As always, I’m confused about teen girls’ magazines approach to airbrushing and photo-shop (see here for a past example of my confusion).
This issue contains an explanation of the ‘Retouch Free Zone’. “DOLLY is all about healthy body image – that’s why we only feature photos of girls that haven’t been altered or ‘perfected’ in any way. Whenever you see this stamp, you know the girls pictured are real and unretouched!”
Wonderful. But if only.
“Whenever you see this stamp”? What if you don’t see it? What does that mean? The declaration does not appear on every image of every female in the magazine. It occurs inconsistently, which raises doubt. Why ‘retouch’ free’ on this one and not this one? And what about the ads? They are never ‘re-touch free’.
Selena Gomes is on the cover. Not a ‘re-touch free’ logo in sight and Selena’s skin is as flawless as the day she was born. Was she re-touched? Don’t readers have a right to know that? A consistent approach would be helpful.
More helpful (though somewhat lightweight) is ‘The 7 deadly sins of facebook’, on online etiquette – how to avoid looking like a stalker, keep control of your online image by setting your privacy settings high (the context is avoid being tagged in ugly pictures of yourself posted by others prior to approval…not so helpful), taking it easy with the ‘like’ button and avoiding angry outbursts.
‘The downside of YOLO’ – the motto ‘You Only Live Once’ and LWWY, ‘Live While We’re Young’ discusses the risks to young people of living by these codes. Dolly asks: “Do these cute shorthand mantras really warrant their sometimes long-term effects?” Psychologist Gemma Cribb says these mottos attempt to justify crazy behaviour regardless of consequences. “When somebody tweets ‘Oh well, YOLO’ it means they’re already aware that their decision might not be sensible.” Another psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack, says YOLO can be used as an excuse to deal with peer pressure or embarrassment. “Girls might be pushed into situations that they don’t want to face and instead of saying no, they think ‘What do I have to lose?’”. Rapper Ervin McKinness and four friends were driving in a speeding car when the 21-year-old tweeted: “Drunk…going 120 drifting corners…#YOLO.” Minutes later all were dead. Brain development is discussed. The frontal lobe – responsible for impulse control, problem solving and considering consequences – isn’t properly developed until 25. Girls are advised to think smart rather than by the YOLO mantra.
Related, is a piece on how to avoid peer pressure. Five readers share what happened when they came under pressure from friends to do things they didn’t want to. Examples include stealing, smoking, drinking and pressure to lose weight and change in appearance.
‘How to silence your inner mean girl’ helps girls retrain nasty thoughts toward other girls. Psychologist Elizabeth Seeley-Wait explains mean feelings “usually stem from frustration, jealousy, fear or sadness…too much of a focus on someone else in this negative way can really stir us up and make us more agitated and upset.” Advice is given on how to stop a mean thought becoming a mean action. Good advice in a culture that encourages girls to be competitive and cruel.
Another useful piece is ‘The lazy girl’s guide to health’, about how to get healthy without striving for ‘perfection’ which is actually bad for health. Sensible, practical recommendations on food and exercise.
‘Gaming gone bad’ discusses gaming addiction. Readers can work out when its gone too far if the rest of their lives are impacted, damaging family, social, school relationships as well as causing psychological harm. An estimated 60% of girls and 78% of boys under the age of 15 play online games in Australia. Online role games such as World of Warcraft appear to cause the most problems because they are played in real time. Players become immersed and don’t want to stop. The stories of two ex-addicts are told. Lee found helped through the Teen Challenge rehab centre in Victoria where he spent two years.
Always pleased when teen mags include a global perspective. ‘Dying for an education’ reminds readers that education is a privilege that girls in other countries are often denied due to poverty or systematic bias against girls. Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen activist for the rights of girls to an education, is featured. She first got active on the issue at 11 when she wrote an anonymous blog for the BBC on her life under the Taliban and why she promoted education for girls. At 15 she was shot in the head by Taliban militants on her way home from school. UNICEF’s work in local communities promoting education is highlighted. “We know that with an education behind her, a girl has more choices and more opportunities to reinvest in her family and community, and end the cycle of poverty,” says Mia Cox, youth engagement officer for UNICEF.
A couple of pages later we’re in summer fashion which has Claire wearing Stussy dungareers for $99, a $129 bikini, in $129 sunglasses on a $400 bike.
The 115-page summer quiz special (which could have been titled ‘How to make our girls even more narcissistic’) features quiz topics like ‘Whose style should you steal? ‘, ‘What should your next haircut be?’, ‘Which reality show should you be on?’ You get the picture. Then there’s ‘Which Aussie hottie would be your formal date’, ‘What’s your secret flirt weapon?, ‘Where will you find your next bf?’ ‘Are you a crush thief?’, ‘Are you guy polar?’, ‘Your perfect date is?’, ‘Do you make a good first impression?’ (on guys) and ‘The kiss, date or ditch game’ asking readers which celebs they’d kiss, date or ditch. All bringing to mind last month’s Dolly review in which I ask why so much emphasis on scoring a boyfriend.
How about a quiz with questions like: How could I be more like Malala Yousafzai and make a difference in the world?