and pre-teens rely on magazines and other media to figure out how to look, dress, behave and feel about themselves. I flipped through the September issue of Seventeen magazine and was shocked at the content these magazines are selling to young women. I, too used to read these magazines as I was maturing into a woman. However, I do not remember the content being so shallow. This is probably because I thought the magazines were always right and I should follow all their advice.

I felt as though they were women who have gone through the same experiences as I was dealing with myself so they had to know what they were talking about and they would never misguide me. Now, after reading this magazine 5 years later I realize that a lot of the stuff in there has to do with money. The companies that offered the largest amount of money got their advertisements and they name mentioned throughout the pages. As I sifted through the magazine I realized that most of the pages were taken up by ads.

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These ads mostly consisted of make up products, clothing (mostly tight fitted, sexy styles), perfume and hair dye. I do not believe that any of these products being mentioned in the magazine are suitable for pre teens or even some teens. I would not want my 13 year old daughter dressing provocatively and applying makeup while waiting to wash out her bleach blonde hair dye. What I found odd was the type of clothing that was trying to be sold to the young women. It was either sexy or just plain odd. Either way, a girl would get made fun of for wearing these types of clothes to school.

Other girls would give them jealous looks if they wore sexy clothes to school and they would make jokes about them, possibly giving the girl a reputation around school that probably wouldn’t be a good one. There were not many advice columns, which seemed odd to me. I remember there being a lot of advice given when I read these magazines. The advice that was given was about how to pluck the perfect eyebrows, the right make up for the season, bodies, and boys. The body advice was about breasts. This was the only article I would be proud of if I were the editor of this magazine.

It told readers what was normal and what wasn’t in terms of adolescent breasts. The boy advice column was actually written by a boy. I guess this was done so young girls think that the advice given to them HAS to be right since it is actually coming from a male. However, the advice wasn’t exactly the healthiest advice for young girls. It was mainly focused on getting a guy and keeping him. One question that was answered was about a girl whose boyfriend broke up with her and she was really upset and didn’t know how to function anymore.

Instead of trying to tell the girl to move on and that there are many other guys, the writer told her to try her hardest to get him back. I do not think this is something a 13 year old should be told. She is way too young to worry about one guy and staying with him forever. Another feature in the magazine was 3 makeover stories. They took normal, next door looking girls and turned them into “models”. The point of the story was that these normal looking girls did not look good enough. In order to be more successful in life, these girls needed to look good.

The article pointed out all of the girls weaknesses before the makeover and showed how great they can look with a haircut, a little makeup, and some better clothes. The thing that I found most horrifying in this magazine was the models. They all had the same exact body types. They were very tall and very skinny. Usually they had perfect porcelain skin but there were actually a couple models with freckles. This surprised me because when I read the magazine there were never girls with “imperfections”.

I remember looking for girls with freckles because I have them so I felt as though they were considered ugly if they could not be featured in a magazine. However, although there were girls with freckles, this did not change their body types. A teen magazine of all things should realize what seeing only one body type over and over will do to a young woman’s self esteem. In class I remember learning that white girls have the lowest self esteem than any other group. This would not have been my first guess of the group with the lowest self esteem but now that I think about it, it does make a lot of sense.

Most models shown in magazines, movies, television or on catwalks are white women. This gives white girls the impression that they have to strive to be just like the people they are being shown. Mimi Nichter’s “In the Presence of the Perfect Girl” demonstrated the effects that the media plays on young girls feelings about self image. When asked what the perfect girl looked like most all of the girls said that she would be 5’7 and weigh between 100 and 110 pounds. In my eyes, a girl with these measurements looks anorexic. These are not healthy numbers at all.


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