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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Eleven is the new Seventeen?



When my 11-year-old daughter asked if she could start subscribing to  Mom_new17cover Seventeen magazine, I quickly did the math in my head and informed her that she was six years away from 17.

"But nobody who is actually 17 reads Seventeen, she explained as if I'd asked her if the world was flat. "Well, even if it's more for 14- and 15-year-olds, you're still a few years away," I reminded her.

She said girls her age at sleep away camp read it and her grandmother bought her one at the airport when she flew home alone recently. "There was nothing inapproriate in it," she said. "Well, I'll have to look at it before I say for sure but I'm leaning against it," I finally said.

The next day she asked if I had reviewed the magazine yet. I hadn't. She asked again the next day. Same answer. Finally, I threw one in my grocery cart.

As I settled into bed one night with my secret Seventeen, I realized that maybe I had ruled it out too soon. There was an article about how girls shouldn't let a guy dictate how they feel about themselves. There was a swimsuit feature showing which styles looked good on different body types. I like how heavier girls' bodies were referred to as "curvy." I didn't like how some swimsuits were said to draw the eye toward the chest and away from the thighs. I was now luke warm or rather, luke cold.

Then I found the article with tips for flirting with boys at the beach. Girls are told to buy two canned drinks from a drink machine then walk up to a boy and tell him she got an extra one for free and offer it to him. (If you check out the Web site, you can at least see the headlines for stories in the magazine, including under Health+Sex+Makeup a story called "Get your best butt").

After a few more features made references to boys, boys, sexy looks and boys, I felt fair and confident in my decision that she is too young for Seventeen. She is entering middle school next year and a new world of flirting with boys, clingier clothes and much more. Maybe she does need to be exposed to tips from someone besides me on how to maneuver this new world. But she doesn't need to be bombarded with 100 pages of it every month. 

-- Katherine Snow Smith, Go Momma

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 10:56am]


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