When I was a teenager, I loved going to Target and stacking up on magazines. My bedroom was covered in pictures of the teen idols of the 2000s like Zac Efron, Demi Lovato, and Vanessa Hudgens. But teen magazines seem to have changed these days.
One of my favorite magazines as a teenager was Teen Vogue. I loved flipping through their pages of glamorous ads and affordable ways to copy celebrity fashion. Lauren Conrad also interned at Teen Vogue when she was on The Hills, and every teenage girl in the 2000s wanted to be like Lauren Conrad. (Not going to lie, I’m still a fan of her). Unfortunately, Teen Vogue isn’t what it used to be. Their fun articles on beauty and fashion have been replaced with articles encouraging teenage girls to participate in radical politics.
What Makes Teen Vogue Different?
Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing inherently wrong with Teen Vogue encouraging teenage girls to participate in politics. The problem is their radical approach and the fact that they don’t always provide accurate context, misleading their young and impressionable readers. Other popular teen magazines (and some of my old favorites) like Seventeen and Girls Life write about current events, politics, social issues, and activism, but they provide content that’s digestible to teens instead of preaching radical politics.
The problem is their radical approach and how they don’t always provide accurate context.
While other teen magazines simply want to keep teen girls informed, Teen Vogue is promoting cancel culture and eulogizing controversial anarchist figures like Emma Goldman. They also promote communism and police abolition.
Promoting Socialism and Communism: The “Bread and Roses” Column
Socialism and Communism have become more popular among teenagers over the past few years. Teen Vogue’s new column, "Bread and Roses," capitalizes on that popularity. Some of the articles featured in the column include "Julia Salazar Explains What It Means to Be a Democratic Socialist Lawmaker" and "Socialist Feminism: What Is It and How Can It Replace Corporate ‘Girl Boss’ Feminism?".
Don’t get me wrong; Teen Vogue has every right to publish these articles. The problem is that these go beyond news pieces that inform teenage girls about current events (like Seventeen and Girls Life do). These are op-eds being fed to teenage girls like they’re factually correct and leave no room for question or debate.
There are Teen Vogue articles on Socialism beyond this column. In a recent article, 20 teens and young adults between the ages of 16 and 23 spoke about their political identity and what influenced their beliefs.
All 20 experiences are valid, but they paint a poor picture of what all teens and young adults across the U.S. believe.
A 19-year-old who identifies as a Marxist wrote, “I spent a few months in France in the fall of 2018 and happened to be there during the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) demonstrations, one of which I attended. It was the first truly mass demonstration I'd been to. I met many communists and anarchists in Paris. When I got home, I was determined to study as hard as I could. I read through [Karl Marx's] Capital, Volume 1, most of [Vladimir] Lenin's works, some [Peter] Kropotkin, [Rosa] Luxemburg, some [Leon] Trotsky, some works by historians, and many articles and online texts. I joined discussion groups and met a lot of other leftists. I consider myself a Marxist but am still sympathetic to anarchism in the sense that I do think there is a meaningful distinction between libertarian and authoritarian conceptions of communism, and that the need to abolish the state must be emphasized. I'm still learning a lot, and I want to work with others to understand how to liberate humanity and abolish class society and wage labor.”
There are two significant problems with this statement and this article overall. Although there’s nothing inherently wrong with a young woman telling the story of how she developed her Marxist beliefs, the article in question doesn’t feature anyone who identifies as a moderate or anything right of center. Every example in the article includes someone who either doesn’t claim a political identity at all or has a political identity left of center. Even though all 20 of the experiences featured in this article are valid, it paints an inaccurate picture of what all teens and young adults across the United States believe, implying that their readers are supposed to affiliate with left-wing politics.
If you’re trying to promote Marxism, citing a man whose writings are responsible for the death of millions isn’t the best idea.
The second problem is that one of the Marxist authors cited is Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution, whose victory led to nearly seven decades of violent dictatorship in Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union. The Bolshevik Revolution also inspired the Chinese Communist Revolution that resulted in the slaughter of millions. If you’re trying to make an argument for Marxist beliefs, citing a man whose writings are responsible for the death of millions isn’t the best idea. Since Teen Vogue doesn’t make this clarification, nothing is stopping an impressionable teenage girl from accepting Marxism without asking any questions because she read about it on her favorite fashion website.
Defunding the Police vs. Police Reform
Another issue that Teen Vogue has been vocal about is the debate over abolishing the police, defunding the police, and police reform. They have published articles on how police reform "isn't good enough" and how police abolition would "keep us all safe." When Joe Biden suggested that police reform could work, Teen Vogue criticized that his policy ideas don't go far enough.
Teen Vogue thinks police abolition would “keep us all safe.”
What these articles fail to acknowledge is that police reform is an incredibly complex issue and that defunding the police would cause more harm than good. Teen Vogue’s readers are mostly young and impressionable teenage girls. Failing to acknowledge real complexities and other points of view to a young and impressionable audience is journalistically irresponsible.
Teen Vogue has gone from a fashion magazine for teenage girls to a far-left political publication aimed at young and impressionable teenagers. While Teen Vogue has every right to publish this content, it’s important to note this shift in our political culture. This is why it’s important to encourage everyone, teenage girls included, to read different news sources to help develop their political opinions.