Wolf in sheep’s clothing: Nylon Magazine

In Culture on August 17, 2010 at 4:36 am

       John F. Kennedy Airport. That’s where I picked up the first issue of Nylon I had ever seen. It was 2005 and the issue had Kelly Osbourne on the cover and bright graphics on its pages that worked nicely in the collages that I made. I eventually stopped buying Nylon because it became just like buying Seventeen or Cosmogirl!. There are only so many brands of lip gloss or types of boots that you can read about before the brain deflates from not being used.

       This magazine’s focus is fashion and pop culture, I understand, but in a video interview about Nylon and why Nylon came about, Marvin Scott Jarrett, one of the co-founders, said “here’s some cool music, here’s some cool clothes” for girls. The key, offensive words are ‘cool’ and ‘girls’. No one should tell you what to listen to or what to wear. Also, it only weaved a small box of things for the readers to take or keep interest in. Maybe at one time the magazine was as simple as featuring good music and interesting things to wear, but now it’s mostly pages showing off expensive and unnecessary accessories and clothing. The more you purchase, the closer you are to achieving “the look”; the look that fits your so-called lifestyle. This magazine is geared to get the reader to purchase things they never needed that were never really that original, and the music and art that’s mildly sprinkled on a few pages turns into another accessory on the shelf.

       Several subscription cards are littered throughout the magazine with Mischa Barton on the cover. It says, “Mischa Barton exposed!” and she’s wearing a denim vest with nothing underneath- as if the only way to expose a female is by taking her clothes off. As if that’s all she has to offer. The first 10 pages are dedicated to the same brand names in the form of advertisements of women with blank faces selling you a handbag or a pair of sunglasses. There’s only one ad with a girl smiling and having fun in the pictures. The rest are generic looking models that not only could very well be the same person, but also look quite similar to mannequins. Are mannequins designed to look like people, or are people designed to look like mannequins? What do mannequins do? They sell you a product. What does Nylon do but sell you a sub-culture?

       There are hardly any reflections of the foundation of why Nylon can even exist. The people that wore these clothes, the people that are interviewed for Nylon, the musicians featured in Nylon- are all doing more than wearing Chanel’s velvet platform shoes or a necklace with a mustache charm on it. Though, is that all girls are supposed to be interested in? This trendy, hip side of culture that Nylon copies and pastes onto its pages; wasn’t it based on music and ideas?

        I really can’t appreciate the fact that there are no mainstream magazines for girls to read that don’t tell them they need to be attractive all the time and that don’t feature articles on anything about life or the world except what young socialites are up to. Why can’t girls be encouraged to learn how to play an instrument, instead of how to apply liquid eyeliner? Why not dream about visiting a foreign country instead of dreaming that the boy in Algebra will ask her out? What to wear is not a real problem. Girls need something else to think about, because being self-absorbed is too easy.

        An article in October of 08’s issue is entitled “Electric Youth: This year’s crop of It Girls…” Out of the ten random girls interviewed and listed, five are models, two do not know or pretend not to know what the definition of ‘It Girl’ is, one dreams of becoming a housewife, and another wants to host club nights where only girl groups are played because she “doesn’t get sick of hearing these girls singing about, ‘Why doesn’t he love me?’” A few are interesting, though I wonder on what grounds were these girls chosen. One quote that suited the article was, “I would hope that an It Girl would be a girl that is hard-working and inspires other young women to pursue whatever they want. Most of the women I consider to be ‘It Girls’ are the ones who are doing things, who are taking any situation and making the best of it- not even the best of it; making it fabulous.” I would hope so, too. If that’s not the definition of It Girl, then it should be changed so that it is.

        Why aren’t the media and magazines like Nylon doing their best to help the self-esteem and ideas of girls instead of crippling them and giving them the wrong tools necessary to step outside and create; instead of fueling the fire on the already rampant idea that looking the part is the main ingredient? The answer is that looking the part is not enough. If there is nothing behind a look, an outfit, or a list of trendy bands or movies, then there is nothing really there. It’s probably time to stop accepting perceptions and start creating our own again.

“…It’s sad to think what the state of rock n’ roll will be in 20 years from now… Kids really don’t care about rock n’ roll anymore. It’s already turned into a fashion statement and as an identity for kids to use as a tool to fuck and have a social life. I really can’t see music being of any importance to a teenager really.” –Kurt Cobain: from interviews done with Michael Azerrad in 1992 and 1993

-Gina Moccio

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