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WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?

Teenage Nightmare

16 comments | May 5th, 2011

(submitted by OOC; photo provided by http://socialitelife.com/)

Hey Seventeen, really?  Do you feel no accountability for the way young girls think of themselves? We're asking because on your cover, right below the parts where you tell young girls how they can LOOK HOT IN A BIKINI and GET FLAT ABS & A CUTE BUTT (really?!), you put THIS HEADLINE: EXCLUSIVE! Demi Lovato's Road To Recovery quoting her: "I basically had a nervous breakdown."  We're just wondering what role you think you and your cute butt tips for young girls might have played in that breakdown.  Any?

See, we look at it like this.  You're advising young girls to "look hot in bikinis" on the one hand, while telling the sad and brave tale of a girl who's recovering from AN EATING DISORDER and battling the debilitating pressures of the perfection you're sugesting is accessible and reasonable on the other.  At best, this is crazy-ass mixed messaging for young girls.  At worst there's a cause and effect dynamic that you're just ignoring to the serious detriment of those you exist to serve (the girls, not the advertisers).

We're not saying you're all bad Seventeen nor are you alone.  You're neither.  We're all culpable.  We're all responsible, and the effect is cumulative.  But just because we're all responsible doesn't mean that you aren't.  Yes, you've got articles on "how to deal when you feel like food is controlling your life" and you've got a "feel-good challenge", and piece on how important "your BFFs are" (after all, who else'll pick you up from the clinic?).

But look at the language you use and the expectations you're selling.  Please.  Want a cute butt, want a dream wardrobe, want shoes to die for, want perfect hair, want perfect shine, want a dream room?  There's a whole lot of wanting going on on your cover and inside your pages. Don't get us wrong, we want a cute butt too and we get that want sells.  But you're creating largely unattainable and unsustainable expectations (some that'll last a lifetime) not just wants.  We want you to recognize your power, that what you say matters, that what you do matters.   You know that.  And you do some real good.  You also do some real harm.  We say choose more of the former and less of the latter moving forward, please.  That's what we really want. 

 

16 comments

  • Holly

    Posted on May 5, 2011

    I read Seventeen growing up but I totally get what you’re saying.

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  • Ni

    Posted on May 5, 2011

    Are we over-thinking this at all? Every girl wants to look good, is Seventeen really doing anything wrong by helping girls look the way the want to? I don’t think so.

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    • OOC

      Posted on May 5, 2011

      Hey, Ni. Of course we agree that every (most) girl wants to look good. Feeling like you’re attractive matter. But what we’re talking about is emphasis, and language. We’re talking about how Seventeen (Cosmo, ET, Teen Vogue…you name it) create a culture of want for what girls don’t have and often times aren’t. And while there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with wanting, when it leads to the epidemic of dissatisfaction with self that we see amongst young girls, the massive crisis of confidence in how they feel when they look at themselves…well, then we think there’s a difference between helping girls look the way they want – and creating a want that defines how they should look. But that’s just us. THANK YOU for sharing your voice. XO, OOC

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  • Crissy

    Posted on May 5, 2011

    They really put “get a a cute butt” on a magazine where the average age of the readers is probably 14? That’s nasty, IMHO.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on May 5, 2011

    I am so with you OOC. I think these magazines create so many problems for women and girls. Airbrushed has become the new ideal. That’s just wrong.

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  • Baby'sMom

    Posted on May 5, 2011

    I read Seventeen religiously when I was growing up. But the world was simpler place then. My baby is 8 months old and she’s going to have to sneak Seventeen into the house in a brown, digital wrapper to read it under my roof. I’m just saying.

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  • Deb

    Posted on May 5, 2011

    17, Cosmo, Teen Vogue, they’re all just peddling insecurities and beauty products. I guess that’s a bit redundant.

