GCSE English Media Coursework: Teenage magazines
Sophie Daysh 11GEH
GCSE English Media Coursework
Analyse and comment on the content and presentation, and the advertising of the Summer 2004 issue of Elle Girl magazine. Examine the relationship between features and the advertising in the magazine and consider in particular how this magazine tries to persuade young women to buy fashion and beauty products.
Elle Girl is a magazine aimed at young teenage girls. It contains fashion tips, general life advice and articles about celebrities. There are 130 pages inside the magazine, filled from top to bottom with pictures or text. There are adverts on at least 75 of these pages. This shows that there is at least one advert on every other page and many in between.
As you look at the front cover, your eyes automatically meet the person featured. This happens to be Kate Bosworth, who after recently starring in several hit films will be popular with any movie fanatic. The text next to her reads: Kate Bosworth, just how did she bag Orlando Bloom. Clearly trying to imply to young readers that if they follow in the footsteps of this young woman they will be able to get themselves someone such as Orlando Bloom. The cover is bright and bold. The text is in pink and green on a white background, so it grabs attention quickly. It has a summery feel to it but also appears to be to quite a young taste. It has been well arranged to look nicely busy with articles. The reader is tempted to continue.
“Dare to be different.” This is a small comment on the front cover in the very important position of below the magazine name. This is a clever marketing scheme and has been placed there very wisely. Young teenage girls, unintentionally open to influence will read this magazine and believe they know how to be different, when in fact this whole magazine is purposely created to contradict this phrase and subtly tell them what to buy, what to wear and how to act. Every article in the magazine whether openly or subliminally is attempting to groom young females into being a certain way, buying a certain perfume or a particular brand of clothing and believing that they like it. All over the UK readers will be feeling secure and “in the right” about copying fashion ideas, celebrity styles and generally lacking in individuality. This magazine is basically just a list of fashion ideas and advertisements, and they would not be included if the editor even slightly believed that they would be ignored by the mainstream readers. This means that teens everywhere will be noticing and copying these ideas but not yet noticing the almost invisible film of insecurity and on the whole believing that they are “different.” I think that it is unfair to advertise so subtly to the teenagers at the most influential years of their lives. At this stage they are learning more than ever, growing into who they really are and developing personalities of their own, and this magazine will deteriorate any signs of an individual. If Elle Girl really wanted the readers to be different it shouldn’t try and teach you how to clothe yourself and live your life. I appreciate that this is a very clever sales technique but I do not respect it. There is nothing that can be done to stop it until all the readers realise that they are being groomed into a certain type of human, just as the media feels they should be.
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On the front cover it also reads, “Rip up the beauty rule book! Cos life’s too short to conform. This is another example of an unsuitable article, simply because there is a contrasting article on the same page which entirely contradicts it. The contrasting article reads, “376 look to suit every leading lady, discover your movie star style.” If you were to “rip up the beauty rule book” and “stop conforming” you most definitely would not want to learn about movie star styles or a look that would suit every leading lady. As I read on about “the beauty rule book,” I learn that it is ok to clash my finger and toenail polish, ironically after telling the reader that its ok, there is a list of the best nail polishes, where to get them, why to get them and how much they cost. This is another subtle advertisement.
The adverts inside the magazine vary a great deal, from clothes, to accessories, to perfume, to shoes and jewellery. There is very little consistence, but nothing advertised tends to be very expensive. The editor is fully aware that teenage years are not the richest times of your life, but yet shopping is still an incredibly popular thing to do. On page 21, the entire page is advertisements for what is or will be “In style” in the near future. By including within the adverts, products from “Topshop” which is very mainstream, “Boxfresh” which is more sportswear, and “Mambo” which is quite retro, they have managed to appeal to a fair few different people. The page looks slightly odd, because it follows the theme of “On the Tennis Court.” Everything on the page is to do with tennis, except for one very random basketball CD case. It looks odd simply because it has not a great deal to do with tennis or clothing and generally makes me think that they ran out of decent tennis accessories to advertise. It also makes a point of the fact that every item is below £30, which will capture even more interest.
On page 4, (which is a fairly important spot in the magazine because as you open it, a reader would tend not to skip immediately but look closely, at this point their attention will still hopefully be undivided,) there is an advert spread across the entire page. It is titled “The Real Bling” against a dark background a watch is photographed. It is covered in shining diamonds, with a silver face. This is following the huge trend that has approached the UK from the American hip-hop industry. As people become more and more interested in this line of music they will become more and more keen to dress ‘the part’. It is a very popular type of music with all youth at the present so I feel that this is a wise advert to have so close to the beginning. Fake diamonds have become a big trend recently and they are everywhere as decoration on jewellery, clothes and shoes.
