teen vogue: the activist’s handbook none of us expected
Like many other teenage girls, the day my copy of Teen Vogue was delivered was the highlight of the month. I’d spend ages flicking through, admiring Selena Gomez’s new haircut, working out if I’d be able to pull off what Cara Delevingne was wearing last week (I never, ever could) and wondering whether Harry and Taylor were or were not a thing.
I haven’t picked up a copy in years, but I haven’t forgotten how important it was to me, and all of my friends, growing up. Teen Vogue was our little slice of woman-hood. It made us sophisticated and kept us in the know with who was dating who and wearing what.
The same can’t be said for the new generation of TV readers. For them, the magazine they know and love is more than just celebrity gossip and disposable fashion. Since the appointment of Elaine Welteroth as editor in April 2017 – only the second African American in Conde Nast’s 107-year history to hold such a title – Teen Vogue have taken on what feels like a new identity. Space has been made for real, raw, and often hard-hitting journalism. How to be a good ally to the LGBTQ* community, safe spaces, intersectional feminism – all in a girl’s fashion mag. It’s unprecedented, but it really, really shouldn’t be.
Young girls ARE interested in politics. Everyone tells them they are the revolution, and yet Teen Vogue seem the only ones equipping them with the knowledge to actually be it.
What Welteroth’s TV have gotten really, really right is that diversity behind the scenes is crucial. Under her editorship, the magazine is doing so much more than just tagging along with “woke culture”. Their activism is not just for show, or a marketing ploy. Welteroth was charged with making Teen Vogue the voice of a new generation, and who can argue that she hasn’t succeeded? Her TV is paving the way for a more accepting world, tolerant of difference, which is exactly what we need right now.
So yes, your faithful companion will still tell you that Selena and Justin have been spotted kissing in matching outfits, but on the next page over give you a list of the Powerful People Who Have Been Accused of Sexual Assault, and next to that, How to Resist Donald Trump’s America.
That’s what makes it so important – it’s multidimensional. There is space for everything, and nothing is excluded. This does mean, though, that their content is sometimes controversial. They received huge backlash for a Guide to Anal Sex they published earlier this year. Whilst many called them dangerous, careless and inappropriate for it, what they were actually doing was providing important, professional, no-holes-barred advice. The mantra TV seems to be taking is that the more we inform our young people, the better we can protect them. They understand, better than any other publication, I believe, that it’s imperative that we inform our teens better so that they can help themselves, their friends and those different from them, to deal with the world we’re living in.
Teen Vogue has had a truly epic evolution from a fluffy teen mag to a media trailblazer, leaving its un-progressive counterparts in the dust. For the first time since I was fifteen, I’m reading TV again, and feeling more informed about the world than I ever have.