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Living By 'Seventeen' Magazine's Rules

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Living By 'Seventeen' Magazine's Rules

Living By 'Seventeen' Magazine's Rules

Living By 'Seventeen' Magazine's Rules

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For a month, 18-year-old Jamie Keiles decided to live according to the advice of Seventeen magazine and blog about it. She dressed in the "glam camp" style, she exfoliated, she shopped, she waxed. She painted her nails — a lot. And at the end of the project, she decided she liked the magazine even less than she had before — which wasn't that much. Michele Norris talks to Keiles about her project, and why she decided to do it in the first place.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

For decades, Seventeen magazine has been doling out advice on boys, hair, makeup, clothing and friendship. Well, 18-year-old Jamie Keiles of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, decided to spend a month living the gospel of Seventeen magazine and then blogging all about it.

Judging from her posts, she appears to be fearless. She's tried almost anything. She wore a floaty vintage dress with a fun, vintage, sash belt. She's exfoliated, she's waxed, she's done her eyebrows several times, and Jamie Keiles joins us now to tell us all about her adventure.

Jamie, why did you decide that Seventeen magazine would become your online manifesto for all things?

Ms. JAMIE KEILES (Blogger): I'm a senior in high school so I just graduated, but I've had a lot of free time in school to do really nothing except wait to graduate.

So I was spending a lot of time in the library just reading, and one day, I ventured over into the teen magazine section, not an area I usually read in, and I kind of got to reading the Seventeen magazine, and I was thinking: This is ridiculous. I wonder why actually follows this advice. And then I was like this could be me. What if I actually followed it? What if I took this advice on a sort of extremely literal level? And then I was like why don't I do it?

So I did it, and it just sort of got me thinking about what sort of standards does media set for young girls and just women in general and people in general in society, and how do like what sort of role does beauty play in shaping our worth as a person?

NORRIS: So you did this over 30 days, is that correct?

Ms. KEILES: Correct.

NORRIS: Can you tell us about some of the things you had to do to basically live the Seventeen magazine lifestyle?

Ms. KEILES: The first day of the project, so I was going to follow the glam camp trend that the project recommended, which was like a sort of fusion of, like, 1950s camping gear and, like, glamorous rhinestone kind of stuff.

I was going to DSW to buy shoes for the prom. So I woke up in the morning, took a shower, I braided my hair in their side ponytail braid that they recommended.

NORRIS: The mermaid braid.

Ms. KEILES: The mermaid braid for thick hair because I have thick hair, which I actually really like. That's, like, one of the hairstyles that I'm going to keep from this project.

Then I put on a full face of makeup, which entailed, like, cover up, bronzer, blush, powder for my face, eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, lip gloss, lipstick, the whole nine yards of makeup.

Then I put on shorts, I put on a shirt. Like, the clothes themselves weren't that crazy, but then it involved two layers of socks and sandal heels and a bunch of jewelry.

And then I went to DSW in that outfit because I'm assuming Seventeen doesn't just expect me to sit down at home in my giant, five-inch heels and socks. So I went out, and I walked around DSW to do some shopping because Seventeen recommends shopping as a lot of their activities.

People were pretty friendly to me, actually. People like seeing you when you walk around overdressed for an event. I don't know why. But I walked around, and then I went home. Then usually by the end of this day for every day of this project, I felt like my face was really dirty. I always was really thrilled to wash my face at the end of the day.

NORRIS: I'm looking at the picture of you in those heels. Girlfriend, those heels are how high are they, five inches, six inches?

Ms. KEILES: I think they were probably, like, four or five inches, yeah.

NORRIS: How were you able to walk in those?

Ms. KEILES: Carefully, very carefully.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORRIS: So wait, you did this for 30 days.

Ms. KEILES: Yes.

NORRIS: And the run ended yesterday.

Ms. KEILES: Correct.

NORRIS: So today are you sitting around in sweat pants?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. KEILES: Sort of. I'm wearing jeans and, like, a hippie smock thing and a scarf.

NORRIS: Did you develop any kind of affinity for Seventeen magazine?

Ms. KEILES: No, no. Before, I could appreciate it as some sort of, like, guilty pleasure. The more I had to read it, the more I started to resent it and resent getting ready in the morning.

NORRIS: So if you had any advice to pass on to the editors of Seventeen magazine because I have a feeling they're going to be listening what would you tell them?

Ms. KEILES: I would say you have the unique position as a piece of media as having a captive audience of teenage girls. You don't have any sort of responsibility except to offer them something that they would like. It's an enjoyment thing. So I'd love to see them just use this opportunity to sort of reinvent themselves as a go-to for, like, innovative articles on arts and culture and crafts and current events.

And, I mean, let's set the bar a little higher for teen girls. Like, we're not all about hair and makeup. We're a unique group. I'd love to see Seventeen give girls something a little more to strive for.

NORRIS: Jamie, it has been a pleasure talking to you. All the best to you.

Ms. KEILES: Oh, thank you.

NORRIS: I've been speaking to 18-year-old Jamie Keiles. She's been working on the Seventeen Magazine Project, where she spent the past 30 days living by the gospel of Seventeen magazine and then blogging about it.

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