Fashion, Beauty and… Politics? Women’s Magazines take on Politics

Women’s magazines are notorious for disseminating popular trends in fashion, beauty and culture, but in our world today haven’t politics become a popular trend? Over this last election cycle politics were infused into the everyday lives of the average American. Those who intended to ignore politics have had a difficult time because the election seeped into many parts of our culture we once thought were safe from politics and the bureaucracy in Washington.

From social media to music, the talk of the town fluttered between now-President Donald Trump, to Senator Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton and of course, the Obamas. Songs concerning current issues filled the air and your favorite celebrities and YouTube bloggers voiced their opinions and support. Even fashion designers took a political stance.

With the shift in both politics and political reporting, there is a high demand for news and information. Given the demand, women’s publications are unsurprisingly taking up the torch to bring that information to the forefront of people’s lives. Among the publications meeting this demand are magazines including Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, Glamour and Essence.

These publications are ramping up production of meaningful political pieces and establishing themselves as an excellent place to find political news. They are doing what women’s magazines and publications do best, explaining trends and information that their readers find important and distributing it in an appealing and interesting fashion. The drive of women’s magazines is still the same; however, they are meeting the need for an increase in knowledge about political leaders and issues.

While publications like Cosmo, Essence and Marie Claire have all established politics sections as a result of the election and our newly inaugurated president, their production of political pieces has both increased and expanded organically.

Until the recent election, the publications focused on political issues facing women and the rise of  women in politics. Now, the conversation has shifted. While these publications still prioritize women’s issues, their coverage has expanded to the actions of politicians and topics such as the economy, healthcare and the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration.

In addition, more women’s magazines have added a politics section both online and within the magazine. Magazines like Teen Vogue, Vanity Fair and Glamour opened their sections during the 2016 election cycle. These publications have worked hard to produce meaningful pieces and excellent commentary on the political atmosphere both domestically and internationally. Teen Vogue in particular has sparked conversation within the journalism world for showing its ability to report breaking news and have a sharp political voice. Their focus on women’s rights and politics helps to bring information and knowledge to a younger demographic and provides a voice for the younger generation.

The importance of media literacy is increasing with the changing political climate. With this generation of young people growing up on the internet, it is not surprising that publications like Teen Vogue decided to add politics to their repertoire.

Much of the success of these sections is contingent on those who write for them. Lily Herman, originally brought on as a tech reporter for Teen Vogue in March, transitioned from her role in both the Tech and the “My Life” department to a politics reporter who is producing pieces that comment on topics ranging from climate change to activism. Through her work and the work of others within the section, Teen Vogue is, according to Herman, engaging “an audience that isn’t the target demographic” and bringing politics to the forefront of young women’s lives.

Herman said in an interview with MediaFile that she hopes that her pieces will continue to “amplify a variety of different perspectives and voices” and is “excited to see more people engage with that content and also see what young women are thinking and talking about.”

And publications like Teen Vogue, Cosmo and Vanity Fair are just the places to expand a dialogue. Women now have publications that focus on the concerns of women in politics and how politics affect women. According to Herman, publications like Teen Vogue “never water anything down or assume that anyone reading isn’t intelligent; it’s just about providing information in a smart, easy-to-read way that gets people excited to know what’s happening in the country and [around] the world.” Because of their ability to print hard hitting stories in a manner that will engage young readers, a new generation and group of people will have the opportunity to understand and interact with world happenings.

Not only does Teen Vogue reach young women but, according Herman, “another fun side effect of the election and all the coverage of Teen Vogue itself is that it’s also drawn in an audience that isn’t the target demographic.”

After one of their pieces went viral, Teen Vogue began gaining traction in different circles than their target demographic of teens and young females, even reaching people like David Folkenfilk of NPR and Dan Rather, a nightly news legend. Gaining recognition from The Atlantic and The Washington Post and a host of other publications. In addition, some of their articles have obtained over 5 million likes on the site and counting.

Even for people who “don’t know why a magazine that’s for young kids with fashion/beauty/celeb gossip is taking a hard political stance,” the move to educate young people — and young women in particular — and highlight issues that they might find interesting or important is a crucial one.

Women’s magazines like Teen Vogue are pushing the envelope and recognizing that just because a woman might care about how to look fierce when it is freezing outside does not mean that they do not care about President Trump’s plans to continue the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. They have served as a source for the best in fashion, beauty and relationship tips, so why not politics?

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