• Mansha Anand

Inspirans | Teen Vogue

*Inspirans- Latin definition includes breathing (into), inspiring, exciting & instilling. My definition: Inspiring Humans!

Okay, okay. I've been majorly lagging on these posts but it's not because I haven't found anyone inspirational - in fact it's quite the opposite. There are so many amazing people, brands, foundations etc. that I come across, that it has become overwhelming to pick just one, every month. Now that I've had a chance to step back and think about what I want to achieve with these Inspirans posts, I'm ready to jump back into it. Instead of being a typical human and making everything way more complicated than it needs to be, I'm gonna post whenever I feel like the "Inspiran" I come across benefits a diverse collection of people.

Let's get right to it and talk about Teen Vogue, who are quite literally killing the game! Y'all know what Teen Vogue has represented in the last 14 years it's been around: Beauty, fashion, lifestyle, fluffy news etc. all aimed at teenagers and ultimately a baby Vogue. The audience was commonly and specifically identified as teenage girls, who were wrapped up in the pretty proverbial box that didn't have room for diversified interests. Fast-forward to the last two years and the publication has finally realized that teenage girls are not one-interest wonders and that the readership can extend well beyond the confines of gender binaries. The magazine's subsequent content has covered topics such as feminism, Donald Trump, political analysis, Black History Month and the environment.

The magazine took a turn when Elaine Welteroth was named editor-in-chief. Not only is Welteroth the second black woman to ever be a Chief Editor at Condé Nast but she's also the youngest editor in Condé Nast history (um HELLO, go Elaine!!) The change in Teen Vogue's mission should also be credited to teenagers, who have made it known that they need an intellectual outlet and deserve to be heard during political discourse. The fact that a ton of people were shook when Teen Vogue's writers delivered slammer after slammer, is a testament to the devaluation of these teenagers' intelligence and their interests. Why is it surprising that a teen magazine is publishing not only fashion content but political happenings? Their stories are current and help teenagers turn their anger into action. Okay and yes, Teen Vogue is also profiting from the current political climate but does that mean that their good will is extinguished? Instead, why not talk about the fact that it's producing content that is significantly more important, accurate and politically correct than its mama, Vogue (that's a whole other issue). 

Tavi Gevinson, the founder of Rookie Magazine tweeted:

 "Good will can and does coexist with wanting to make profit. I am saying that as the cultural currency/relevance of feminism goes up, confusing fiscal interest with moral interest and keeping our expectations of mainstream women’s mags so low will make us more and more likely to confuse magazines doing what they need in order to stay relevant, with advancing the cause of feminism."

Rookie magazine is the OG publication when it comes to respecting their readers' intelligence and writing about both action and fashion. Gevinson rightly sums up that making a profit does not mean that a publication's message is insincere. It brings up the notion of questioning what you read, who it is coming from and why they are speaking about said matter. There are media outlets that'll drop words like "feminism" every so often, to adhere to the social climate and for their own fiscal interest - but if you ask the right questions, you can tell what's sincere and what's not. Not to mention, that casting doubt is projecting a spotlight on marginalized writers and essentially taking away the safe place they have found at Teen Vogue; which has the audience, staff, space and funding to spread their messages. Of course, it is crucial that the marginalized voices are fully employed by Condé Nast and not just being used for the occasional quote but again, that can be quickly revealed if you ask the right questions and #stayskeptic.

Combined with the creative genius of Elaine Welteroth, Phillip Picardi and Marie Suter, Teen Vogue has take a virtual leaf out of Rookie magazine. It has transformed into a space where active and outspoken young people have an established platform, from where their voices can be heard by the magazine's millions of readers. The publication has become an ally to women and minorities, who search for valuable information from people who take them seriously because it is possible for anyone to look good and change the world, if that's what they want. Teenage girls can and do have wide interests and it's probably time other news outlets start including the future generations in conversations. Not only that, but while Lauren Duca is writing about "gaslighting" for Teen Vogue, outlets such as CNN and even TIME have failed to take matters seriously with articles such as: "Do You Eat Like a Republican or a Democrat?"... what? Incase you're still asleep, making a joke out of the election is the most likely reason that Trump won the presidential race. 

Teen Vogue is this month's Inspiran because the publication has transformed with the times, instead of trying to suppress the threat, posed by intelligent teens and their wide variety of interests, that everyone else seems to be scared of. The Teen Vogue Team has modified the way people view them and have earned the right to be taken seriously, not unlike their teenage readers. If you want to learn about what's going on today, then Teen Vogue is a great place to start, where they dissect the news for you while keeping it real and avoiding accusations of false equivalency (ahem The New York Times). The publication separates itself from mainstream news outlets by getting straight to the point, instead of being diplomatic and giving "all sides" to a story, that can really only be told one way.

While writing for Slate magazine, Mark Joseph Stern illustrates false equivalency perfectly in his piece, Teen Vogue’s Fiery Trump Takedown Shouldn’t Be a Surprise. Teen Vogue Rocks :

"The magazine does not feign objectivity [or] soft-pedal politicians’ bigotry [...] When the Baton Rouge police arrested Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson during a lawful protest, Teen Vogue tweeted the phone number of the police department and urged readers to call and demand his release. It did not run a counterbalancing op-ed calling police brutality against black men a 'myth.'"

 That, my friends, is what they call a burn.

Another brilliant thing the mag does, is feature inspiring Instagrammars in their #ShineTheory series. If you haven't heard about the Shine Theory before, Amandla Stenberg explains it best in her interview with Solange Knowles:

"when you become friends with other 􏰀powerful, like-minded people, you all just shine brighter." 

