Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Are We Really Still Doing This to Our Girls?

Somehow a co-worker of mine got put on the subscription list at work to both Boy's Life and Girl's Life. Perhaps they think that by giving the PR manager at a children's hospital a free subscription that the magazines will end up in our waiting rooms and reception areas.

She, of course, begs to differ, and I had to agree upon looking at the magazines. 

For the first thing, take a look at both magazine covers.

No really, these covers are indeed from this year.

The Boy's Life one? I don't feel I can comment too much on this one, I never was a boy and am not the parent of boys. But from the outside, it doesn't look too awful. About skiing, the perfect ski outing, the most dangerous job in showbiz, and "true stories of Scouts in action." All sounds wholesome although obviously slanted to the outdoors and an active lifestyle. Perhaps it should be re-named "Active Boy's Life."

But then we have this.
"Look Amazing!! Major outfit inspo inside" (We can't even be bothered to write the word "inspiration" in full?)

"Get Your Dream Hair"

"Steal Her Beauty Secrets: Shhh! Tips and tricks from gorgeous girls." (Because we all know what it's like to look at the gorgeous girls, hate them but want to be them, too. But we shouldn't know what that feels like, that's the problem.)

And the ultimate headline: "Quiz: Should You Date Him?"

Oh. My God.

I looked up this magazine's advertising stats -- age range of its subscribers are 12 to 17, median age is 15.  They have more than 2.1 magazines in circulation, of those 400,000 are paid subscribers. 

You mean there are actually 400,000 parents who paid to expose their girls to this crap? Haven't we moved beyond this yet?

I try to shield my kids from ridiculous stereotypes and unreal expectations. They may comment on a beautiful woman on a bulletin board, and I'll let them know that her body was probably photoshopped or her make-up airbrushed on.

They and their friends are currently mocking Miley Cyrus for her choices in wardrobe and actions. But then we'll have a conversation about bullying, and how it must feel to be Miley Cyrus and have everyone make a parody of her song "Wrecking Ball." (Poor Miley.)

I made the mistake of opening the magazine to see if the content was really as bad as the cover promised. 

It was.  

On the traditional "reader asks questions" page:

"I think I repel guys. I get top grades, am captain of my sports teams and do choir. My friends say guys are intimidated."

One editor writes: It's not that you're successful, it's how you carry that success. Downplay it. Put the spotlight on others, and point out special things about those around you.

The other editor's response is: "At the risk of being a little sexist, flirt. Smile. Laugh at his jokes." 

My response to that editor: You didn't risk being a little sexist, you ARE incredibly sexist for giving that advice to 15-year-olds.

So the message here is: Be smart, but not too smart. And if you are really smart and talented, don't be proud about it, be sure to shine the spotlight on others or rely on your good looks so you can get a guy.

Now imagine that readers take that advice, apply it to their high school education, their college education, and then eventually to their careers.

And we wonder why women are still not well represented in the C-suite of company management rosters.

We need to stop giving in to societal pressure that the value of women in our society is in their beauty and not in their talents. 

I wish I could make this crap stop. I don't know why it's still out there. No wait, I do know why: I looked up the statistics for this magazine on their advertising page. A full-page ad in this magazine costs $27,000, more for the back cover or inside flap. Guess who their #1 advertisers are? Yep, you got it, cosmetics companies. Hair products. Apparel retailers. 

So we may want to tell "Girl's Life" that we will never buy their crap, but unfortunately enough people are buying it that advertisers want to be there.

So I will target the advertisers. Skechers has a four-color back page ad, the most expensive ad of the publication. A product called "No!No! Skin" promises to zap away your zits on the inside back cover. "Series 31" jeans has full-page four-color ads.

I could write a little letter to these, but I think I'll be a little more public about it -- Ooo! Look! Skechers has a Facebook page....

Stay tuned...

Or better yet, want to join me?


  1. I often think about how effective marketing is. There is a great difference between needs and wants, especially in the social setting we live in. Do women need these brilliant lipstick shades, some women I've seen look like vampires after a feeding. What about these low hugger pants, I see a lot of plumber's butts and even on young slim folks. Why would the crack of somebody's but be worth looking at, do you know what happens down there. There other thought I have is how much of our world's resources are consumed on unneeded products of all kinds. How much money could be saved if we simplified our lives and went back to the days when we are not seduced by all this want creation. Marketing firms have been very effective at translating wants to needs.

  2. Wow, that is really pathetic. The fact that people make real money off publishing such junk is just sickening.