Before I learned about the pregnant teenage model on the cover of this month’s issue of Teen Vogue, I already wasn’t a big fan of this particular magazine. Jourdan Dunn, 19, was pregnant at the time of the cover shoot in which she appeared with fellow teen model, Chanel Iman. I was surprised that when Teen Vogue found out about the pregnancy, they went ahead and published the planned cover. For around ten whole seconds.
Jourdan Dunn, iconic enough at 19 to be referred to only by her first name, in an interview which can also be found in the November issue, recounts how difficult it was to tell her mother, her agency and her boyfriend about her “unplanned” pregnancy.
Was I hoping Teen Vogue would at least take the opportunity to talk about about birth control? Maybe. Would I have preferred the cover be pulled? Not necessarily. However I could have done without vogue.com’s headline when Dunn’s pregnancy was announced this past July:
I’m sure this young woman is absolutely lovely both inside and out. But she is a model. Clearly not a role model for 13 – 17 year old girls. Yeah, I know. The above article about rocking a stylish pregnancy was on the regular vogue.com. But seriously – would the Vogue reader really be missing out on anything at all if it wasn’t the teenage Jourdan who was featured?
In reaction to Jourdan talking about how her mother was blaming herself for giving birth to Jourdan at the same young age, Teen Vogue responded,
“It definitely won’t be easy, but Jourdan is also in a unique position for someone her age. Not many nineteen-year-olds have CK Calvin Klein campaigns to fall back on.”
Does the fact that Teen Vogue avoided a substantive issue like teen pregnancy, and turned it into one of financial/career success one surprise me? Never again.
It all sounds a little bit to me as if Teen Vogue is saying that it’s okay to don a baby bump as the latest accessory for two reasons only: because Dunn can afford it and Teen Vogue can’t afford not to.
In the same article the magazine effuses over her cover mate, Chanel Iman at age 18, having been named the youngest model in Victoria Secret’s history as if it were a Pulitzer or a degree in rocket science. Please. We all know Victoria’s Secret would be hiring models at 12, 13 and 14 if it were legal and culturally acceptable. At least culturally, I sometimes think we’re headed in that direction.
I would prefer my daughters not be confronted on a regular basis with taglines touting these young women’s unobtainable and rare confluence of genetic perfection: Teen supers Chanel Iman and Jourdan Dunn bring brains, beauty, mile-long legs and some much-needed diversity to the runways.
According to Teen Vogue’s current demographics, 46% of the magazine’s readership is 13-17 years old, 20% is 18-34, and 7% 3-12.
I’ve spent many years and much energy fighting what feels like an uphill cultural battle against the countless negative marketing messages aimed at my own teenage daughters. I taught them early on the concept behind commercial magazines: They stay in business by making you buy things. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
But not to worry! We can make you acceptable! Maybe you’ll never look like Jourdan and Chanel here, but certainly you can get yourself closer to perfection. Since we’re BFFs and all, we’ll show you how with the right diet, clothes, makeup and hair products you can get as close as possible to it. You too can have a happy, magnificent, popular, skinny and well-dressed life.
And now add: And you can have a baby!
In this day and age of the ubiquitous erectile dysfunction commercials, I don’t ban my daughters from anything as far as their magazine and television choices. But I sure as heck check everything out. If I see or hear something disturbing, we talk about it.
You, my dear readers, probably don’t need to be told the following, because you are among the responsible parents out there, or perhaps your children are young and still under your thumb. Or perhaps you don’t have children at all, and as we all are, just trying to get over your own damage:
Just because the Kardashians feature their two youngest daughters at ages 10 and 12, on their E Channel reality show, doesn’t mean your younger sons or daughters should be watching it. Ditto for the plethora of other shows that are currently available that drive our nation’s female youth to that all-important aspiration of being a drunk, promiscuous and pregnant celebutante. Tell them it is most unlikely that the “celebutante” part will happen. Remind them that this will leave them merely drunk, promiscuous and pregnant.
My favorite litmus test is to watch any show for 10 minutes while pretending your mother in law and a five year old are in the room with you.
And just because it’s on a magazine stand at the grocery store check out, and there’s someone who used to be on The Disney Channel on the cover doesn’t mean it’s a good choice. History says the kid just might be a train wreck.
Yeah, it’s a free country and we can turn the television off and no one is going to make us read, but they’re after our children and always have been. It makes me sad.