Friday, 16 March 2012

A rant about teen girls mags and Bella

So this is the latest "Girlfriend" magazine, with Lea Michele from Glee in her undies. Great, isn't it? Doesn't it just make you so happy? Especially when you know that Girlfriend's target audience is 12-17 year old girls.
I'm being sarcastic, in case you hadn't guessed it. I had to rent this from the library because I couldn't bear to pay money for it. I have got to say, what is up with this pose, as well?! You see it too often. Tina Francis from SheLovesMagazine wrote an awesome write up about this for her column, which I loved, where she uses the example of Beyonce: "Take Beyonce’s music video “Run the World” for example. Ms. Knowles is singing about female empowerment on all fours in front of a car... How does a woman living in today’s world define “dignity” when the media tells us we are most appreciated on our knees, half-dressed, preferably in front of an automobile."
And the thing that really bugs me is that these 12-17 year old girls are going to be posing just like Miss Lea Michele on their facebook pages and their cellphones, with no idea of the implications. The state of our world and the trashy messages our girls are sent just makes me feel sick to my stomach.
We accept so much of what we see in magazines, on screen, in music videos and on t shirts and in advertisements without question. How much of it is shaping our perceptions of ourselves? A lot, in my opinion. There are a lot of shows that I just can't watch more than 5 minutes of without feeling terrible about myself and angry at the world. All the Top Model shows, for example. (I know that many of you love them so won't agree.) Glee, is another one. Loved the singing, hated the content, hated how it made me feel, and just had to give it up.
I'm not sure what the makers of the standard teen girl mags are thinking when they produce some of this content. Perhaps they think they are giving girls what they want - that girls know all about sex anyway and are obsessed with getting boyfriends, therefore they need to cater to that with their content and the way they word the answers to their questions. Read the "advice" columns in these magazines, you'll get advice all right - a manual about sex. While they often tell girls that you shouldn't have sex until you are ready, they don't go into enough detail or enough of the WHY. There's no talk of emotional consequences, and the amount of information they give makes it seem like getting into a sexual relationship in your early and mid teens is so normal. Oh, and another cringe factor - one of the "guys we love" in this months issue is an actor from the tv show "The Almighty Johnsons", from the makers of Outrageous Fortune - a show with unbelievably explicit content. I think I might have to throw my television out the window when my girl turns 12. No, I say that flippantly - but I will be watching what she watches and talking about it with her.
Anyway. There is hope. Hope in the form of Bella magazine. Bella is produced in Australia by an amazing group of women from Toowomba, Queensland, and is an alternative to these other girls mags, aimed at 13-19 year old girls. We have the rights here in New Zealand to make our own version of it, and I'm excited for the day when that becomes a reality. Bella is not a Christian magazine, (though those of us who are behind it are Christians), it is something any girl will relate to. But it gives a much more balanced view of the issues and questions that girls have, and is all about helping girls realise their unique value, strength and purpose. With Bella we say that girls are valuable, are worthwhile, just because of who they are - just because they exist. Not because of anything they can do or offer a man, not because of their looks or their body, not if they meet a list of expectations: skinny enough, popular enough, well-dressed enough. Just.Because.You.Are.You.
I love this answer in the latest Bella when a girl writes about how she hates herself, and asks how she can keep her sense of value. "Every girl is beautiful! Bella believes that you are beautiful and we want you to believe you are beautiful, awesome, precious and have worth - not just some of the time but ALL of the time. If people are mean to you, then they are not your friends. You deserve better than that, and you don't need to allow people to be mean to you. It may seem like a hard thing to leave your group and meet some new friends, but if they mostly make you feel bad and hate yourself, then that is wrong of them. That is not how friends act. You don't need to be surrounded by a big group of people to realise how beautiful and amazing you are. Sometimes just one friend is all that is needed to realise the truth and to help you like yourself." (from Bella Summer 2011/2012)
We are just at the beginning of the journey with Bella, so please if you like what you hear then get involved. Find our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter, and buy a subscription!
There are many things in my life that I love and are passionate about at the moment, and Bella is one of them, so I felt I needed to write about it. I hope it's inspired someone.
And speaking of things that are inspiring me, I got given "Lioness Arising" by Lisa Bevere for my birthday, and I just loved this on the first page:

xx Sarah

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