teen magazines

teen magazines
   Teenage or ‘teen’ magazines have consistently been associated with a feminine market, and more specifically with girl readers between the ages of 11–14. This section of the publishing industry is notoriously unstable, not least perhaps because it tends to be carried along by playground crazes and the most ephemeral of high street trends. Consequently, scores of different titles have been, come and gone, or merged, over the last thirty years, from Boyfriend, launched in 1959 (only to cease publication in 1965) to Sugar, a ‘baby glossy’ of the 1990s. For teenage boys, on the other hand, there has been no equivalent range of titles, the assumption being that young male readers are more likely to buy either specific ‘hobby’ titles or music papers such as the NME.
   D.C.Thomson’s Jackie magazine, which first appeared in the mid-1960s, dominated the teenage market for nearly twenty years, and achieved an almost iconic status in British culture because of its associations with ‘Cathy and Claire’s problem page’, pin-ups and comic strip romance. The demise of Jackie began with the launch of Just 17 (owned by EMAP Maclaren publications) in 1983, and it finally disappeared altogether in 1993. Just 17 was set up by the editor (David Hepworth) of Smash Hits, and signalled a crucial shift in the teenage magazine market during the 1980s towards formats centred more on music, ‘gossip’ and fashion than conventional romance. Perhaps the most significant trend in teenage magazines, from the 1970s onwards, was the move from ‘romance’ to ‘real life’. Early teenage magazines consisted mainly of illustrated romantic stories, which were in turn largely superseded by photo-love stories (i.e. narratives acted out by ‘real people’) in the 1970s. By the late 1980s, however, magazines such as Just 17 featured almost no fiction, focusing instead upon narratives of readers’ ‘true-life’ experiences. Teenage titles are strongly influenced by aspirational patterns of consumption, the overriding concern apparently being to identify with an older age group (hence the apparent anomaly that Just 17 is predominately bought by readers under the age of fifteen). It follows, therefore, that with the ascendancy in the 1990s of more sexually explicit magazines such as More! (with its infamous ‘(sexual) position of the week’) aimed at young women in their late teens and early twenties, teenage magazines such as Just 17 have continued to evolve. For example, in 1997, Just 17 changed to a monthly ‘glossy’ format, more overtly modelling itself on adult magazines.
   See also: women’s press

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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