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    • OOC

      Posted on May 5, 2011

      Hey, Deb. When we first started OOC we came across a statistic that ties right in to what you’ve said. At the risk of butchering the stat (it’s somewhere on the site in the WTF section), it’s been proven that women seeing any kind of beauty related ad (perfume, clothes, makeup)…are sadder when they see it then before or after. So now to put that in some context, the beauty industry spends something like $20B a year (20 billion) on media. That’s $20B spent hating on a woman’s happy. That’s a lot of dough.

      Thanks again for joining in. XO, OOC

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  • Jessica

    Posted on May 5, 2011

    I’m so glad that you wrote this piece. When I was growing up, I read Seventeen religiously and hated myself because I didn’t look anything like the ideal they were portraying in their magazine. At the time, I didn’t realize that there were other ways of being. I’m 24 years old now and still have self-confidence issues, though they are much less significant than they were as a teenager. It’s a constant battle, but it’s a fight I’m willing to take on. We should love ourselves the way we are, and we should be told that it’s OK to do so. I dream of this day!

    Thanks OOC, for writing exactly what is on my mind and in my heart! You’re a great voice.

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  • OOC

    Posted on May 5, 2011

    Thank YOU, Jess. We’re all choked up…and we’re all in this together, so let’s figure out what we can do from here. Thanks again. We really appreciate it. XO, OOC

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  • Apocalypstick

    Posted on May 5, 2011

    I think it is incredibly effed that Seventeen placed their body thing right above their Demi headline.

    That’s like saying “Fun new drinks from LA’s hottest bartenders!” over a celeb talking about their alcoholism.

    Not that Seventeen would write about that. But you get the idea.

    It’s just a terrible decision. So weird.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on May 5, 2011

    I actually have to disagree. As someone currently in recovery from an eating disorder (I’m not embarrassed, just withholding my name because I have a blog and haven’t chosen to make my ED public knowledge yet), I don’t find this offensive at all. Engaging in fitness and educating myself about nutrition has been a HUGE part of my recovery process. The more I learn about how to engage in a healthy lifestyle, and the stronger I see my body get through workouts (presumably what this article is about) and being fed properly, the less I care about my weight. I don’t even count calories anymore, something I never could have imagined letting go of as little as three months ago.

    There is definitely a problem with the degree of bodily perfection we have come to expect as a society, and I’m not saying it doesn’t take its toll on teenage girls. But I think learning to build in positive health habits – like exercise! – sooner rather than later can prevent the sort of hypercompensatory roller coaster I ended up going on. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging teenage girls to be in shape. America’s bigger problem is obesity, after all.

    Also, I’m pretty sure Demi suffers from bipolar disorder, not just an eating disorder. There’s no mention of what her “nervous breakdown” is referring to specifically.

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    • OOC

      Posted on May 5, 2011

      Anonymous, thanks for this. We agree with everything you’ve said totally, and appreciate your disagreeing so nicely. We don’t, however, think that’s what Seventeen is promoting or talking about (on balance).

      Thanks again for adding your voice and sharing your thoughts. See you back here soon – we hope. XO, OOC

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      • Kat

        Posted on May 6, 2011

        Cheers to both of you. I love when people can disagree and have real discussions about why. OOC is awesome.

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        • OOC

          Posted on May 9, 2011

          You rock, Kat. If you see this, email us at Me@offourchests. You’re such an amazing contributor, we’d love to send you the OOC tee of your choice. Yea, not much of a door prize, but our way of saying thanks. XO, OOC

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  • J Gaz

    Posted on May 11, 2011

    Throwing in an article on struggling with eating disorders doesn’t nearly make up for the fact that the rest of the magazine is full of and driven by advertisements, which have been shown to be strongly detrimental to young girls’ self image. Every page is laden with advertisements, whether in the form of an actual ad, or an article on the new “must-have makeup of the season!” The whole magazine is manipulated to peddle things to girls that they don’t need, trying convince them they do because their demographic generally has higher than average expendable income. I’m pretty sure one article per issue on bulimia is less helpful and more just bullshit.

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