Covergirl – Helpful Stuff

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Keep it simple – When kid’s have questions, the best thing you can do is be as honest and simply straightforward as possible. Complicated answers are not only hard to understand but can lead to more complicated questions! Don’t over explain and try to keep it as age appropriate as possible.

Maintain some boundaries – Stress to younger children that grown-up magazines are just that – for grown-ups.

It’s all about the money – Explain that magazines rely on advertising, even when it doesn’t really look like advertising and that they often are telling us to buy things because they have been paid to, not because they really care about our needs.

Attention seeking – Talk about how attention grabbing covers are the best way to get people to pick their magazine over another on the shelf, it’s how a magazine competes with others for readers and sometimes partial nudity or a lot of skin is the way they do this. Ask your kids/teens if they think this is a good idea? How could they do this some other way?

Start on their level – Try to use the articles in your child or teens magazine as a starting point for discussion, this can help you gain some insight into their views and point of view. Try not to turn it into a lecture though!

View from the other side – Help them see the magazines they read from a different point of view. For example: is it sexist or racist? Does it perpetuate stereotypes?  Is it’s focus on health or aesthetics?

You can’t be what you can’t see – Try to expose them to role models who are famous or revered for their accomplishments and actions to try and counteract all the emphasis on beauty and celebrity.

Keeping it light – What would the model on the cover say if she/he could talk?! Try to make the connection between the picture and the real person in the picture. They might not like what they are doing, they could be cold or uncomfortable! What does your child think? and what do they really look like they are thinking on the cover? This can be quite a funny game sometimes!

Real vs. Imaginary – Point out Photoshop images when you see them – talk about how they distort bodies or create false ideas of reality, again this can be quite lighthearted, especially when talking to younger kids…. “imagine how none of your trousers would fit if your legs really were that much longer than your body!”. With older kids perhaps emphasise how no one’s body really looks like that…etc.

Playtime – Put “Photoshop fail” into a google image search and have a little giggle at it’s ridiculousness.

Peer presence  – Ask your kids what they might say to a friend who was feeling bad about themselves after viewing images that were altered. Encourage them to celebrate their own inner qualities and characteristics and those of their friends and focus on what can make them feel good and happy outside of the media universe.

The Vagenda – Using humour, arguably the greatest weapon, to deconstruct not just magazines but media depictions of women and stereotypes in general. The website features an open-door policy for submissions and now an awesomely insightful and hilarious book The Vagenda is for everyone (older teens and up though maybe) and everyone should read it!

Here are some great and positive online magazine alternatives:

Rookie Magazine – Started by fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson at the tender age of 13 (aimed towards younger teens and tweens). Rookie is an online magazine created in response to Gevinson’s frustration at not finding magazine content that interested or spoke to her in a real way. The magazine features contributions from journalists, celebrities and readers themselves and happily marries fashion with feminism in an unapologetic, age appropriate and non-prescriptive way.

Lenny Letter – An online magazine started by Lena Dunham of Girls fame and her long-time collaborator Jenni Konner, aimed at everyone from older teens and millennials to the more mature women of the world.  The magazine has many contributors from celebrities and journalists to writers, artists and professionals. It centres around health, style, politics arts and friendships all with a feminist point of view.

Shameless – An online magazine providing a voice for young women and trans youth, based out of Canada. Featuring arts, culture and current events it aims to promote diversity in its readers and contributors.

New Moon – An online magazine started by a mother inspired by her twin girls in the 90’s. New Moon is subscription site for both kids and parents pairing an online community with the magazine elements. Promoting empathy, problem solving, meaningful relationships and self expression.

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