Seventeen magazine, for teen  girls, was first published in 1944.  Publisher Walter Annenberg and  Seventeen’s first  editor  Helen Valentine created a magazine that has  now  become the  queen of the  teenage magazine market stand. This  service magazine for young  women was the  first of its kind  in the  United States.  Since the  inception of Seventeen, the  magazine has  been  sold  to  the  Rupert Murdoch family of businesses, to Primedia Company, and  to its present owner, the  Hearst Corporation.


Researchers of Seventeen have  found the  main  emphasis of the  magazine to  be the importance of beauty. The  magazine provides a variety of content but  still focuses the majority of its effort on beauty  problems. It gives information and advice about fashion and  trends, celebrities, beauty, and  lifestyle. There are sections on skincare, hair and makeup, health, nutrition and exercise, sex and the body, quizzes, and  horoscopes. Also strewn  within  the  covers  are sections on  colleges  and education and an exclusive  cover-to-cover issue on prom.


In the beginning stages of Seventeen, market research showed that its young  female readers were  between the  ages  of 16  and  17  and  were  influential in  the  family purchases. They  had  enough money  to see movies  and  purchase sodas,  makeup, and clothing, and what they could  not cover they knew their  middle-class parents would. As the  magazine progressed, the  content stayed  the  same,  but  the  target market branched out  to include girls between the ages of 14 and  21. Today, with an emerging tween market there  have been  some  complaints that  the  once  exclusively teen  magazine is now attracting a prepubescent readership.


The  main  goal  of Seventeen was to  help  young  female  consumers find  the  right products to purchase to be successful, popular, and  most  importantly beautiful. Seventeen was  designed as a shopping guide;  a source where  young  girls  could reference current trends and  learn  where  to find these  products. The  teenage girl was also spotlighted as having  a viable economic market value and  the  ability to become a consumer extraordinaire, making it much easier to sell the magazine to both advertisers and young  women.


Seventeen magazine faces competition from  a range  of publications and Web sites that  often  seem  less dated  and  more  suited for a generation of teens  raised  on Sex and the City, reality shows, and  designer brand labels.  Cosmo Girl and  Elle Girl (now  exclusively  Web  sites), as well as Teen Vogue and  YM  Magazine, offer edgy articles  on topics  that  range  from music  divas to male hotties, as well as high-end fashion.

In the face of competition, Seventeen has opted out of any kind of real makeover. Instead, the magazine touts what can best be defined  as a heartland aesthetic with familiar  suburban mall styles and  mainstream content. While  Seventeen may offer articles  on  teen  icons  and  advice  on  boys,  it avoids  the  more  titillating tabloid trends, thus  making the  magazine quaintly retro—hawking simple  beauty  and style.

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