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The Seventeen Magazine Project: Smarter than We Were in High School

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Our favorite thing about The Seventeen Magazine Project—wherein Jamie Keiles, high school senior from Pennsylvania, attempts to live one month of her life in accordance with "the gospel of Seventeen magazine"—is that Keiles doesn't just blindly follow wheresoever magazine editors take her, she analyzes the publication every step of the way.

For example, yesterday she wrote extensively on how LGBT teens are all but ignored in the pages of mainstream teen media. Keiles also makes it a point to balance her Seventeen-related activities with real-teen activities—such as eating french fries dipped in ice cream. And then there's the hot guy project, during which Keiles sticks photos of the hot guys from the magazine on her bedroom wall—and analyzes the sociolinguistics behind the story as well as the guys' professional breakdowns (see above).

She's also got her analysis of fashion's perennial "tribal" trend down pat:

I've been consciously avoiding trying this trend though, which Seventeen calls "Bright Prints," because to me it seems like a thinly veiled variation on the "tribal" trend. Actually, its not even veiled at all. The blurb describing the look explains, "These tribal patterns have an 'I picked this up on vacation' feel, so you can look like you traveled the world—without leaving your backyard!"

Besides the obvious absurdity of trying to use clothes as a substitute for actual travel experiences, I'm not okay with this editorial because I'm uncomfortable getting behind a trend that seems to lump all non-Western cultures together under the homogenous, inaccurate, and offensive moniker of "tribal." It takes fashion's habit of cultural appropriation one step further by saying, "Not only are we going to mark elements of your culture as passing trends, but we are going to marginalize them by packaging them together with elements from other unrelated cultures as well." Simply put, the whole thing sends a message that says, "Look how adooorable (and marketable) other cultures are!" It reeks of colonialism to me. I'm not opposed to designers taking fashion inspiration from artifacts of other cultures, but I'm opposed to this practice being insensitively marketed as tribal. It creates a distinct "us" and "them" dichotomy....

When it came down to it, though, I wore the outfit on my shopping trip, and nobody seemed to notice or care about which cultures I did or did not appropriate. In fact, plenty of stores stocked things that fit perfectly within this trend, which is at least an indicator that Seventeen is successful at highlighting current trends. I would be concerned if they weren't, though, since this is basically the only direct redeeming quality about the publication that I have been able to ascertain up until this point.

· The Seventeen Magazine Project [Official Site]