Teen Reality

Every so often I pick up a teen magazine just to get an idea of what’s “new and hot” as they say, in the teen world. It may not be what all teens are into, but they do read these things (at least I did as a teen from time to time). As an adult reading them, I’m constantly aware of the contradictory information they print. Is it to show both sides of an issue or to appease parents or other adult so they can say, “Look we showed both sides!” I suspect it’s the latter. Here’s what I mean. In, “Comments of the Month” (comments from teens about the last issue), I read this: “I am honestly proud of Seventeen for the pregnancy article in February’s issue [“Why Are So Many Girls Still Getting Pregnant?”]. Instead of just teaching abstinence, you guys taught reality. Now I feel prepared and educated about sex. Seventeen magazine broke out of the norm and gave beneficial and life-changing information. Thanks for really helping us!” Rachel, 16 But then I read a really good article, which I was a little surprised was in Seventeen, call “Worth Waiting For” written by Jennifer Weiner, an adult who, if she could go back in time, would tell her young self about the emotional side of sex. I won’t reprint the whole thing, but here are a few quotes so that you can get the gist: “If I could fly backwards in time and find my 16-year-old self . . . there’s all kinds of things I’d tell her . . . .Then I’d sit her down and tell her not to have sex with her high school boyfriend.” Jennifer met her 23 year-old boyfriend at a party and fell in love. “I knew how to prevent STDs and pregnancies, and I figured that sex was a given – he was older.” But she continues: “The part nobody talked about in health class or at home or in the movies – the part I’d tell my former self, . . . is that, for young women, what you do with your body often ends up binding your heart.” She spent the next four years obsessively attached to this boyfriend. Her college years were spent going home to see him every chance she got. She passed on Spring breaks, traveling abroad and other exciting adventures including getting to know other guys. So what is a teen to make of the contradiction? In the February issue, Seventeen is pushing “safe” sex and teaching “reality” as the Rachel sees it. Yet, according to Jennifer, looking back, she was taught everything about safe sex and yet no one even mentioned the reality of emotional attachment. This contradiction just confuses teens on such an important issue. I do appreciate the article “Worth the Wait”. I just hope teens will walk away with Jennifer’s reality, which is truth, and not Rachel’s.

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