Finding the girl’s magazines was the first challenge. The tiny tot’s rack was easy to spot – various Disney and Nickelodeon characters grinned on every cover. But I wanted the mags for young girls – the Bunty and Mandy equivalents for today. They were hard to find, as they were actually disguised to look exactly like the Cosmos and MarieClaires with which they shared a shelf. Each one was glossy; cellophane-wrapped with multiple free gifts. The covers were a busy riot of JLS, Justin Bieber, TV soap stars, swirls and hearts. I went for one called ‘Go Girl’, my free gift was a pimp my mobile phone kit.
What has happened to girl’s magazines?
This one was definitely aimed at 8-12 year old girls (there were no boyfriend tips, and the fashion spreads were from Tammy@BHS). But the tone of it was like a lobotomised TV Quick. The content was patchy at best. Most of it was the kind of quizzes that categorise you into three Goldilocks groups (mostly As, you’re lazy; mostly Bs, you’re OCD; mostly Cs you’ve got just the right attitude, girl). There were true life stories (share your cringiest moments), crosswords, spot the difference (both based on pop music knowledge) and finally a few celebrity pull-out posters.
There was no fiction of any kind.
I find that incredibly sad. I know the same thing has happened to adult magazines; we are no longer reading short stories in our wimmins weeklies. But it seems a shame that girls have followed our lead and are happier to consume celebrity gossip than stories.
And it is just the girls. At the same time as buying ‘Go Girl’ I bought the Beano and, bar the shinier pages, it is pretty much exactly as I remembered it. The boys are still happy to be boys. The girls on the other hand, have one eye on the mags their mothers are reading.
Over the past few days, I’ve been wondering why this is. I can’t help feeling that women my age are somehow to blame. Not only are we the mothers of these young girls, we are also the editors and journalists who write these mags. However, there’s also something more fundamental. I think, growing up in the 1990s, we felt that there were no barriers to what we could achieve, there were no limits as women. All that feminism stuff was just silly. So if there was nothing to fight against, it was OK to let our brains switch to standby, conserve battery, do a Justin Bieber wordsearch. Until adult women ask more of themselves, the girls who emulate them won’t either.
Pass me the Beano, at least Minnie the Minx is standing up for herself.
Elen's Facebook Page