Teen Vogue is a magazine geared towards teen girls and their interests. Up until recently, publications like Teen Vogue considered these interests to exclusively be topics like fashion and celebrity gossip. Teen Vogue has taken the first steps in taking teen girls seriously as people who pay attention to the world around them. The magazine has made a noticeable shift towards writing more articles about politics, current affairs and social issues. You don’t have to be a teenage girl to value this shift. It’s a shift that acknowledges that teen girls can care about what best shade of eyeshadow to buy and the career history of your Secretary of Education. The Foghorn applauds Teen Vogue’s new shift, as well as any other teen publications that treat teenage girls as more than simple stereotypes.
In the past two years, Teen Vogue has published articles like “Donald Trump is Gaslighting America” and “What’s Happening at Standing Rock, from 2 Native American Girls.” They’ve also published articles like “Shay Mitchell Looked at ‘4,000 Dogs’ Before Choosing One to Adopt” and “How to Apply Glitter Nail Polish the Right Way.” Teen Vogue’s rebranding helps break the idea that if readers care about fashion and celebrities – typically feminine interests – they somehow can’t care about politics and complicated social issues. It’s the idea that it’s okay for men to obsessively follow sports figures, but as soon as women track celebrity gossip, they’re seen as not as serious or superficial. It’s a double standard, and Teen Vogue is exposing it.
This recognition of teenage girls as complex beings can partly be attributed to Teen Vogue’s newest editor-in-chief, Elaine Welteroth. She’s pushed the magazine to cover more politics and social issues, and played a role in establishing a Teen Vogue youtube channel. At 29 years old, she is the youngest editor-in-chief in Condé Nast’s history (Condé Nast is the mass media company Teen Vogue falls under). Elaine Welteroth is also only the second African-American editor-in-chief in Condé Nast history.
Teen Vogue’s shift hasn’t gone without criticism. After publishing an article titled “What to Get a Friend Post-Abortion,” the magazine took a lot of heat for leaning too far left. According to the conservative website lifezette.com, Teen Vogue was “marketing” abortions to teen girls. The Foghorn thinks it’s important to exercise caution when discussing sensitive issues like abortions. But to critique a teen girls magazine for leaning too far left or right is besides the point. The point is not which side the publication leans. The point is that they are trusting teenage girls to form their own political opinions by breaking taboos and refusing to avoid certain issues. This trust is what the Foghorn would like to highlight. We admire publications that treat teen girls as serious citizens.
This admiration extends to teen girls publications on the opposite end of the political spectrum. The conservative evangelical magazine for teen girls, named Brio, is an example of a right-leaning teen girl magazine that doesn’t shy away from politics. The magazine went out of publication in 2009, but it’s coming back this May. NPR reported a Brio representative, Bob DeMoss, saying that the magazine wants to “offer an alternative to articles like a recent controversial piece in Teen Vogue called “What to Get a Friend Post-Abortion.”
The Foghorn applauds publications that treat teen girls as intelligent media consumers who enjoy some good fashion advice as well as national politics. After all, teen girls deserve it. They deserve to know the intricacies of the world around them, from all angles.