For Daughter's birthday (in August) I bought her a subscription to New Moon, an alternative magazine for girls. Alternative, that is, to magazines like Seventeen, Vogue, Glamour, whatever. I don't think she won't read these magazines (she absolutely loves Tiger Beat, for example) but I'd like to give her some other things to think about.
Feministe has a great series of posts this week about how to address these awful magazines with your teen and tween girls.
* Ask her what she thinks is real and unreal in each issue. It can be a game to score how much fakery there is from month to month - is the magazine getting more fake or more real?I like it. Of course, you have to take the time to have these conversations, look your kid in the eye, and listen to what they have to say. If you're doing that already, even if you don't use those questions, your girl will probably be fine.
* Are the photos altered? (Show her this example of how photo manipulation makes an average looking woman into the fake perfection we see in magazines.)
* Count how many of the total pages are ads (often more than 50%). What are the ads selling?
* In its subject matter, does the magazine leave out things that she cares about and that are on her mind? What are those things?
* Ask her what effect she thinks an article or ad is trying to have on readers.
* Ask her how she feels (different from what she thinks) after looking at or reading an article or ad. Listen without judging or arguing about what she says.
* Tell her how you feel (give her your feelings - angry, sad, afraid, guilty - not your thoughts) after looking at or reading a different article or ad.
* Express your opinions (thoughts) about the articles and ads.
* Provide her with alternative magazines like New Moon and Teen Voices by subscribing and keeping them in the house all the time. Having them available is like having healthy food in the kitchen. Even if she might always want to eat pop tarts, it’s not the only food we provide!