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The Seventeen Magazine Project

June 14, 2010

You might have heard of Jaime Keiles’ blog, The Seventeen Magazine Project. The project is fascinating: for one month, she is living, breathing, and sleeping the life of a typical Seventeen reader. Her rules include:

  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.

(via Jaime’s blog)

The experiment alone is brilliant. However, Jaime kicked it up a notch by providing detailed analyses of each day, complete with graphs, statistics, and truly intriguing writing. For anyone even remotely interested in magazines, teen culture, or sociology, this is a must-read!

Jaime’s writing is incredibly thought-provoking. This blog post is my favorite. To quickly paraphrase, Jaime has discovered that after you strip away everything related to fashion, beauty, and flirting, Seventeen doesn’t offer much in the way of intellectually stimulating reading or culture beyond the latest pop stars. Jaime laments the lack of suggestions of “recreational activit[ies] that I could participate in without the presence of boys, my friends, or some sort of substantial financial backing.” Flip through your favorite magazine, and you’ll find that this is unfortunately often the case. Unless you spend hours a day experimenting with new techniques to blow dry your hair or practice flirty pick-up lines on cute guys you meet at the mall, teen magazines don’t generally provide concrete activities to fill your time.

As Jaime points out, magazines are not obligated to include lists of rainy day activities or suggestions of fulfilling hobbies. I don’t mean to say that fashion is not a hobby worthy of time and attention – on the contrary, my interest in fashion has given me opportunities I would not have had access to otherwise. Yet the conspicuous lack of concrete, constructive activities that can cater to all readers begs the question: what is the role of fashion magazines?

Especially as I work on my journalism final, creating a fashion magazine with Remy, I am aware of and questioning the role of fashion magazines. Is their purpose to inspire? to expose the masses to high fashion? to promote consumerism? Do they fill the same shoes as fashion blogs, or do they hold entirely different purposes?

I can’t say I have the answers to any of these questions. My goal for the next few years (besides, you know, going to college) is to intern at a fashion magazine. I’ve acquired stacks and stacks of my favorites – among them, Glamour, Marie Claire, Vogue, Teen Vogue, Allure, NYLON, and, of course, Seventeen – and would jump at the opportunity to intern (in any capacity) for one. I hope to continue learning about fashion, the media, and their connection to each other in the future.

I, along with legions of other Seventeen-readers, will be awaiting Jaime Keiles’ conclusion on June 21. I have no doubt it will be brilliant to read!

xoxo Hannah

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