Powerful or Powerless Essay

Powerful or Powerless

Magazine publishers are continuously fighting to stay relevant and fresh to their audience. Teens tend to be the largest group vulnerable to advertising and the influence of magazines because they are in the very imperative identity-forming stage of life, and they tend to seek out magazines for answers and guidance. Furthermore, teen girls are the most apt and vulnerable to the ads in magazines because they are trying to find their place in society and construct their definition of femininity according to what they observe. In today’s culture, young women link beauty and sexuality with power and a strong standpoint in society. Although advertising promotes new products to improve people’s lifestyles, advertisers in Seventeen magazines target teen girls using a fantasized model causing the reader’s self esteem to go down and creating an easy opportunity to sell their product to the vulnerable reader to cover the flaws these girls believe they have.

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In Seventeen magazines there are many subtle signs and imagery that is directed towards the young women reading the magazine that cue them to believe that sexuality is power. Seventeen magazines’ message of gaining self worth through emphasized femininity and beauty resonates with teen girls, regardless of class or race. Teen girls define this sexualized power as the ability to control one’s own life. Likewise, teen girls often use exaggerated sexuality to resist outside control of their lives. Young women are being taught to flaunt their sexuality even if they don’t understand it, and they are told their body is their best asset.

The girls take the fantasized models that they have seen in ads and overstate what they see because the models make their self esteem go down and teen girls want to be like those powerful models. The constant ads containing the sexualized female depictions perpetuate the idea that women don’t have power without sexuality and beauty. This makes the teen readers want to buy the products being advertised so that they can be like those fantasized models of women.

The products most advertised in Seventeen magazines are beauty-related products and clothing. This all goes along with the idea of beauty being power. The models in the ads all appear to have flawless skin and features and are shown to be happy, enjoying life, and their new products and wardrobes. The ads also use very attractive celebrities advertising the products, making the young readers want that product even more because if that celebrity uses it then it must really work. One example of an ad is the perfume by Beyonce called “Heat.” The ad depicts Beyonce in a dominant pose looking beautiful and “hot.” Over the top of her breasts it states, “Feel the Rush.” This ad clearly is directed at trying to get the young teen girls to buy this perfume because Beyonce made it, and she looks beautiful and powerful in the ad. That makes the teen girl want to be like Beyonce. Another example would be the ads for the Candie’s clothing line.

The ad depicts Brittney Spears in a powerful, sexual pose wearing the Candie’s clothing and the ad’s color scheme is pink. This ad gets the teen girls to want to buy this clothing because Brittney Spears wears it, and she looks sexy and powerful in the clothing. Similarly, the front cover of Seventeen magazines is a huge ad in itself to sell the magazine. The front cover of the magazine always has a beautiful celebrity with a warm inviting smile with colorful clothes on and the whole front cover is full of bright colors. It says many things, such as “Get Perfect Hair!”, “The Best Makeup Tips”, and “Things about Sex No One Ever Told You.” These sayings are clearly advertised towards teen girls intriguing them to buy their magazine so they can learn how to make themselves the most beautiful and powerful as they can be. Also, it’s promoting teen girls to use their sexuality to make themselves like the fantasized models they see. The ads in Seventeen are all targeting these teen girls by making them feel like they need these beauty products to make them look and feel better. These ads are all so detrimental to the self esteem of the young teen girls of our decade. These advertisements and articles are forcing our generation of teen girls to grow up so fast and feel like they need to look like these fantasized models to be successful in life and to even just get a boy.

They feel they need to have a perfectly skinny body and perfect hair and makeup to be successful. It is seen all too often young girls trying to be like these models and trying to fit in. From the time these teens were just little girls they were trying on their mothers’ lipstick and playing dress-up and putting on high heels just waiting to grow up and be attractive and feel feminine and powerful. The advertisements are teaching the girls to think that using their sexuality and beauty is the key to success and the most important thing in life. It’s interesting that they don’t mention anything about dealing with school or any activities more related to their age group. The ads make the world seem to these teens as though beauty and getting boys is what makes the world go around. It seems as though that’s all they need to achieve in life to be powerful women. Another concept noticed about Seventeen magazines is that the readers are not actually seventeen. The majority of the readers are between the ages of twelve and sixteen. By the time the girls reach the age of seventeen they are typically either not into magazines anymore or they are reading more adult magazines such as Cosmopolitan. Either way the title Seventeen does not actually attract seventeen year old readers.

Overall, this constant pushing of beauty advertisements on teen girls will always be a never ending cycle of wanting to be perfect like the fantasized models. These young girls will never feel good enough or up to standards when they realize that all these products they keep buying and testing out are not making them look like the models. When the girls mature and realize that these models are mostly photo-edited and that no woman will ever look like that without a whole complexity of modifications, these girls will feel even worse about themselves because they know that those models are an expected fantasy of this whole world and they will never be able to look perfect like that. Although all these advertisements promote new products to promote people’s lives, advertisers in Seventeen magazines target teen girls using a fantasized model causing the reader’s self esteem to go down and creating an easy and abundant opportunity to sell their product to the vulnerable reader to enhance those flaws. The enhancement of flaws will always be an important aspect of our world today and these ads will just keep coming. Therefore, we need to teach our young teen girls of today the concept of reality and to be confident with themselves. In actuality, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Works Cited

Seventeen Magazine. n.d. n. page. Print.


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