There is also an advertisement called “Girls on Film,” on page 59 Which entails looking at famous film stars and copying their style, (another contradiction to “Dare to be Different.”) The first film star chosen is Olivia Newton John when she co-starred in “Grease”. The article gives many examples of different accessories and items of clothing to suit the genre of the film whilst staying up to date with the present fashion. The layout is quite attractive, it appears to be quite simple, and not trying to hard which is refreshing for the reader. Letting the items sell themselves is a much better idea than attempting to make them more attractive than they are. This page is much nicer to look at because it isn’t so busy, so you can really see what you are supposed to be looking at.
One of the features in the magazine is in the “Real Girls” section, which is about real life stories, real issues and real emotions. The article is titled “Beating cancer made me want to help others.” It is about the life of a 17-year-old cancer survivor with big ambitions. To the right hand side of page 39, Lisa Sharpe is pictured; it is zoomed in on her upper half as she smiles. The picture conveys how happy she is. She is wearing a pink and white striped top, pale lip-gloss and has bright skin, she looks purely healthy. The natural green background furthers the feeling of fresh, healthy, happiness. This story is uplifting to any reader especially anyone who has had to experience cancer in their family, friends or even themselves.
There is an article on pages 114 and 115 about self-harm. Page 114 is a picture of a young girl with “pain relief” cut into her own arm. Oh the opposite page is the text of the article. At the beginning it describes how shocking new government research has proved that one in ten teenagers are harming themselves in some way. This article starts off with good intentions; it alerts teenagers that their friends might be doing it and how to help them. It teaches you what the definition of self-harm is. If it is as big a problem as we are led to believe then it is important to let teenagers know what it is. But I feel that the article falls straight downhill, when it starts a new paragraph titled “Shame behind the pain” The reason I felt this way is because as they go on to describe individual cases of self harm they start talking about individual cases such as celebrities and regular people. Self-harm is a very private issue, which should not be publicised in any way. If the girls described in the individual cases gave their permission to be written about (which they probably did) then it is acceptable. But then the writer goes on to describe how Amy Studt and Brody Dalle of the Distillers have experienced it themselves. It then goes on to describe how the act itself is caused by their inner demons and is very “un-glam.” Perhaps Amy Studt has already admitted it several times before publicly but Brody Dalle took a very long time throughout her career to admit that she had cut herself and only mentioned the sensitive subject delicately in a highly exclusive interview. The readers of this magazine, being young teens tend to be more into mainstream music, whereas The Distillers’ music is far from mainstream, and more in the punk rock persuasion, meaning very few of their fans will read this article. It is unfair to publicise an issue in a place it doesn’t belong. So I feel that they are writing about things that they just don’t know enough about and in the wrong place. Angelina Jolie is also mentioned describing when she used to cut herself. Seeing as neither she nor Brody Dalle admitted these things in interviews recorded for Elle Girl magazine, it is unfair to publicise in such a raw fashion the facts of their personal life. These private facts have no business being included in this article. I feel also that any people who are fanatical about any of these celebrities might decide that they are so desperate to follow in their idol’s footsteps that they may start harming themselves. Generally I don’t think they have handled this article very well or paid any respect whatsoever to those who have done it, whether they did it in the public or the private eye. Self-harmers shouldn’t have to feel as though they have a disease or that they are separate from the world, because these feelings wont do them any good at all.
The models doing the advertising are all roughly between 15 and 25, they are all good-looking and in many ways unnatural. But that is not a specific to this magazine; all models will follow that pattern.
Throughout the magazine, Elle Girl have clearly tried desperately to be “one of the girls,” in achieving this, readers will feel comfortable about taking advice from the editor. The language used is casual, colloquial and often slang. This is how we speak to our friends and by developing this casual, friendship tone, people will listen more and absorb the adverts, maybe eventually go out and buy the products. The tone is another cleverly designed subtle advert for itself.
On page 17 Joan Collins is featured. The text tells the reader that she is glamorous and wonderful. Throughout the article we learn how to capture her daytime look as well as her evening look. From handbags to jewellery, to hats and trousers, we learn exactly how to copy her style. It is somewhat ironic that the last line of the article is: “In the words of the lady herself “Know who you are-don’t be a clone!”” Yet another contradiction, it tells you to be and dress like Joan Collins but yet she basically is quoted saying, “have your own style!”
This magazine is cleverly made but highly unfair. Preaching about having your own style and then subliminally forcing young females to dress and be and act and talk a certain way. If Elle Girl truly does want people to “Dare to be different,” then it needs to start with the team who created it.