Is Seventeen a magazine still targeted towards female readers who are nineteen and under?
When I read the news briefs of Iggy Azalea discussing the “emotional journey” of her plastic surgeries in her Seventeen cover story, (she confirmed her breasts and nose being tweaked), I couldn’t help but wonder, if it was appropriate of a publication for young girls to be talking about this kind of subject so flagrantly? I get that possibly in the era of the #KylieLipChallenge that Seventeen might’ve felt it was important and eye-opening to have a big celeb like Azalea talk about getting plastic surgery honestly, but it still felt weird to me. Is this how young girls are growing up these days? Have cosmetic procedures, waist training, overt appropriation and blow-up, overdrawn fish lips fully materialize as the norm for everyday beauty talks (now)?
It is 100% amazing to me that when I was growing up as a kid, tween and teen, it seemed as though my peers and I allowed girls who were older than us to carry with on their decisions and experiences because frankly they were older. What did we know about what they were doing or talking about? A classic pop culture example of this (for me) was when Britney Spears performed at the 2000 VMAs. You know the one. Where she shocked everyone live at Radio City Music Hall and at home in busting out of her loose black tuxedo and in wearing a flesh-tone bedazzled bodysuit.
The subsequential MTV special When Sex Goes Pop, in which they got Spears and online comments to break down the controversy that followed her because she was 19 at the time, asked if it was even acceptable of her to use her own sexuality to the benefit of her branding and imaging. Especially since her fanbase was largely 16 and under. I was thirteen (wow!) I watched the special and while some people had valid comments, I fully acknowledged that Spears was older than me and that it was her right to do as she pleased. I almost found it gross her body was being discussed at such a length. I agreed with myself that if I was 19, a singer, and with a sculpted physique like Spears, even with all my opposition to America’s tacit deal with the devil that sex sells, I maybe would’ve done it too. Maybe. (The age of nineteen has come and gone and nearly a decade later, I’ve just gotten comfortable with the notion of wearing a bikini in a public).
I was able to separate the reality that women who were older than me were going to engage in certain things and talk about particular topics. I don’t know if today’s teens are even encouraged or reminded to know the difference. Just like as older millennials, it looks as though they are just trying to keep up with the likes. In adjusting the light bulb on today’s media landscape, it’s easy to ahbor it with its reality TV stars and even occasional Grammy winners and nominees hawking detox teas and waist trainers, Instagram models as the new Internet celebrities, butt implants as normalized as a dental cleaning and Snapchat’s first initial year out provoking young people to sext because messages and pics sent through the app are deleted forever after a certain amount of time. I could see it being very easy for today’s young girls and adults, and young celebs are clearly not an exception, falling under the sea of acclimating to pop culture’s pressure of America’s most exaggerated standards of beauty, or better yet, sex appeal, on record.
“Plastic surgery is an emotional journey. It’s no easy feat to live with your flaws and accept yourself — and it’s no easy feat to change yourself. Either way you look at it, it’s a tough journey. There are things that I didn’t like about myself that I changed through surgery. There are other things I dislike but I’ve learned to accept.” –Iggy Azalea, Seventeen Magazine, 2015
It was honorable of Azalea, who is 25-years-old, to not prevaricate the stories of her plastic surgeries. She was very honest in reflecting how social media and media bullying also affected her, somewhat obliquely pushing her to Dr. 90210. But will seeing Azalea open up about her surgery and love/hate relationship to media garbage re-energize young girls to get their desired nose, breast or whatnot shaped how they want? Would Azalea’s cover story been better suited for an older, 20-30 something magazine like Marie Claire? I get that Seventeen sought to hug their young readers in not being alone in feeling bad or awkward about specific physical trait. But is it safe to recognize this as far as implying “plastic surgery is okay” for their audience when fellow “influencer” 18-year-old Kylie Jenner zooms in on a photo of her extremely questionable pelvic, waist and butt area and posts said picture to her 30+ million Instagram followers, many of whom are her age (16-19), and likely read Seventeen too.
I guess I just felt a moment of concern as the pressure is real considering how much coverage celebrities and their beauty routines and treatments get today compared to when I bought my first issue of Seventeen. It’s not about shaming anyone for their choice to get these kind of surgeries, but more so, the double checking the reason why you are doing so and the extreme level of augmentation. Don’t have these “Instagram models” get you crazy!
“There are other things I dislike, but I’ve learn to accept. It’s important to remember [that] you can’t change everything. You can never be perfect.” Iggy Azalea, Seventeen Magazine, 2015
Seventeen has always known how to handle “edgy” topics with girly-girl details like sparkly eyeliner. It used to be the lighter-hearted version of its bad-ass competitor YM. It just may be out of my league to fix that the legacy of today’s young girls are an odd mix of potential girlbosses that may also be sipping on mint detox teas, dreaming of one day being able to afford a better body part while witnessing the age of after the first Black president in America, our first woman president may be upon us. Feminism intersectionalized, indeed.