Justice

Magazine Covers Show a Sexist Double Standard

September 4th 2016

By:
Thor Benson

Social media recently identified a troubling double standard that quietly exists on newsstands in America. And one mother posted to Facebook with an important message about the expectations we present to girls versus boys.

On one side, we see Girls' Life Magazine featuring headlines like "Fall Fashion You'll Love," "Wake Up Pretty!," and "Your Dream Hair." To the contrary, we see Boys' Life Magazine featuring the headline: "Explore Your Future: Astronaut? Artist? Firefighter? Chef? Here's How To Be What You Want To Be."

The contrast of the covers is stark, on one young girls are given messages about their looks, while on the other, young boys are encouraged to think about their future and their career.

Mother of five Shoshanna Keats-Jaskoll wrote the following on Facebook, in the form of a letter to those at Girls' Life (crediting Matt Frye with finding the photo):

"Dear Karen, Chun, Kelsey, Brooke & Paulette,
I address all of you for two reasons. First, you are all on the masthead of Girls' Life magazine. Secondly, even if you, in your capacity at the magazine do not have editorial control, you certainly have a voice and should be using it.
I refer you to the attached photo, an image of the cover of your magazine contrasted with Boys' Life (unaffiliated but similarly named) magazine. I'll give you a minute to compare the two covers.
...
Your cover has a lovely young lady with a full face of makeup and you invite your readers to 'steal her secrets'.
The BOYS' LIFE cover has in bold letters: EXPLORE YOUR FUTURE surrounded by all kinds of awesome gear for different professions- doctor, explorer, pilot, chemist, engineer, etc. subheading -- HERE'S HOW TO BE WHAT YOU WANT TO BE.
Could there possibly be two more divergent messages?
Let's explore further.
Your Mag:
Fashion (how to SLAY on the first day)
Confessions: My first kiss
Wake up Pretty
Your Dream Hair
You do at least mention doing well in school... even if it does come at the end of this:
How to have fun, make friends... and get all A's.
But, whatever will they do with all those A's since it is the boys who will be the Astronaut, Artist, Firefighter, Chef?
You to girls:
Be like this girl.
Wake up gorgeous, steal a girl's secrets, slay on your first day, have fun, make friends... and kiss .. and get all A's.
BOYS LIFE to boys:
Be what YOU want to be. Here are some of your awesome choices! We'll show you how!
Your true stories are: 'real girls smooch and spill'
Boys' Life true stories are: True stories of firefighters in action.
WHAT in the name of all that is and ever was good are you teaching girls??
Is this the message you want for your daughters??
You are women. Working, professional women. Is this the message you are proud of? Is this why you became publishers, writers, graphic designers? To tell girls they are the sum of their fashion, makeup and hair?
I know that you are only one of many many magazines that contribute to this culture but I believe you can be part of changing all that is wrong here.
You CAN fight the tide of objectification of girls.
You CAN create covers and stories that treat girls as more than hair, lips and kisses.
Until you do, I guess I'll sign us up to BOYS LIFE because the quiz I want for my girls isn't "Am I ready for a BF" its "What Do I Want To Be".
-- update. I see this is being shared by many who feel as I do. So, I would like to ask all of you who feel the same, refuse to buy these magazines. Write letters to them asking them to respect your daughters and provide quality articles and information. We are the consumers. We can make the difference for our daughters.
Signed,
Shoshanna - mom of two girls and three boys - Keats Jaskoll
(h/t goes to Matt Frye for this image and who i cannot seem to tag)"

The founding editor and publisher of Girls' Life responded with this statement to Mic.com.

"Our content of the entire magazine is for our audience, and our audience has the same interests, which is learning how to be the best version of themselves and that extends far, far beyond beauty and clothes and hair, which they know, because they read the whole magazine," Karen Bokram, Girls' Life's founding editor and publisher, told Mic. "That's impossible to tell when you don't go past the surface. And we all know what happens when people judge a book by its cover."