Monday Morning Moms: Girls’ Life vs. Boys’ Life

A few weeks ago there was an article in the Daily News about Amy Schumer and Blake Lively calling out two magazines on their covers. The magazines were Girls Life and Boys Life and their covers were dramatically different. The cover aimed toward girls focused on beauty secrets and looking good, while the cover for the boys magazine was focused on careers. Here’s the full article if you’d like to read: http://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nydailynews.com%2Fentertainment%2Fgossip%2Famy-schumer-blake-lively-outraged-girls-life-mag-cover-article-1.2801192&h=HAQH564GMAQF-V1SGiSvrsSLMEqXuSvvq13DsYwVOr8YLPA

After reader reading this article, I started wondering what my fellow Monday Morning Moms thought. I personally wasn’t sure what to think. I’m not big on Women’s Lib and I definitely don’t consider myself a feminist. I am pretty certain I was born in the wrong decade and would have been perfectly content as a housewife in 1950s suburbia. I want tips to make my neck flab tighter and how to blow dry my hair is 60 seconds or less. Girls are obsessed with how they look. It’s a fact of life that is going to take a massive amount of work to change in people’s minds. So most girls probably do want to read these tips…it’s a big part of their lives. But I can see where people are upset. Even though girls are looking for beauty tips and we would be delusional if we thought an astronaut magazine would sell better than a fashion one, we need to make them more well rounded. Maybe put in exercise tips, how to read food labels, or how to eat healthy. How to save a choking child if you’re babysitting or an interview with a writer. How about a step by step guide to decorating your bedroom, building a bookcase, or updating your wardrobe on a budget? If we are constantly telling our kids looks aren’t all that matters, why are the covers of magazines telling them that it does?

Monique’s Thoughts:

I’m going to put it out there that I enjoy a fashion magazine as much as the next person. I love an In Style or a Glamour, I’m not going to lie. (I also love O magazine although since the show folded it is more about fashion and shoes than empowerment and your best life, but I’m loyal.) And I seriously never leave the house without mascara and lipstick just so you know.

This is what Monique thought:

I’m going to put it out there that I enjoy a fashion magazine as much as the next person. I love an In Style or a Glamour, I’m not going to lie. (I also love O magazine although since the show folded it is more about fashion and shoes than empowerment and your best life, but I’m loyal.) And I seriously never leave the house without mascara and lipstick just so you know.
So I can see that the editor of Girl’s Life, Karen Bokram makes a point when she replied to the outrage by saying it doesn’t have to be either or.
“It’s OK to like lip gloss or be interested in fashion … I don’t know how (the problem) became either you like lip gloss and clothes or you like being an astronaut.”
She’s right. No it doesn’t. So why is she only promoting either or on that magazine cover.
“Waking up pretty” and “How to Slay on a First Date” are things a girl might want to know, I mean I would quite like to wake up pretty every now and again.
However, she might also like to know “How to Ace the SATs” or even “How to Wake Up pretty when you left your AP chemistry assignment to the last minute so you got no sleep and you have a date this afternoon with your lab partner.” I agree that’s too long for a tagline but I think it makes a clear point. That would be having it both ways.
What about the teaser – “What’s the best mascara to wear while building a house for Habitat for Humanity?” Or “Your mom wants you to be a nurse but you have your eyes set on Broadway – how to talk your way through it – or what’s the best deodorant for the difficult days?”
Or if we’re referencing astronauts – “Let’s meet five female astronauts you’ve never heard of.”
The problem with the “you don’t have to choose” argument is that most of the time girls don’t even know they have a choice. You can like lipstick and you can date yeah that they know. They’ve got an entire world of people giving them that information. It’s the other information that’s lacking. What about if you don’t like lipstick and actually you haven’t met anyone date-worthy, where is that information?
I’m not a teenage girl anymore, but I am the mother of one. I remember how it was and I see it in action every day. Information about fake tans, boob tape and avoiding VPL is everywhere. Information about the best subjects to take in high school if you think you might want to be an English teacher or a surgeon or maybe a zoo keeper is harder to find.
It’s not the job of Girl’s Life to be the only provider of this information, certainly. (And I wouldn’t hate it if Boy’s Life had articles on “How to Respect Your Date”, “No Always Means No” or “When is Enough Aftershave Enough” if I’m honest.)  Maybe articles about astronauts and female police officers don’t sell magazines and  those about mascara and denim do, although my guess is it hasn’t been tried too often. That doesn’t mean they can’t be in there as well, even if they’re not the headline?
The big question is why do we still in the 21st century treat boys and girls so differently? Why do we expect such different things from them? Why does a girl’s appearance matter so much and a boy’s so little?  Why do we give our girls pink toys and our boys blue? Why do act as if women should be grateful for dates (sorry boys but you’re lucky to be out with that girl smart girl with the perfect lipgloss). Why do we expect girls to conform so much to stereotypes, especially teenage girls?
The Plastics, The Chanels – those chicks are real and they didn’t create themselves (not literally of course). We created them. We perpetuate that as an ideal.  Why do we do that? We’re the adults right?
Girl’s Life needs to pull up their socks  for sure, but maybe we all do. Maybe we need to have more conversations about smart women, inspiring women, interesting women not just with our daughters but with our sons. Maybe we should start sending messages that it’s great to be beautiful but it’s better to be kind, quirky, smart and interesting.
In fact that’s how you Slay on Your Date – be kind, quirky, smart and interesting. Maybe I should write that article.

