Ladies and Gents,
Today I was talking to a friend online about how another friend wanted to stage a hunger strike. In explaining why I didn't take him seriously, I pointed to a mental graveyard where activists' idealistic dreams so often go to die for lack of many different kinds of things. In this visit, I remembered one of my own activist dreams, which was to start a magazine that was accessible to teenage girls, incredibly cheap (if not free), and completely and totally against the mainstream idea of what a girls' magazine is supposed to be. I wanted something like bitch, or Bust, or Ms. for my little sister. There are some options, such as New Moon, which offer both an online community and a bi-monthly magazine, but most (as this one does) cost money.
Even my hallowed bitch costs money, I know, but I guess I just had a dream of a fun, smart, sassy zine that was everything I, and my feminist (and femAnist) peers wanted to say to our tweenage selves that all girls could have access to, despite access to money. As I re-read an old issue of Seventeen through my new, chic, feminist lenses, I started to realize how much insecurity and social conformity resided in the pages where my younger self so often sought validation. I will admit that the magazine has come leaps and bounds from where it was to address issues like the experiences of the transgender community and to give real, honest answers to sexual questions. These good parts are overshadowed by the astounding amount of negative information in the form of ads, beauty/fashion tips, and "how to get your man" articles that are always present in this magazine and others like it.
I've done my research, and I've found that most if not all of the magazines available for girls seem to come from a perspective that assumes that tween girls will be attracted to a certain kind of magazine... a magazine that reminds me a lot more of my old issues of Highlights than cosmogirl. It seems to me that if you really want to get these girls to listen and to care about what the magazine says, you have to get past that wholesome idea of what a tween "should" want to see and accept what they're actually looking for. The biggest problem, aside from the fact that I have no idea how you actually make a magazine, or even a zine for that matter, is that most magazines get that pop and attractive factor from the money brought in through advertising. So, how does one get around this problem to make a fun, interesting, honest, and accessible option for tween (and teen) age girls?
I really don't know, but I think its worth discussing.
**Note: if any readers know of a publication, online or in hard print, that fits this bill, please feel free to call me out and let me know that it exists. I would be ecstatic even while wallowing in my researching abilities' shame. :)