When I turned 13, my then-sister-in-law gifted me a subscription to Seventeen magazine. In those dark pre-Internet days, Seventeen was the teen girl’s guide to everything cool. It featured tons of articles on fashion and boys, both of which made me highly uncomfortable. I can’t quite recall everything I glanced at in those pages before tossing the magazines aside for more scintillating reads (Pride and Prejudice, anyone?), but what I do remember pales in comparison to the stuff found in Teen Vogue today. (For the record, Seventeen isn’t any better.) If you’re the parent of a teen girl (or guy, for that matter), here’s the stuff your daughter (or son) might be reading about sex, relationships, health and spirituality in today’s popular teen lit. Let’s just say it’s a whole lot more graphic than the relationship questions I recall reading in the pages of Seventeen. In fact, by ’90s standards some of these articles are downright pornographic.
You’ve been warned.
Tips on keeping the lady parts in good shape through sun, sand, and “summer loving” of course. Nestled in the article is the advice to talk to your doctor about birth control methods that either reduce or eliminate your monthly periods so you can relax by the pool without fearing unwanted pregnancy or bloody leakage from your string bikini. The negative side effects of said birth control methods are not included in the article.
What could a teen girl possibly need to know about anal sex? Here’s a hint: When they have to use the phrase “penis in the vagina sex” and put it in air quotes, chances are their readers aren’t ready to take on the responsibility of having sex, period. Mentioned in passing is that you’re going to encounter fecal matter during the process, but that’s no big deal because “everybody poops.” The author glosses over the increased risk of disease transmitted through anal sex with a mere condom caveat. Mentioning the fact that the anus is not physically designed for sexual activity? Out of the question.
Lest you think Teen Vogue isn’t intersectional enough, they followed up their article on female masturbation with one for their male readership. Sorry, didn’t even bother reading it. I assumed you’d get the drift.
And one for the Irony Department:
Amidst articles on workout shorts that allow you to go commando at the gym is an article praising an Iranian woman’s right to wear a hijab. Forget that we’re talking about Iran, one of the most anti-female nations in the world. Forget that women in Iran are forced into hijabs by their government. In fact, forget everything you know about radical Islam’s relentless abuses of women, because the chicks at Teen Vogue certainly have. File this one under “Mindless Attempts at Intersectionality” and don’t forget to get a chuckle out of the fact that the woman they’re writing about isn’t allowed to read Teen Vogue according to Iranian law.
If you’re a straight woman, Teen Vogue assumes the only relationship advice you need involves how to get out of an abusive relationship. Spirituality is comprised of nothing more than horoscopes and articles on gay Christian and Muslim teens. Nutrition gets GOOP points for investigative reporting on whole wheat versus white bread.
Keep in mind all of these articles are listed under the “Wellness” category of the online publication. That’s right: a teen girl’s health involves risky sexual behaviors, rubbing crystals, and careful sandwich-making practices. The rest of the publication involves telling readers which celebrities to worship this month. The publication boasts a circulation of more than 1 million for its quarterly print edition and a website with over 27 million unique impressions per month. And we wonder why more teen girls aren’t into STEM.