Glossy Review: Girlfriend and teen love
Like most girls/women, I've struggled a lot in this department. And I had a major epiphany the other night when my Husband said to me, "I can't ever imagine apologising for being myself." He doesn't have tickets on himself, but he's 100% comfortable with who he is – back hair and all. What a wonderfully liberating way to live. If only more women had the same self-confidence. It's a work-in-progress for me.
Today, the beautiful Emily Jade O'Keefe has allowed me to step onto her Emily Everywhere blog to pen a note to my 16-year-old self containing the messages I wish I'd gleaned as a vulnerable teen. The amazing Regina Spektor (interviewed here by Daily Candy), says, "I'm not embarrassed of anything... If anything is, like, good and makes you happy, you should be, like, 'Cool, this makes me happy'."
Teen magazines can't be all things to all teens, but they can give them room (permission, even) to explore their own personal tastes and values without being prescriptive or didactic about what equates to a valid existence (like this band, hate this band, wear this, do your hair this way...).
Treading the line between aspiration and self-acceptance is tricky territory – achieving a balance is key to conveying the message that teen girls, in particular, are all unique without losing cache in the pop culture, fashion, entertainment and beauty departments, which fund the magazine's pages.
For the most part, Girlfriend magazine achieves this with its 'Self Respect' campaign and 'Guru' pages and the variety of voices/columnists it features each month. It encourages positive social behaviours with its anti-bullying campaign messages and creativity with DIY projects, and shines a light on the underbelly of celebrity culture (see this month's 'Falling Stars' feature).
It addresses emotional and relational issues through stories on friends ('Unfriends Forever'), parents ('Rent Control') and being the new girl in school ("just be yourself" is the recommendation), and health (sexual or otherwise) in the 'Good Advice' and 'Guru' pages. The more sensational side of girls' lives are shared in 'GF Gets Real' ('My ex is dating my mum') and embarrassing moments are shared, as well as the interior thoughts and behaviours of boys.
While the February cover and "10-page guy crush special" might suggest love = being with a big spunk of a bloke like Luke Mitchell and there are oodles of pictures of glamorous celebrities (see 'Glamouriser'), which glorify pretty girls with all the fame in the world, there's also a fashion shoot titled 'No Boys Required', "real girls" modelling clothes, and a story for Valentine's Day cynics ('7 Things we'd rather do than celebrate Valentine's Day').
I'd love to see this mag – which has been at the forefront of body image campaigning – become more the Regina Spektor of the glossy world, showcasing even more of the ways girls are finding their own happiness and voices, their own way to live and dress and relate and give back to the world; no apologies necessary.
A glossy worth spending your pocket money on this month?
Girl With a Satchel