I’ve always been addicted to pop culture. Even before I started analyzing it critically, I was always an active participant. When I was younger I begged my mom for magazine subscriptions; I had them all. M, J-14, Word Up!, Popstar…. you name it and it probably arrived in my mailbox monthly.
The subscription that lasted the longest and made the most impact on me was forSeventeen. Seventeen magazine was a cut above all the rest. It gave you the inside scoop on your fave celebs, and it showed you how to style your hair, how to dress, and how to talk to boys.
It taught you how to be a teen girl.
The problem with that is, not all teen girls are the same. Some teen girls reading through were bound to feel ostracized and left seeking visibility.
I remember being one of those young girls. All of the models they used were white (or white-passing), thin, and had straight hair. None of them looked like ME. And that was a huge problem.
Fast foward a few years and here I am again. This time in my twenties and with aSeventeen subscription that I didn’t need (but came as a free prize for an online contest).Seventeen has come a long way. A couple issues back I was pleasantly surprised to see a relaxed hair care segment, plus-size (and actual plus-size, not just tall girls with “curvy” figures) fashion tips, a makeup guide for dark skin tones, and a multi-page article for quinceañera-planning. Us brown girls are finally being represented and it feels great!
I was more than willing to take these developments as progress. I didn’t think the writers and editors could impress me anymore. And then I received the April 2014 issue.
Beyond all of the hair and clothing articles was one entitled “So…are you a feminist”? That alone was enough to get me perked up and interested. Granted, I was fully expecting to leave the magazine annoyed and offended.
I’ve never been more glad to be wrong.
The article lays out the feminism debate in a great way.
It highlights the celebs who claim their feminist titles and wear them as a “bad-ass badge of honor,” and it shows a few naysayers (Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, and Carrie Underwood). But mostly, the article attempts to break down “feminism” that is accessible to most young girls. And that is so important. With subheadings within the piece like “You do you,” which affirms that all girls are not the same, “Forget the haters,” which urges girls to exercise their autonomy, and lastly “Be a girl superfan,” in which the author encourages readers to do away with girl hate.
Seventeen magazine isn’t perfect (there are still pages dedicated to booty-sculpting workouts, diets, and tips to get “that guy to notice you”). And some may argue that another cutesy brand of non-intersectional girl power feminism is the last thing we need. While, I agree to a certain extent (intersectionality will always be the most important aspect of my feminism) this is better than nothing. When I was growing up there was no brown girl visibility between the covers of pop magazines and there definitely was no feminist visibility. Seeing both within pages of this month’s issue was refreshing and a long time coming.