 

Hilary’s Thoughts:

One of my friends has the most beautiful daughter imaginable, and I am not exaggerating. She has bright turquoise eyes, blond curls, and a killer smile. The first time I saw her she was about four years old. I did a double take. She looked like a living doll.
“You are so pretty!” I gushed as I smiled at the child.
Her mother gave me the stink eye. “Please don’t comment on her appearance,” she scolded. “We try really hard not to focus on her looks. We don’t want her complemented on them, especially since she has no control over her features. We want her to be praised for her accomplishments. You know like how smart she is, how well behaved she is, or even how funny she is…”
I was shocked by my friend’s comments, but they did make sense to me. Her daughter is now ten years old, and she is one of the smartest and most well rounded children I have ever met. I truly believe her accomplishments relate to the positive reinforcement her parents gave her on the important aspects in life.
It’s sad. So many people value the wrong things. Amy Schumer, Blake Lively, and Katie Holmes took to Instagram to share side-by-side comparisons of the covers of recent issues of Girls’ Life magazine and Boys’ Life magazine. The girl’s magazine focused on beauty – dream hair and fall fashions, while the boys magazine focused on careers – urging boys to explore their future. Could the messages be more mixed?
In this day and age girls have the same opportunities as boys with respect to careers. Why shouldn’t a publication dedicated to them focus on their futures instead of the superficial aspects of their life? But more importantly, why do girls still have to be made to feel like if they don’t look perfect there is something wrong with them. By only focusing on hair, fashion and getting boy’s attention I truly fear we are only teaching the women of tomorrow to be insecure. Lets face it, how many girls really look like those in the magazine? And while girls may have the same opportunities as boys in the workplace, if they don’t feel confident in their own skin they won’t succeed. Their insecurities can cripple them.

Nicole’s Thoughts:

 

 
People are too sensitive. People are just looking for something to rant about.
While most of the time I do happen to believe in those two statements, there are certain times I have to disagree. There are certain times where being ‘too sensitive’ are exactly how we should be.
This morning I was at the grocery store with my four year old and at the checkout counter, I browsed the magazines. I saw the headline in one popular young woman’s magazine, ‘Get the right hair for your face type.’ Okay that I get. Women like to look their best, getting haircuts can be a relaxing and rewarding experience. Yet underneath that headline, written in red so as to stand out was, ‘The Best Pick Up Lines For Your Zodiac Sign.’
What???
Look, I’m all for astrology. I don’t take it seriously, and I think it’s fun!
But, The Best Pick Up Lines For Your Zodiac Sign? Like, come on. Seriously, come on.
This is a magazine geared towards high schoolers in Canada. These are girls on the verge of deciding whether they want to go College or University, whether they should invest in their first car or save the money for first and last after graduation.
So why not, The Best Colleges For Your Zodiac Sign? Or, The Best Types of Investments For Your Zodiac Sign?
I’m not saying anyone anywhere should make a decision based on the stars, I’m saying if you’re going to use the Zodiac as a selling point, why not put another engaging thought into the minds of the teenagers? Like college? Savings plans?
Sure to a sixteen year old it sounds boring, but written in the right way; the healthy kind of thoughts could pour into their minds.  The thoughts that could make your daughter or niece into the next CEO of a network company, the next Chief of Surgery or owner of her own company.
It literally starts with ONE tiny thought, and can snowball into a fantastic future.  Imagine a girl picking up an issue of that magazine, searching for the paragraph about being a Leo and reading a list of careers that would be ‘suited’ for her. Who cares about any connection to the Zodiac at this point? Because she could see Teacher in bold, or Game Developer and her mind begins to turn. What a cool thought!
So why are our magazines still missing the point?
Especially in a time were millions of women are voicing their opinion to be taken more serious.
I’m not saying to remove all the fun from your issues, I’m saying put a bit more focus on what is truly more important for any woman, anywhere to know. Is it really how to curl her hair the right way or could it be how to write the perfect resume?
We can find a balance in the way we sell magazines to women, it is possible.
Someone, somewhere just has to take the first step.

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