Cheryl Fuller

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Seventeen magazine has been one of the top-selling teen fashion magazines since its debut in 1944. Girls pour through its colorful pages, looking for advice about clothing, makeup, boys, and anything else they may want to know. They may be getting this advice, but what other messages is Seventeen sending its young readers? Many parents worry about these messages, sometimes expressing their complaints about the way Seventeen discusses sex and appearance. Researchers have studied some of the messages and have both positive and negative things to say about the magazine and the messages it is sending its readers. This research was done in the form of a content analysis. The message themes in thirteen magazines, all since January 2004, were categorized using grounded theory, and then totaled to see which themes dominated. The findings show, not surprisingly, that physical appearance was the most common theme discussed by the magazine. Real life issues, including politics and world affairs, were the next most common themes. Themes were also divided into the following categories: positive, negative, and neutral. Positive themes were found most often throughout the thirteen magazines, in over half of the articles. Negative themes were substantial, however, constituting more than 20% of the magazine's messages. Seventeen is a fashion magazine, and therefore it encourages girls to make themselves as beautiful as possible to attract the guys. However, it also briefly covers other issues including politics, faith, and budgets. Overall, research shows that the magazine sends a lot of mixed messages to teenage girls.

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