By RUTH BORDETT
When I try to picture the cover of a typical teen-girl magazine for teen girls, I imagine a young, wholesome female celebrity sporting an all-American smile so huge it appears as if sunshine is streaming -or rather exploding- from her face.
Also easy to imagine are headache inducing, neon headlines, begging someone to purchase the issue, if only to finally learn how to do the “Cute Butt Workout,” or read the latest hard-hitting interview with Justin Beiber.
Honesty and variety in teen magazines is few and far between these days. For years, teen girls have had few options aside from mainstream magazines “Seventeen” and “Teen Vogue.”
Some of these magazine rack mainstays have made progress toward authenticity, such as “Seventeen’s” recent ban on photo-shopping their images.
Despite these efforts, there is still a level of commerciality that creates a disconnect between the publications and their readers.
Luckily, there are other options available for teens and teens-at-heart. “Rookie” is an online magazine designed especially for, but not limited to, teen girls. Created in September 2011 by 16-year-old style-blogging phenomenon Tavi Gevinson, “Rookie” aims to provide a haven for alternative, feminist-leaning teens.
Gevinson explained to the New York Times her intention for “Rookie” was to produce content that “respects a kind of intelligence in the readers that right now a lot of writing about teenage girls doesn’t.”
Updated three times daily, at 3 p.m., 7 p.m. and 11 p.m., “Rookie” covers a wide variety of topics other typical teen magazines often fail to address.
“Rookie” does not hesitate to cover subjects like harassment and sexual exploration. One particular piece on “Rookie” titled, “How to Not Care What Other People Think About You,” explains the importance of self-esteem and how exactly to maintain it in a society constantly expecting perfection while also avoiding the vague cliché to “just be yourself.”
While unafraid of addressing more serious coming-of-age issues, “Rookie” also has a more playful side, with articles like, “In Defense of Doing Nothing: Doing Something is Cool, But Doing Nothing is an Art,” “Real-People Reviews: Just what it sounds like,” or the recurring feature “Ask a Grown Man,” wherein male celebrities like John Hamm and Paul Rudd answer readers’ questions ranging from topics like farting to the importance of respecting one’s self.
Sophomore Britta Grim browsed the online magazine’s website several times and appreciates the variety of content available to readers.
“Nearly everything that a young adult could want to look at in a magazine is available in such an accessible form,” said Grim.
With an unabashed love for all things teen girl, Gevinson explained the spirit of “Rookie” best when she told New York Magazine,” “I…don’t think the average American teenage girl really exists, I just think that there are shared qualities and experiences.”
So, the next time you find yourself bombarded by teen magazine headlines touting a million secrets on how to reach an inhuman level of beauty, remember that not all hope in teen-girl world is lost.