Seventeen

Seventeen began in 1944 -- and I'm doubtful if the wartime version pushed the cut line "Guys & Sex: What He's Too Embarrassed To Tell You." Turns out, what he's too embarrassed to tell you is he's intimidated. Since the boys interviewed were 17 and 18, that's understandable. Sex is not a casual sport, like jogging on weekends. Sensitivity is job one. Second, and this is far more alarming, "94% of guys say they would wear a condom if a girl asked them." Men, don't wait to be asked. Think of your crown jewels as a gift. If you take it out, wrap it up. Since 44% of you admit to a pregnancy scare, adopt the Boy Scouts' mantra: be prepared.

In fact, preparation may be the overarching theme of Seventeen, which addresses everything from beauty and skincare to health and nutrition. Articles are brief, the tone upbeat, and the photos glossy. Fashion is a byword -- though it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between teen cool and hooker chic.

There is also more about dudes and dudettes than when I was 17. Not only "weird things dudes do before a date," including -- and parents of girls take note -- listening to rap to "feel like a bad-ass," to adding songs to an iPod that he hates but she loves. Why? "Just to emphasize our undeniable connection." Thank you, Tyler, 19, of Dallas. Given your penchant for deception, I predict a political run in your future.

The dude section ends with a primer on "yo-yo dating," which is when a boy keeps reeling a girl in, then pushes her away. Honey, there are games that are fun, and games that are hurtful. Flirting is an art; serial flirting is a sign to run. The amount of space Seventeen lavishes on makeup -- "concealer is awesome!" -- and clothes is hyperbolic. There's more to life than the external. Decades ago, its editors weren't afraid to address more substantial issues, such as abortion.

The "Style Council" spread was an eye-opener. There was an impressive range of 10 distinct looks -- from punky to preppy, girly to sexy tomboy. Looking good and feeling physically confident is important, but self-esteem and academics should play a key role in a healthy life -- and the magazine's feature well.

Socrates was right: "An unexamined life is not worth living." Readers, make yours meaningful. One upbeat feature proves this point.

Bree, 17, had just won a soccer scholarship when she lost her leg in a car accident. She's determined to get back on the field, and eventually wants to be a phys-ed teacher and high-school soccer coach. Such strength is laudable. It's the part of Seventeen that speaks directly to the hope and possibility that exemplifies youth.

Now, the Seventeen demo, approximately 13-21, are crucial years in a girl's life. Yes, it's cool to spend time shopping or dating, and the magazine covers these areas well. But you're only a teenager once. Don't stress out about your weight or lip gloss. Be happy! Have fun! You have the one status every adult would kill for: carefree.

MAG STATS

Published by: Hearst

Frequency: Monthly

Web site: www.seventeen.com

Tags: magazines
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