Editors at CosmoGirl would do well to remember that when they point at somebody else, three fingers are pointing back at them.
The popular teen magazine tackled the question "What is Sexy?" in the March 2008 issue, bemoaning the increased amount of sexual imagery being thrown at young girls but failing to acknowledge its own contribution to the problem.
Writer Marina Khidekel pointed out that girls are exposed to sexual imagery at younger ages than ever before, citing the popular Bratz dolls and the fact that "stores such as Limited Too sell lingerie like push-up bras and skimpy low-rise underwear for pre-teens."
Khidekel also rightly lamented that TV shows "with smart female lead characters (like "Gilmore Girls" and "Veronica Mars") are being cancelled, while shows that survive (like "America's Top Model" and "The Hills") focus mainly on girls' appearance and hookups." When girls are bombarded with the message that appearance is the only thing that matters, Khidekel notes, they start to feel that it's their "sexual power - not [their] talent, brains or ambition - that counts most."
Really, it's not sexual power that counts the most? Because that's the opposite message portrayed by the rest of the issue. One-third of the March issue of CosmoGirl focuses on either fashion or beauty. Twenty-six percent focuses on celebrities. This means more than half of the content of the magazine (not including advertisements) is devoted to looks and celebrity worship, both of which sell the idea that to be attractive is to be accomplished.
While editors only devoted 26 percent of CosmoGirl's content to personality development or career goals, they still managed to make room for a column that corrects myths about masturbation (under the guise of "sex health, of course).
Khidekel ultimately defined "sexy" as "much more than just your looks or your sexuality - it's your confidence in what you have to offer the world."
If Khidekel is correct in her definition of "sexy," shouldn't these teen magazines place more emphasis on encouraging girls to develop other areas of life - school, sports, art, music, theater - and less on the right beauty techniques and the latest fashions?