TeenVogue.com is an online magazine geared towards tweens and teens that covers a wide variety of topics, ranging from fashion and beauty to environment and government. It has recently come under fire for one of its more provocative topics geared towards teenage girls — sexting.
Teen Vogue’s Readers
With 11.6 million digital users and 13.6 million social media followers, Teen Vogue has an enormous audience. Teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 19 are Teen Vogue’s target demographic. The teen years are a very special time in a girl’s life because they’re beginning to find their place in the world, form their morals and values, and plan their future.
The teen years are also a confusing time in a girl’s life because they’re going through many changes — both physical and emotional. They’re also starting to date and get into serious romantic relationships that may or may not be sexual as well. Many teens aren’t comfortable talking to their parents or other trusted adults about these new experiences, so they turn to magazines like Teen Vogue for advice.
Encouraging Underage Girls To Sext
Unfortunately, Teen Vogue is abusing the trust teenage girls are giving it because they’re encouraging underage girls to sext. Sexting is defined as the sending and receiving of explicit or nude photos and videos of yourself to others via cell phone, computer, social media, or another digital device. Although laws vary by state, underage sexting is illegal in many of them and is a crime under federal law. In some states, if a minor is caught sending or keeping a received sext, it’s considered child pornography. In that case, a minor can be prosecuted and convicted of a felony and given much harsher criminal charges, including having to register as a sex offender for life.
Teen Vogue is encouraging minors to exploit their bodies in order to please and keep a boy in their life.
A quick search for “sexting” on Teen Vogue’s website populates articles with titles like “7 Key Tips For Sending Your Best Sexts Ever” and “How to Sext - Safely.” Knowing that these articles are targeted at girls as young as 13 years old is appalling and alarming. Instead of giving young girls valuable advice about relationships, respect, healthy boundaries, and self-worth, Teen Vogue is encouraging minors to exploit their bodies in order to please and keep a boy in their life. (And depending on where the readers live, encouraging them to break the law.)
Sexting Is Unsafe
Besides it being against the law in many states, sexting also puts young girls in danger. Sex predators and sex traffickers are notorious for posing as a peer online, gaining a girl’s trust, and then grooming her into sexual activity, both online and offline. Even if a girl feels that she can trust her sext receiver 100%, even if it’s her longtime boyfriend, it can later be used for sextortion, revenge porn, and other forms of sexual exploitation.
Sex predators and sex traffickers are notorious for posing as a peer online.
According to the Internet Watch Foundation, self-generated imagery accounts for almost a third of websites with child pornography, and of those images, more than a third are girls between the ages of 11 and 13
Sexting, and other age-inappropriate sexual activities, can lead to serious negative psychological effects in girls, including depression and suicide. The bottom line is, sexting is not worth the many dangerous risks it puts girls in, no matter how old they are.
Enough Is Enough Petition
Enough Is Enough (EIE) has had enough of Teen Vogue, which they’re referring to as “a parent’s worst nightmare.” EIE is a national organization devoted to the online safety of children and families. They started a petition on May 5, 2020 to shut down Teen Vogue, stating that the “digital publication's reckless content, evidenced by its countless sexually-exploitative articles encouraging its ‘teen’ demographic consisting of 13 – 19-year-olds to participate in dangerous, risky, and often illegal sexual activities, must be stopped immediately.” As of May 31, 2020, EIE is a little over 7,000 signatures away from reaching their goal.
This is not the first time EIE has tried to shut Teen Vogue down. In 2017, EIE started a “Say No To Teen Vogue” campaign after the online magazine published the article, “Anal Sex: What You Need to Know/How To Do it the Right Way.” This article, which has no place in a teen publication in the first place, failed to mention the health risks associated with anal sex, which the CDC says has the highest risk of transmitting HIV. Time and time again, Teen Vogue has produced unsafe sexual content geared towards minors.
Although Teen Vogue started out as a trusted and fun teen publication primarily focused on fashion and beauty, it has truly morphed into a parent’s worst nightmare. Most teenage girls aren’t going to go to their parents for sex advice, so they’re going to continue to rely on teen magazines like Teen Vogue. To be honest, even if Teen Vogue does get shut down, girls are going to find alternatives for sex advice, whether it’s by talking to friends or simply Googling it — and just like Teen Vogue, it will most likely be bad advice.
As a mother of a tween girl myself, I filter what she does online and I constantly talk to her about Internet safety. I’m not naive though. As she gets older and more curious about her sexuality, she won’t want to talk to me about it. I know I won’t be able to filter her from the Internet or from life. She will make her own decisions, and in true teenage fashion, I know some of them will be mistakes. As uncomfortable as it may be to have talks about sexting (and other related topics) with our daughters, it’s our job to educate them and make sure they have all of the facts. Will the conversations be uncomfortable? You bet! Will you regret having them? Never.