I was browsing the internet, as I am wont to do, and noticed a pattern amongst magazine covers. The same celebrity will market themselves differently to the demographic of each magazine. On America’s Next Top Mode, Tyra would always say to the models if it’s a men’s photo shoot stick your booty and chest out, if it’s a women’s magazine create awkward shapes and minimize the sex appeal. Her tactics hold true for just about every celebrity who is famous enough to cover all three kinds of magazines, teen being the third here. Now that’s what I call mass appeal. If you want to know how celebrities stay relevant it’s not by wholly by what they do, it’s by their ability to appeal to different audiences. A woman has to be sexy for men, fashionable and autonomous for women, and easy going for teens. Let’s take a further look.
Men’s magazines like GQ, Esquire and Maxim always sexualize a woman’s body. The body is usually almost naked, with breasts and butts peaking out of whatever incidental piece of clothing the woman has on. Usually she is making a suggestively sexual expression. In this one Rihanna has a kind of powerful, “come hither” expression.
Teen Girl Mags
Teen magazines have a younger audience so bodies are hardly ever exposed. Usually the bottom halves of bodies aren’t even shown. The close-up shot is intended to be more personal and relatable, which is typically the approach magazines use to engage with younger viewers: very personal, conversational, like, “Hey, I’m Rihanna, want to be my best friend!” You’ll notice that Rihanna is smiling. In almost every cover a teen magazine, you’ll find that the celebrity is smiling.
Women’s Fashion Mags
Women’s and fashion magazines tend to appeal to an older audience. They also want to sell images to a more affluent audience. So while Seventeen and Vogue are targeted at women there is a huge disparity between the way the same celebrity is styled. Incidentally, the clothing on both kinds of magazines would probably be luxury items to most people, yet the garments on Vogue will appear more luxurious and expensive, while those on Seventeen will look less avant garde and more imitable. Teen magazines will use bright, bold, soft colors like pinks, yellows, greens, whereas women’s magazines will use more understated colors. Even when high fashion magazines use brighter colors, you’ll notice that the lighting is dim and shadowy to create a more muted and understated tone. Bodies will be exposed but not sexualized in women’s magazines. The expressions on the covers are not antagonizing but they aren’t essentially welcoming either. The covers usually feel more like portraits of the celebrities, images caught off guard, rather than the pose-y ones you’ll see on men’s and teen’s magazines.
From these magazine covers one would conclude that teen girls only relate to happiness and beaded necklaces, men to sex and women to sadness and fancy dresses.