By Camille Nesler
A few months ago my 10-year old was selling magazine subscriptions to help raise money for her girl-scout troop. Now I’m a huge fan of Readers Digest and Redbook and my husband loves Men’s Health, so it wasn’t too hard to make selections for us. But with a 10-year old and 13-year old, it wasn’t so easy. They’re too old for Highlights and I SURE won’t make the mistake of getting PETA Kids again. All I can say is, it’s a good thing I looked at that first issue or I’d have ended up with really upset children. Who makes a magazine for KIDS with pictures of hacked-up animals in it? PETA, that’s who.
Anyway, I finally settled on one of those teeny-bopper magazines for teens and pre-teens. You know the kind I’m talking about: Bright, glittery pages filled with pictures of boy bands like One Direction and singers like Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber and previews of the latest Good Luck Charlie episode. Granted, I used to make fun of my girls for liking that Bieber kid. “He looks and sounds like a chipmunk!” I told them repeatedly. “Why would you like some kid who looks like a chipmunk? I sure wouldn’t have liked him when I was your age.”
“So, who DID you have on your wall?” My husband asked.
“I had normal looking guys,” I informed him. “Guys like Michael J. Fox and Kurt Cameron.”
No sooner were the words out of my mouth, then he started smirking and I thought, “Well….phooey!” Don’t know what I’m talking about? Then go take a look at any 80’s photo of Michael J. Fox. Mr. Chipmunk himself. It was quite a revelation and needless to say, I quit teasing the girls about their Bieber fascination from that moment on.
Anyway, they’ve been getting the magazines for a few months and seem to be pretty content with them. I don’t know how much they read, but they cut out countless pictures of their favorite young actors and singers and plaster them all over the walls of their bedroom. One arrived just yesterday and I finally decided to take a gander through the thing. After all, there was a picture of Taylor Swift on the cover and even I’m a fan of her music. In fact I even like the clothing line she’s come out with for young ladies, which was also featured in this particular issue. Nice, pretty dresses with modest neck and hemlines and nothing “skanky” as my husband would say.
Well, I’m here to tell you, Taylor Swift is the exception. The next 20+ advertisement pages I flipped through in this rag were filled with teen girls in outfits more suitable for street walkers than for any teenage girl I know. Jewelry ads with girls in sequin dresses showing more cleavage than Pamela Anderson during her Baywatch days. Perfume ads featuring young women in nothing but panties and an unbuttoned shirt. And, a whole feature on a new line of clothing inspired by Marilyn Monroe which included several bustiers. You know, like the one Janet Jackson popped out of a few years ago during her half-time performance? Yep. Those types of tops. What, exactly, is a Marilyn Monroe clothing advertisement doing in a magazine for teens and pre-teens?
Now I’m not a prude and I do understand. Of course we as parents are going to think some of the “fashions” our kids wear are, well, hideous. I know my mom sure raised her eyebrows at my multi-colored leg warmers and worn jean jackets and beaded, fringed T-shirts back in the 80’s. Well, I may have had no color sense but at least I was covered up! Surely no self-respecting parent would let their kid out of the house in some of the concoctions I’m seeing in the pages of this magazine, right?
Well, don’t be so sure. All you have to do is look at some of the pictures of kids at their local proms. Somehow in the last 20 years, formal dresses have gone from being dresses and are now more like tight, sparkly belts. I for one find this incredibly sad. And we wonder why every time we turn around, we’re seeing statistics released by agencies such as the Dept of Health telling us how teen pregnancy and STD’s are on the rise in our nation.
And yes, I realize that many things play into the whole mess. But guess what? Letting your girls run around half naked isn’t helping any, no matter WHAT the fashion industry tells you.