Older generations shame Millennials and Generation Z for idolizing the Kardashians and Jenners because they are “famous for doing nothing,” and think they’re bad role models for young girls because they wear false eyelashes and date rap musicians. But the older generations fail to realize that the Kardashians are not the sole celebrities to “keep up with” (and they have done a LOT more than “nothing,” but that is a topic for another day), and girls are still fully capable of having more than one poster on their bedroom wall and more than one verified Instagram account in their feed. A high school girl can have both a Kylie Jenner Lip Kit and a copy of Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie Yearbook in her backpack because she knows the amount of makeup she wears has no correlation to how many AP classes she is eligible to take.
Recently, Girls Life magazine was under attack because their cover stories emphasized “waking up pretty,” “your dream hair,” and “fall fashion you’ll love” while their brother magazine, Boys Life, focused on “exploring your future.” Alternatively, Teen Vogue has become a great resource for girls ages 13-20 whom are equally as interested in shoes as they are the presidential race. They want to know how their favorite musician is using their platforms to make a difference, and they want make sure their favorite heartthrob genuinely cares about gender equality. Over the last year, Teen Vogue has been shifting their content’s overall themes away from trendy youth fashion and more towards political issues, diversity, and putting a spotlight on rising stars that are famous for things other than being on Disney Channel.
Teen Vogues 2015 September issue’s main features included the latest designer/model muses, “The Ultimate Fall Fashion Guide,” and an interview with a young male movie actor. The actor talks about juggling his acting and music career and his personal life, and he keeps the conversation “on the surface” when discussing his inspirations and the challenges he has faced. Jumping ahead to 2016, Teen Vogue’s September issue—one of the first with the new editors-in-chief—features 21 girls under 21 making a difference and sound bites from feminist superstars Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem. There are still fashion spreads about what is “Hot for Fall,” but the featured looks still have a sense of realness behind them (“Here is this really cool body positive photographer, steal her style”).
Teenagers today, and their parents, know that their worth extends past the contents of their purse, and expect their reading materials to enforce that. Encouraging the next generation of young women to be globally conscientious and socially aware should be obvious, but the message still tends to get lost between the Photoshoped images of Selena Gomez and Lupita Nyong’o. Teen Vogue’s rebranding is definitely a step in the right direction for promoting complex thought at a young age, and hopefully other publications will begin to follow suit. Here’s to a more “woke” future.