Friday, May 21, 2010

"I'm buying this for research..."

Even from a young age, I've always been a fan of magazines. They promise this sort of life changing power that, if you're willing to suspend disbelief for the length of time it takes you to read the magazine, always seems to get you pretty (if falsely) excited for life.

This is incredibly bleak. I know.

Anyhow, I got to thinking about the role of beauty/fashion magazines in society, and the industry's intentions. Obviously, teen magazines are not intended to serve as manuals for better living. An informal poll of my friends indicated that roughly 0% of the girls I associate with actually apply the advice they get from magazines to their daily life. Save for the occasional "My-Ear-Got-Deformed-From-A-Cartilage-Piercing" horror story, however, these magazines offer little more than exhaustive lists of how to become cuter/hotter/thinner/fitter/healthier/more popular/etc. So if nobody is applying these supposedly life-changing tips, why are people still buying these magazines? (Cue inevitable: "They're not... print media is dead!") Are we really entertained by lists of makeup tips and pictures of girls in intensely-layered ensembles that we aren't likely to wear? (Guilty pleasure answer: Yes?)

More importantly though, what would happen if an actual teenager were to apply all of these "tips and tricks" to her life? Would it actually improve? Would she actually become cuter/hotter/thinner/fitter/healthier/more popular? Do embodying these traits even make one's life more fulfilling?

This is what I will set out to explore. The goal of this project is to simply explore a dying aspect of teenage culture. I will live my life according to the tips provided by the June/July issue of Seventeen magazine and from today until the weekend of my high school graduation (June 21). Conveniently, this project will also span the Most Important and Magical Night of My Teenage Life (i.e. senior prom). I will use this blog to record my findings, and to provide commentary on teenage life/the adolescent experience.

Here are the rules of the project:
  1. I will read the entire June/July issue of Seventeen magazine from cover to cover.
  2. Every day I will utilize at least one "beauty tip" (hair/makeup/skincare/whathaveyou) and one fashion tip.
  3. I will follow all diet and exercise tips provided in the issue to a T.
  4. I will participate in every activity recommended by the magazine (i.e. host a fright night, score your hottest summer hookup ever, be confident in a bikini, etc.)
  5. I will apply for every single "freebie" offered by the magazine, every day.
  6. I will consume all media recommended by the magazine at least once. (books/movies/music)
  7. I will hang all provided pictures/posters of "hot guys" in my living environment.
Hopefully in following these rules I will be given the opportunity to shed some light on the modern teenage experience. On this blog, I will document my project, as well as offer commentary on media and teenage culture.

Full disclosure, I am probably far too self aware for this project to draw any sort of credible conclusion on the effects of teen magazines on teen girls. An initial "picture walk" of this month's issue seems to point to the idea that sarcasm/cynicism/self-awareness doesn't exist in the sub-21 world. Nonetheless, I am excited to see where this takes me.