Thursday, September 8, 2016

Girls' Life Versus Boys' Life

A few days ago, I saw this post on Facebook that compares two teenage magazines side by side. The original post came from a father who shared his concern about the two magazines addressing he has three daughters and  a fact of what society is saying about what being a girl or being a boy means.

Then this post has been shared for over 1500 times, including on my husband’s Facebook page. We have a daughter and we understand how it feels to raise one. He has concern too. Then I read some of the comments on the original thread and some comments on my husband’s page. I am a little bit bothered when I read those comment especially from the original thread, most of them are agreeing that society plays unfair judgement about what being a girl versus what being a girl is. They may be right but they are also wrong. Most of their judgement are based on the two magazines only. The original post has also inspired some articles mostly from parents (moms) who have daughters, condemning and slamming Girl’s Life magazine publishers. It somewhat has become something like cyber bulyying towards the Girl's Life magazine. I am hell sick of it.

This is the photo from the original Facebook thread. I laughed when I saw the Boy's Life magazine is placed on Highlights magazine section. What an effort to make to prove not a very valid point.

While we can share the common agreement that boys and girls, women and men should have equal rights and opportunities when it comes to pursuing their dreams; hobbies, educations and careers, there are a few things that these people are missing out or simply don't get it:

  1. Girl’s Life magazine and Boys’ Life magazine are two different magazines. These two magazines should not be compared side to side with each other. This is not an apple to apple comparison. Although they share the same names, they totally come from different publishers thus they have different target markets. Boys’ Life magazine is affiliated with Boys Scout of America (BSA). The mission of Boys' Life magazine is to entertain and to educate American youth (mostly boys), and to open their eyes to the joyous world of reading. As we know, boys don’t like reading as much as girl (do some research if you don’t believe me). And since it is affiliated with BSA, we can only expect what the contents of this magazine are about. Girls’ Life magazine is a lifestyle American magazine for teenage girls. It covers range of topics, from heavier topics such as dealing with racism, sexual abuse, and feelings for boys, as well as lighter topics such as fashion, beauty, skin care, and embarrassing moments (don’t we all experience this?). It also covers advice on how to build self esteem, how to release stress, and how to handle peer pressures. Based on the research I read, the name Girl’s Life is a play on Boys’ Life magazine that was published earlier. So to compare these two magazine just based on their names is like comparing apple with oranges, or comparing TIME magazine with Cosmopolitan (fortunately, they don’t share the same name).

  1. Stop saying or even thinking that all the “cool stuff” belong only to boys. Stop thinking that boys like science, nature, sports, adventure, math, engineering while girls like beauty, fashion, celebrities and all the other petty stuff. Let me tell you this, there is nothing set in stone that science, nature or sports belong only to boys, or the other “petty” stuffs belong to girls. There is nothing wrong when a girl enjoy stuffs like beauty and fashion. Look around us, beauty industry alone in the U.S. made about $62 billion in 2016. And the fashion industry made about $343 billion. U.S. is the world’s largest fashion industry. Do we know how many men actually involved in fashion industry that make a fortune designing and creating clothing line and stealing this “women’s job"? To name a few; Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Jimmy Choo, Roberto Cavalli, Maz Azria, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, John Varvatos, Junya Watanabe, Yohji Yamamato are among the straight men fashion designers. I have to mention these straight men because some people say men fashion designers are “gays”. How ignorant!

  1. If we think girls’ magazine or women’s magazine are full of petty stuff, you are wrong. Your assumption would be based on like when someone judges a book by its cover. The question is, have you ever read those magazines? I was hell of a tomboy when I was growing up. The only time I ever wore a skirt was when I had my school uniform on. I hated those pleated skirt. Every week, I was looking forward to Friday when I could wear my gym uniform because they are t-shirt and shorts!!! I screamed bloody hell when my mom tried to put me on a fancy dress on a special day such as my birthday. I couldn’t wait to take the dress off. The first time I happily wore a skirt was when I was 20. I was going on a date. And surprisingly I kind of liked it. That flowy skirt made me feel different. But here is the fact, in my teenage years, although I was a tomboy (who often wished I were a boy) who loved riding a bike miles away from home (sometimes I rode my bike along the river bank, that often freaked my parents out), who’d rather play with boys than girls, who wouldn’t mind digging soil, climbing trees, I also liked reading girls’ magazine. In my adult life, I read a whole full lots of women’s magazine. Those magazine helped me boost my self esteem. I used to think I was ugly, dark skin (yeah Indonesians prefer light skin), big nose, crooked teeth. I was a victim of bullying in elementary school. What’s so pretty about me? But those girls’ magazine helped me discovered that I’ve got the brain that most girls have not. I stood up for myself and I proved them that I have something in me that nobody can take away. In my adult life, I learned a big deal of lessons from Cosmopolitan and Vogue magazine, they boost my confident on how to compete with male co-workers at work and how not to get easily intimidated by others, and most importantly how to feel confident. Those magazines empowered me among many others in my life.

To this day, I occasionally read those women’s magazines and also enjoy reading TIME (I am subscribed to it). For my kids, the only magazine that both my kids read is Highlight magazine. Six years from now, if my daughter decides that she wants to read Girl’s Life Magazine or Girl’s World magazine or any Girls’ magazine for this matter, I’d be glad to subscribed them for her.

What I see wrong is when people start to compare; the more we associate “cool stuffs” (science, engineering, adventure, computers or sports) are all about boys and not so “cool stuffs” (beauty, fashions),  are all about girls, the more we create gap between boys and girls. This is how sexim araise. This is where we fail as a society. The attack to Girls' Life magazine is sexist.

When some people slam a cover of a teen girls’ magazine and compares it a cover of a boys’ magazine that are not affiliated with each other, I see clearly ignorance is at its best.  Us girls or women should never apologize of wanting to look pretty or pull together, we should not apologize for putting red lipstick or lip gloss on our lips, and most feminist will say "we should not feel bad about what we wear". A magazine is not there to determine how us parents should raise our children. It is solely our job.

When some people (especially women and mothers) slam a cover of a teen girls’ magazine without truly understanding what the magazine is all about, even by raising their voice to boycott the magazine, this is where I see feminism fails. I guess these same people don’t really understand what feminism is about.

Thank you girls and women magazines that I've ever read for all the good things you have done for me, and keep doing what you are doing!!!

An ex tomboy and a mother of a son and a daughter

Now before you exit out and rolling your eyes after reading this, think for a moment, don't you think some of the covers on these magazines can as well teach our girls some good lessons about being girls? Don't judge a magazine by its covers (unless it is a Playboy magazine)!
Girl's Life magazine

Girls' World magazine

Girls' Life magazine