Teen Vogue's Instagram account encourages their followers to tag a favorite Instagrammer, to be featured in the #ShineTheory series. Thereby promoting an uplifting culture where users can inspire one another, by sharing what makes them feel brighter! It's a really cool way to discover talented people who you may not otherwise come across. Here are some of the accounts already featured in the series which you should def take a look at:

I'm gonna take the time to mention an article, which was published in Teen Vogue, that has received a lot of criticism (and will probably be the ammo someone will use, to rain on my Inspiran parade). The article is written by Whitney Bell and titled: "What to Get a Friend Post-Abortion." In it, Bell lists gift ideas, to give to someone who has just had an abortion. Okay, so probably not the best article idea out there but definitely not the worst. Bell basically lists gifts, from a poetry book, to a hat, to THINX underwear and implies that these would be a good idea to buy for someone who has just had an abortion; based on her claim that the worst part of an abortion is "how you're treated afterwards." Fair enough, I don't believe that Ms. Bell is trying to make light of abortion or claim, in any way, that having an abortion is not a big deal. Nor do I believe that she genuinely thinks that gifts of any kind, would make someone feel 100% better after making an important decision about their own body. Her intentions seem clear: she understands that a big part of having an abortion is the aftermath, which includes how you feel and how the people around you feel; Bell clearly mentions this before she gets into her list. Yes, it may be an abnormal way to talk about a controversial topic like abortion but it is quite obvious that the author's intentions are to help women. Her lack of addressing what her beliefs on abortion are, the political climate, planned parenthood or the procedure itself, does not automatically mean that she doesn't think any of these things are integral or more important than gifts. It literally just means she didn't mention them - so if you have a problem with it, you can politely write an email asking her what she was thinking, instead of assuming nonsense.

Nonsense like that of a pro-life teen whose video rebuttal to this article, went viral. Pro-life or Pro-choice, making a video claiming that Bell is trivializing abortion, is right-wing crazy. The video is a 16-year-olds 9 minute response, starting with the statement "abortion is a big deal [and] telling us it's not is simply feeding us a lie." Umm... where does it say that abortion is not a big deal? Her assumption, as well as the assumption of the thousands of people who liked the video, is based on the fact that Bell doesn't say abortion is a big deal. Furthermore Autumn, the teen, claims she is qualified to respond to the video because it's targeted at teens like her. False. From the information earlier in this post, it is quite obvious that Teen Vogue's audience is now vast and diversified. You need to be careful when reading/watching things like Autumn's video because it's so easy to get caught up in the heat of everything without considering who exactly, is saying what. Autumn, a pro-life teen, most likely has not had an abortion so a) is not qualified to say that this article and its content are unhelpful and b) cannot claim that every woman who has an abortion, is filled with regret forever. Also, Whitney Bell has had an abortion, as she says in her post, and is therefore qualified to write about what could make someone feel better!

I know that most of the outrage is simply pro-life propaganda, like this video, but it's videos like this that are very often the only source of information for some teens, and can therefore misconstrue important messages. Which is why it is so important to talk and write about this stuff and to keep on asking the right questions. To have the nerve to say "whether you're pro-life or choice isn't relevant here" is absolutely ridiculous, when that is all this video is based on. Ripping apart Bell's words piece by piece is a clever distraction from the brainwashing intention of the pro-life Students For Life group, that created this video. Autumn claims that Bell can't say that abortion is "more than a little terrifying" and "not so scary" and that it has to be either one or the other... girl, how the heck can you say how someone has to feel? Making broad statements such as "we can all agree that abortion is scary," is a statement that someone who is or isn't considering an abortion, should make for themselves. Saying that abortion is scary for everyone, implies that every woman has to be scared because she is having an abortion and consequently shames those women who aren't scared of the decision they're making. To be clear, both are acceptable reactions. A pro-life teen talking about how having her (imaginary, unless someone knows otherwise) baby surgically removed from her body is terrifying, how the gifts would not make her feel better and then saying if she did feel better with one of the gifts, she would need "serious counseling" - is again, shaming women. Shaming those women who feel better after having an abortion because apparently making a decision about your own body is preposterous and cannot lead to relief. Of course you hate the gifts Autumn, why would you want a "reminder of all the women who came before [you], of all the women who have marched for you, and of all those who fought to give [you] this choice."

Whew, I ranted. Thank you for reading the very long spin-off; I genuinely believe it was important to mention this video and the corresponding article. Entities, like the Students For Life group, will use any opportunity to promote hatred, disgust, bigotry and the ostracizing of people and communities they don't agree with. The video is a perfect example of the difference between opinion and hate. It is so easy to be misled by propaganda such as this "response," especially with a lack of thorough sex-education in certain parts of the United States. The purpose of this rant was to remind you, to not sit quietly when you know someone is enforcing their beliefs in a convincing but misleading manner. Teach everyone around you to ask questions, especially the younger ones who are much more easily convinced by smooth-talking.

Teen Vogue publishing the article by Bell, does not change the fact that the magazine has stepped up by encouraging a whole generation to use their voices, and talk about what they think matters. Teen Vogue and the people who work for and with the publication, are Inspirans for making progress and evolving with the times. Don't be fooled by the people who don't want you to use your intellect. The haters want magazines like Teen Vogue to continue publishing content that makes young people question their uniqueness, instead of celebrating it. Hate leads to self-doubt and that doubt leaves a teen susceptible to inaccurate information and horrible situations, like back-alley abortions.  

Teen Vogue is producing incisive political coverage, creating change, making waves, embracing diversity and promoting action, in a time when young voices are crucial for the survival of all people and future America.  

Teen Vogue is an Inspiran, that's all folks!

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