In Which I Contemplate Magazines, Age, And Inspiration

I seem to be at a crossroads in my life, and nothing could illustrate that more than today when I walked out of the newsagents holding Cosmo and Total Girl. I’ve now been eighteen for two months. I have bought alcohol and lotto tickets, and I’ve even been ‘out’ once or twice. I only have five and a bit months until the end of my hsc, which means the end of school forever. To everyone else, I am an adult. Old enough to be handed responsibilities, but somehow I want to decline them all and hide under the covers and colour in. When I went out with my friend in Sydney last month, I got talking to some of their acquaintances, and I loved the look of shock I got when I would tell them “Oh, I’m still in high school”. Likewise, in all my work experience, I love being seen as young and getting out there. I did my first week as a workie at fifteen, which is definitely on the younger side, but now I’m nothing special – just the same age as the thousands of other wanna-be journos. 

The juxtaposition of my purchases today only served as a giant wake up call, which came when I could relate to most of Cosmo, and uh, none of Total Girl. I first read TG when it first launched, and like you hold your first editor near to your heart (Sarah Oakes was my first editor – being in charge when I started reading TG, and then when she moved to GF, so did I. I was actually lucky enough to meet her last month – definitely a star-struck moment!!), you also hold your first magazine. In my head I still think of myself as “young” but I really need to start adding “adult” to the end of that phrase. I’ve actually stopped buying Girlfriend and Dolly, because after eight years of devoted readership, I decided I’d seen it all and it was time to move on to the next stage in my life. There was separation anxiety involved, but there’ll always be a special spot in my life (and cupboard) for them. And I will continue to stay in touch with all the fabulous people I have met at both titles – just because I’m too old to read doesn’t mean I can’t dream of taking part in creating them. 

What saddens me about the youth of today is that so many of them are turning to Cosmo and Cleo straight out of Primary School in an endeavour to appear ‘cool’ and ‘grown up’. Ignoring the issue of age appropriateness, it just breaks my heart that they feel they have to skip the joys of being a tween. Society is so skewed these days, and I just want to shake the media industry (though I do know it’s not entirely their fault) and asked them when they got the stupid idea of telling young and impressionable girls that they have to live their lives in a certain way in order to be accepted. I just want to hug all the little girls (and despite what they may feel within themselves, that’s what they are) that I see on Facebook or tumblr who feel like they have to cover themselves in make-up and pose provocatively in order to gain popularity. I want to give them all copies of God Loves Ugly by Christa Black and let them know that it’s okay to be themselves (and I do not believe for a minute, no matter how much they protest, that acting like they do is being their true selves). It’s okay to be awkward and daggy and spend Saturday night in pajamas instead of at parties. It’s okay to be a nerd, or not be a nerd, just as long as you’re not changing yourself to fit in. Being eighteen, I now enjoy a drink or two when out with my friends, but hearing thirteen year olds boast about getting plastered absolutely shatters me. We only get one childhood, and then have the rest of our lives to act like grown ups, so why waste the amazing opportunity we are given. Life goes fast enough without feeling the need to help accelerate the process. 

My whole life I have dreamed of working at Girlfriend or Dolly, but the more I examine my life, the more I realise that maybe I should be out there helping to benefit the world and practicing my preaching of self-love and acceptance. Magazines like Bella Magazine are a breath of fresh air in the media industry, and maybe I should adjust my goals and aim for something like that instead. Or maybe I should work at GF or Dolly, but encourage positive change. They are making steps, but the overall message I still get from them is “you have to act like this, this, and this in order to be popular, accepted and happy”. 

People like Christa Black have been an overwhelming influence on me, and I just want to be able to inspire girls the way that they have inspired me. 

If you’re a young teen and reading this, please promise me you will enjoy the next few years of your lives. Saying no to societies pressures can be hard, but I can promise you it’s worth it, especially when you remember you have years and years ahead of you to act like an adult. 

frangipani princess xoxo

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