Well, Nicole — I like the culture of the early 70s better. It wasn’t considered “wholesome” at that time for 13 year old girls to feel the pressure of being sex objects competing with adult women, or considered positive for them to be wanting “hot bodies” — I seem to remember “healthy” or “fit bodies” being “in” at the time. I remember my Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy crush days as well. We looked at pictures of these young mens’ faces and their clothed bodies, not near-naked Instagram snaps. We certainly did not think we would be parading around nude or in g-strings at age 13 to attract the attention of men in their early 20s and I’m sorry — that’s what today’s Seventeen indicates to young women.
My fiance, who is 9 years older than me, made the case the other day that “things were better in the 50s.” At first I recoiled — I would have definitely been an outcast then, reviled and probably ostracized — as a lifelong single mother and mature adult comfortable with her sexuality. I thought about the “strides” women have made since those days. But he was making a more simple point. It only took one income to support a family, not two. People could live well, and consumerism was not so extreme. You even bring up how sewing was more affordable than buying clothes in the 50s where it’s a luxury hobby now! Well, most young teens (13–15) can buy their inexpensive fashions at Forever 21 or similar stores, or WalMart or Target because of child labor in foreign countries exploited for import. They can consume their media on their mobile devices, screens and many other components also made by high-pressure near-slave labor in other countries. Maybe their parents are unemployed or underemployed here, also because of these marvelous changes and improvements.
If you truly think that cover and those stories of today are “the same” only related to today’s “culture,” let me share with you who the most popular, bestselling poet with young people in this country is right now: Rumi.
Look him up. Maybe back in the 50s, when times were slower and people less appallingly jaded and these publications less in the pockets of their consumer brand advertisers — selling 4 inch square slots of promo space on their faced-out covers — Seventeen might have had an article about that. Now? This magazine features Kylie Jenner — not a Kardashian sister, so that rules out anybody vaguely of Middle Eastern descent, much less culture.
Honestly — there’s a feature on “red-headed people of color” on their web page right now. Someone’s outer appearance presented as “hey looky thet!” is NOT diversity.
It was better in the 50s and even in the 60s and 70s when there was some propriety that offered a small amount of protection to young women so they could be young teens and have some breathing room to discover what they enjoyed and were interested in. To learn who they were as human beings and gain confidence as they grew. To have some break from the constant ads and consumerism and drumbeat of buy-buy-buy-buy and for your own body: sell-sell-sell-sell.