If you grew up during the 90s to early 2000s, you probably remember reading Girls’ Life or as it was known back then, GL. Girls’ Life is a magazine for young girls ages 10 to 15. It’s basically the bible for middle school girls these days and the precursor to Seventeen Magazine and then later on Cosmopolitan. This is a magazine that has accompanied young girls for over twenty years, giving them the inside scoop on style, fitness, dating, and books. Yet despite the magazine’s wholesome image and mission to inspire young girls, the publication has gotten quite a bit of heat for all of the wrong reasons.
Over the past few days, celebrities such as Amy Schumer and Blake Lively have given the magazine’s September 2016 issue major press for the way in which they are marketing to young girls. On the cover of the magazine, the model a 19-year-old Disney actress named Olivia Holt appears obviously retouched, which is a huge issue in itself. It is the article headlines, however, that raise the most concern. With headlines like “Your Dream Hair”, “The New Denim Checklist”, “Confessions, My First Kiss”, and “Wake Up Pretty”, it’s easy to tell why some people are a little peeved at the pre-teen publication. Nearly every single article mentioned on the cover of this magazine is about the way young girls should look — which is a pretty disappointing way to entice young girls into buying your magazine because it suggests that the only thing that young girls should pay attention to is their appearance.
Just to show the absurdity of the situation, take a look at a side-by-side comparison of Girls’ Life and Boys’ Life. (this articles cover photo). The photo of these two magazines was taken by Shosanna Keats-Jaskoll, a mother from Israel who couldn’t believe the differences between magazines of the same parent company. These magazines are marketing to boys and girls of the same age demographic; the differences between the way they advertise to the gender, however, is astonishing.
On the left we have the magazine marketed to girls, which is about dressing for your first day of class and having your first kiss; whereas the magazine for boys is targeted towards future careers and ambitions, not to mention it doesn’t feature a retouched model on it’s cover. It is infuriating how a magazine for children could be so blatantly sexist, however, considering the ways in which more mature teen magazines basically advertise the same content, unsurprising. I can remember a time when I was too young for Seventeen, yet my mom allowed for me read GL because it was less mature but basically had all the same content. What really bothers me about this magazine cover is that I know from experience how impressionable girls are at this age. All they care about is fitting in and being popular, so I know that magazines like this can make a big difference to a girl’s self-esteem.
I hope that Girl’s Life learned their lesson — especially when celebrities, whom a lot of young girls idolize, started to chime in. There’s absolutely no reason why girls’ magazines can’t inspire pre-teens for success in the same way as a boy’s magazine, and to be honest, I think that the magazine industry should know better by now.
Photo Courtesy of Shosanna Keats-Jaskoll, Girls' Life Magazine
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