The Effects of Seventeen Magazine on Young Women’s Minds

A few weeks ago, an article came across my Facebook feed, “Seventeen Magazine Pushing Sex as a Drug to 12-Year-Olds.”  Immediately my mind went back to my own Seventeen magazine days. My sixteen-year old self sat on the dark brown, shag-like carpet in my bedroom flipping through my own copy and taking quiz after quiz of “Does He Really Like You?”, “Are You Just Too Shy?” and “What If He Dumps You?”.  I had a subscription along with one to Teen, YM, and Bop.

Is this what you want for your girl?

My reminiscing did not bring back the warm, fuzzy feeling that a memory of your childhood bedroom should bring. Instead it brought feelings of sadness.  

That didn’t stop me, however, from wondering what Seventeen magazine is like today. I opened a new tab on my computer’s browser to take a look. This is what I saw.

“How to Be the Girl He Remembers”

“Tips for a Better Make Out Session”

“Flirty Text Message Ideas”

My heart broke into a million pieces. I sat there, with my sleeping baby girl in one arm and my phone in the other hand, and mourned over the lies, the deception, the deceit – a trap the enemy is planting to get into the minds of young girls.

I thought of the hundreds, probably thousands, of young women sitting on the other side of their computer screens reading these articles at the same time as me. Young women without moms and mentors to help them fish through the rubble and get to truth.

See, I was that girl. That’s why I had a subscription – several subscriptions. Even though I was a Believer, I was still young in my faith, and I thought those magazines were truth because that is all I saw, and there was no one to tell me otherwise.

Sitting with Seventeen magazine in my hand, trying to circle the best answer, I hoped to discover the answers to my deepest teenage questions.

Am I worthy

Am I beautiful

Am I good enough?

Questions that I continued to seek answers to throughout my 20’s. This foreshadowed what I would believe for the next ten years of my life – that my worth is found in someone’s else’s acceptance. All I wanted was to be chosen.What is the influence?

The truth is that I was already chosen.

And so are our daughters and all the other girls sitting on the other side of the computer screen or with a magazine in their hands answering quizzes and reading articles.

We might be tempted to dismiss articles like in Seventeen magazine as just something teenagers like to read. We think that there’s no real harm in them. In reality they are being used by the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) – steal their purity, kill their future, destroy their feelings of worth. Just reread the titles of the articles above. Each of them are saying, “If you do x, y, or z, then you will blank (get the guy, keep the guy, be pretty, become sexy, be enough)”.

Will you speak into their lives?

Young women must have mothers and mentors who teach them that decisions that lead to destruction begin in their minds. In order to prevent this they must take their thoughts captive and destroy every thought that’s against God’s Word (2 Corinthians 10:5). But in order to take our thoughts captive, we have to do two things first.

Proverbs 4:23 NLT
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

We have to control what comes into our minds. “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” Psalm 101:3 (ESV). The effects of what we read, watch, or listen to are sometimes subtle, but they are there. Little by little our minds begin to twist truth.

We have to know truth in order to recognize anything contrary to it. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” Philippians 4:8 (ESV). By saturating our minds with truth we are putting on the helmet of salvation which reminds us of our worth in Christ and protects us through His blood that He shed on the cross.

How do you teach your daughter or mentee to guard her heart?

If you would like to make the investment in being equipped and encouraged
to speak into your daughter or mentoree’s life, please sign up for our next M2B Coaching Course.

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5 thoughts on “The Effects of Seventeen Magazine on Young Women’s Minds”

  1. Brenda, this broke my heart!
    I related to your post on a deep level. As a teen, I was in even more despair. I thought those teen magazines were too babyish. I had already graduated to reading Vogue, Cosmo, and Redbook. NOT recommended. What it left me with was a complete feeling of inadequacy, a strong streak of materialism, a long-time battle with an eating disorder, and the false notion that my worth was found in being sexy and having nice things. How shallow, how false, how sad that I wasted my youth on trying to be what I thought was a grown up! And that tragic thing is being aware of sexuality and the opposite sex and having “stuff” is NOT the essence of being a grown up. It is a lie that so many of us bought and the price for that kind of thinking is high.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Great article and a much needed reminder to ensure that our girls are being fed the right messages. Way too often we do dismiss the amount of ungodly messages that are being force fed into them in large volumes by the world we live in. It is up to us to make sure they are fed more messages of inner strength and purity, acceptance and grace, more messages about the Will and Love of God! And we must be prepared to do this in the way God laid out for it to be done! I am very much looking forward to this class!~


  3. Pingback: What Shade of Red Does Your Heart Bleed?

  4. An Actual Teenager

    I just came upon this post because I was looking for a certain article I had seen in Seventeen magazine. I’m not going to really argue against what you’re saying because we are all entitled to our own opinions and whatnot. I just want to give some advice from an actual young woman, and therefore daughter. I say this from experience: It is always good to share your beliefs with your children, but just know that lecturing them on your philosophy of you or your religion can be as damaging as not telling them anything. Children should be informed but adults need to know not to cross an lines. I don’t want to sound like some know-it-all teenager who thinks she has it all figured out, I’m only 18 so I know I don’t have much experience. But all the same I don’t want you guys to possible damage your relationship with your children. Let them figure it out with a little guidance, don’t alienate them. If you shove all these ideas down your throat they will become too worried and self conscience about what you will think of them when they try and open up about who they are and what THEY believe.
    Also, some of us out there KNOW how completely ridiculous their articles and quizzes can be. We might only read them because they make us feel silly and young. Other articles in their magazines help us out a lot.
    I hope this can help out at least one parent in the future.

  5. Hi Gabrielle! Thank you so much for your comment. It is good to hear the perspective of a young woman, and I know it will help other moms. I completely agree with you that lecturing and shoving ideas down a child’s throat is never effective parenting.

    Spirit-led parenting begins with humility that we all fall short of the glory of God but through Jesus we are made new – even parents. Through that humility we teach our children – not lecture – by our example – “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV). Jesus was a teacher, but He never lectured. He asked questions, He told stories, He listened, and most of all He formed relationships. He met people where they were and so should parents with their children. Without a humble attitude, displaying an accurate example of Jesus and forming an authentic relationship, most parents will/do resort to lecturing and as a result turn their children away.

    As far as these magazine articles being o.k. to read sometimes, I know with myself the deception was subtle and I didn’t even realize the impact they had on me until years later and after I had already made some poor decisions. I would be cautious.

    Thank you, again, for your thoughts! 🙂

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