In the Blog

By the way, most teen magazines still suck.*

September 4th, 2007     by Stacey May Fowles     Comments


*(or why I’d rather be a Shameless Girl than a Vervegirl.)

I just picked up this story from D.B. Scott’s Canadian Magazine Blog. Young women across Canada have been submitting pics of themselves via a contest run by Vervegirl magazine. The “model hunt” is in collaboration with Wal-Mart stores, Herbal Essences, Cover Girl, and Elite Model Managment, and girls submit photos (that are taken by a photographer at their local Wal-Mart) for the chance to be featured as a “new faces model” in the magazine’s upcoming holiday issue. The finalists will gather in October and the winning girl will become an Elite model, appear in a fashion shoot and have $500 given to a charity in their name.

The normally composed D.B. Scott has some pretty critical things to say about the mix of a magazine, some (less than high fashion) corporate sponsors and teen girls. In fact, he’s critical of everyone involved, mostly the girls themselves:

The pathetic thing about it all is how banal and hopeless most of the young women are both to submit to such a circus and to lend their young faces to such a crass commercial contest in which losing is the probable option. Perhaps there is a momentary buzz that “I may be the one”, but most likely, on reflection, they’ll later see their faces posted on the Vervegirl site and cringe in embarrassment.

Banal and hopeless? Wow. Harsh.

While I agree with Scott that this contest is cringe-worthy for a whole wack of reasons, I certainly wouldn’t blame teenage girls for this mess of corporate exploitation and unrealistic beauty standards/dreams to sell product. And I certainly wouldn’t call them “banal” and “hopeless” for participating. In fact, I find it really odd (offensive?) that Scott points an accusing finger at teen girls and then forgives corporations because they (cough) can’t help themselves

One would never think of Wal-Mart as a fashion outlet, but its national profile and its cheap, sweatshop-produced clothes give it marketing clout. No one will probably blame CoverGirl or Herbal Essences for hitching onto this train; they’ll sell more product….

I have to say I feel a bit uncomfortable saying anything negative about D.B. Scott given that he’s, well, my “magazine industry hero,” but I have to call him out for this. It seems a bit cruel to use the word “pathetic” to describe teen girls in this process, when really the whole media/corporate beauty machine should get that label… don’t you think?

Do you think that girls who participate in these kinds of contests are to blame? Would you call them banal and hopeless? Or do you think there’s something bigger at work?

Tags: media savvy

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