July 13, 2010

An open letter to Seventeen Magazine, also, WHY ARE YOU UGLY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU

I started writing an email to Seventeen about this, but then at the suggestion of a tweeter, figured it would have more power if I just posted it here. Commenters, please add your two cents! I would also like to direct you to this awesome blog, The Seventeen Magazine Project, a documentation of one girl's experience living under the magazine's advice for a month.
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Dear Seventeen,

I am writing you concerning your headline on your June/July cover, "THE PARTY DRUG THAT CAN MAKE YOU FAT & UGLY." I hope you keep these problems in mind for your future issues.

First of all, "fat" is a descriptive term. It is not a negative thing if it is what is healthiest for a person, and I mean ACTUAL health, not like how your "Health" section is really just code for "Skinny" ("Feel lighter and leaner!") It's very disappointing to see your efforts with the body peace treaty and Jess Weiner's column about body image contradicted with the suggestion that fat=ugly.

By trying to discourage the use of drugs with the threats that it will make someone fat and ugly, you're saying the worst thing that can happen to your average reader, a teenage girl, as a result of drug use, is not that she will have any damage done to her brain or become unhappy, but that her appearance will suffer (again, being fat does not mean bad appearance, but that is what you imply.) Notice anything wrong with this picture?

I know that the reality is that people do value looks over intelligence, and that therefore, the easiest way to convince them not to do pot is that it will make them unattractive. But it doesn't have to be that way. Pop culture and the media, two things teenagers especially breathe, have quite a bit to do with the way teenage girls are expected to value beauty over all else. You, Seventeen, do too, and you have an influence, so use it. I know your intentions are good, but there are ways to discourage drug use without taking away from another important message. Teenage girls are worth more than looks, and we don't need another media outlet telling us otherwise.

Sincerely,
Tavi

P.S. I'm just taking a guess here, but could it be at all possible that your valuing looks over intelligence or happiness is somehow related to your advertising content?

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