YA Magazines

I visited the bookstore this weekend to buy a magazine for my YA magazine review.  I have never been a devoted reader of magazines.  My experience with them is mostly limited to doctors’ offices, staff rooms, and checkout displays.  As a girl I bought the odd Tiger Beat or Big Bop.  There was never much to read inside – just a lot of glossy posters of television and movie stars, which I dutifully hung on my bedroom walls.  When I was in high-school, the covers of magazines like Seventeen, YM and even Cosmopolitan would occasionally grab me with promises of beauty, love and happiness, but they always failed to deliver anything truly meaningful.  After our discussion in class about the recent explosion of YA literature, I expected to find a similar growth and an increase in quality among teen magazines.  What I found on the shelf were the same empty products offered to my generation ten years ago.  What a disappointment.  The magazines were predominately aimed at a female audience, and focused on beauty, fashion, dating and celebrities.  There were only a handful of magazines that weren’t specifically targeting girls.  The topics included sports, video games, and toy collecting, and of these the only title I recognized was Mad.  Surely this couldn’t be it?  When I arrived home, I desperately searched the internet for alternatives.  I found a lot of the same magazines (and their close relatives) that were available at the bookstore.  It was a relief to find titles like Thrasher (a skateboarding magazine), BMX Plus! (devoted to BMX biking), and SciFi Magazine which targeted a larger audience than those aimed at ensnaring fashion and dating obsessed girls.  The London Public Library has provided links to several online magazines in the Teen section of their website, featuring topics such as music, art, games, movies, health and fitness, news and politics.  A Google search for YA Magazines produced links to libraries from all over the world that have organized lists of recommended print and online magazines for teens.  The most interesting title I found was TeenInk, an American magazine written by and for teens.  It covers every topic under the sun (entertainment, book reviews, artwork, photography, travel, school, family, friendship, politics, history, health, fitness, racism, eating disorders, etc.).  It is a fantastic resource for teens, and for anyone interested in teens’ perspectives. 

It’s a shame that the market is flooded with magazines that recycle and regurgitate the same articles, the same fashion trends, the same relationship quizzes month after month.  So many YA magazines seem to be little more than vehicles for advertising products.  In our first class we discussed the concept of YA materials as a commercial enterprise.  Teen magazines seem to me to offer overwhelming evidence in support of this argument.

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