Thursday, July 27, 2006


It started when I walked around the corner straight into the path of a five year old girl. She had blow dried long blonde hair, a checked sundress and oh, my, goldfuschiapinkfauxleopardskinhighheeledpeeptoedmules. (Saying it fast is less painful.) Her toenails were painted in matching fuschia. She was walking along the street, holding her daddy's hand and her demeanour was not 'look I'm playing dress up', it was deadly, scarily serious.

The next day I somehow found myself in possession of (U.S) Teen Vogue. As I flicked through it at first I marvelled at how good the fashion was. Two stories were styled by the amazing Havana Laffitte, whose work I've swooned over forever. The models were thankfully young and in non provocative, smiley poses but the clothes - I would wear that! I would aspire to wear that! Especially those in the rockabilly style spread. Looking at the rest of the magazine I started to feel a bit, well sick. The 'inspirational' teens featured - not just La Lohan who is featured with alarming regularity but 'real' girls were what made me feel distinctly uneasy. Uneasy like; "eugh, get this away from me, evil!"

We see Charlotte, 13 who wears an Express dress layered over leggings and an A.P.C shirt with Louis Vuitton logo flats. She says "I like to mix classic clothes with more bohemian touches, like oversize jewellery." Bijou, 14 wears a Marc by Marc Jacobs cardigan, Miu Miu belt and Marc Jacobs flats. She poses in her bedroom which is plastered with M.J ads shot by her idol Juergen Teller.

I haven't got a leg to stand on here high horse wise, since when I was 14 my bedroom walls and ceiling were entirely plastered with pictures from Vogue, even the ad campaigns. By the age of 15 I'd worked out that waking up every morning to images of modelly perfection staring back at me was not improving my fragile teenage self esteem. So I ripped them all down and painted my room white 'cos minimalism was in. But even though I was obsessed with glossy fashion magazines I knew they weren't actually aimed at me. Jackie and Mizz were aimed at me, but I wouldn't have been seen dead reading them.

So if you go by the rule that teens are going to be like, so totally over any magazine with 'Teen' in the title by the time they're 12, there are 10 year olds reading Teen Vogue. Reader's parents on an average income will be thrilled to know that this month's 'Gotta Have It' item (of which you need at least 5) is Mulberry's lux leather animal key chain at $99 a pop. It's obvious the entire issue is gone through with a fine toothcomb to make sure it's P.C and the content is suitable. But the tone, there's just something about it that strikes me as eVIL. Most evil of all is the photo of three pre teens at a party. They are dressed exactly as a hip 27 - 35 year old might dress, but they look about 10. (They are actually Lisa Love, U.S Vogue's West Coast editor's daughter and friends, so who can blame them for being on trend?) They stare out with 'talk to the hand' expressions EXACTLY like those three girls from that episode of SATC - you know the one, where Samantha has to organise a party for a rich little princess who dresses like Carrie and co, talks flippantly about blow jobs and sends over a bottle of Dom Perignon in a restaurant. I laughed so much at that episode because it seemed so ridiculously fantastical.

I really have no right to judge people for growing up too quickly, since at the age of 9 my friend Gracie and I insisted on strutting round wearing blue eyeshadow and pearlised pink lipstick, and took sartorial cues from Desperately Seeking Susan and SJP's other finest work Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

At a recent family party I found myself cornered by two relatives who proclaimed fashion 'absolute rubbish' and having to defend the fashion industry which they found so offensive. (Damn, that really was a fun party.) I was like, 'but how can you be offended by Nicolas Ghesquiere?!'
Now I realise that THIS is what they were talking about. The peer pressure, the advertising rammed down teenagers throats. I float around getting excited about clothes or designers because I love it. And I can do as I please because I'm a grown up and you'll treat me with respect young lady.


Layla said...

I think most of the people that read Teen Vogue are in their early twenties! seriously. The fashion isn't really middle America teenager and I can't magine those types even buying the magazine. Most of my friends read it (ha not that there's anything to actually 'read' in it) and I am 25 so.... I think (and hope) that the pre teens are safe from the onslaught of luxury.

Julia said...

That truly is frightening. Those must-haves always make me LOL. And that SATC episode is really funny, because I've also come across clones of how I was like at that age (but with so much more pizzazz, really!) and it's scary to think, "was I really like that?!"

Anonymous said...

wow. thats just plain scary.

cosmicopia said...

(on soap box) - I think it is E-V-I-L through and through, playing into the hands of young people, and unfortunately its the parents that have to foot the bill, not all of us are born with 'Hollywood 'silver spoons.But that is the dark side of fashion, the dark evil underbelly of brainwashing consumerism.It reminds me of teen pageants and that poor girl that inexplicably died, there is sooooo much pressure to look 'good'.Who makes these ridiulous standards anyway - oh yes the media!!!kerrrchinng
Boycot teen vogue forever.