Girl Power: Some Adjustments / by Sophie Johnson

I subscribe to a lot of magazines. They pile up, I feel guilty about them, begin to resent them, and then I fall in love with them all over again when I read them all on the airplane in one sitting at Thanksgiving. Say what you want, but this is probably my most functional relationship.

My favorite magazine, hands down, is Seventeen. I think I subscribed to it for the first time at the age of 22 because I saw an ad that promised free lip gloss with a $10 subscription. I'm a sucker for free gifts -- I have so many New Yorker Dog Books that I could outfit every upscale vet practice waiting room in the city of New Orleans. Anyway, Seventeen is my favorite because (1) It's pretty offensive, and nothing gets me off more than feeling self-righteously better than everyone else by calling out other peoples' (or magazines') insolence; and (2) GREAT MAKE-UP TIPS. 

The issue I just finished (March 2014, Selena Gomez) is particularly wonderfully awful, because it purports itself to be a "Girl Power" issue. Seventeen should not ever try to pull off a "Girl Power" issue. It flails about, trying to be accepting and affirming, when we all know that Seventeen is for popular girls only, so it just ends up looking silly -- like a dog in a mermaid costume. There is an article about the 17 most powerful, inspiring girls in America who are 21 and under. Spoiler alert: they're all actresses, singers, or models (there's one exception: it's this hot girl who starved herself to end homelessness). Collectively, all the girls on that list weigh less than I do.

There is also a two-page spread featuring all the smart and insightful pieces of advice different celebrity cover girls have had over the years (it's Seventeen's 70th anniversary, so this was their version of a retrospective). I wish to offer some adjustments. Just because you are a hot celebrity does not mean you should be allowed to give advice to young girls. (Of course, just because I am a narcissist with a blog does not mean I should necessarily be allowed to give advice to young girls, either, but I am pretty sure no young girls read my blog.) I've reprinted the quotes from the spread below, and my adjustments. Names have been removed to protect the guilty, but if you're curious, that's what Google is for.

"No one can make things happen for you; you need to find the power within to make them happen for yourself. Once you realize that, you're unstoppable!"

Real World Adjustment: Most celebrities had someone behind the scenes making things happen for them. It's a sad reality, but power is built on nepotism, inheritance, and privilege constructs that keep dominant parties dominant. That said, self-love is a terrific thing that takes a long time to cultivate. Don't be hard on yourself if you don't accomplish everything you want to; do your best and take care of yourself. Know that hard work and good luck are a powerful combination, but they're never a guarantee. Liking yourself, on the other hand, will benefit you no matter how successful you become, so cultivate that, and breathe a lot.

"Never compromise who you are or what you believe to please others. [...] In the end, it's always best to bet on yourself."

Real World Adjustment: Learn to compromise. People are always evolving; the best people are open-minded to change. Feel confident enough in your self-worth to be willing to be wrong sometimes. If the world was full of people who only ever bet on themselves, it would be an ugly and boring place to live. Also, the Kentucky Derby would be totally pointless.

"Inspire others, live life to the fullest, and know that nothing can stop you!"

Real World Adjustment: Plenty of things can stop you. Terrible relationships can stop you, losing your job can stop you, inclement weather can stop you, aggressive dogs can stop you; I could go on and on. You'll be stopped lots of times. It's good to stop! Life is designed to be full of stops. If you were on a bicycle, and you went without stopping, you would die. Take the time it requires to pause and adjust your path as often as you need to. Be gentle with yourself so that you may be gentle with others. Things might not turn out the way you want them to, but that's OK.

"It's only hard if you're trying to be something you're not. Being who you are is really easy."

Real World Adjustment: You will spend your whole life trying to figure out who you are. It's insanely difficult. It seems easier if you have lots of publicists and a mansion. But even then, it's really difficult. Life is hard for everyone, no one knows who they are or what they are doing with their lives, and sometimes you can eat doughnuts because you feel upset about it. That doesn't make you any less of a person.

"Girls have to be taught from early on that they are strong and capable of being anything they want to be."

Real World Adjustment: Beyonce said this. God, she is so damn good at saying the right thing all the time. I like her dance moves.