TheInSite: What makes blue jean magazine different from all the other magazines for teen girls?
Mollie: There are no other magazines out there that are either written or produced by girls like us. Or even focused on things other than boys and beauty. People always ask me, "If you don't talk about guys or make-up, what do you talk about?" What are girls interested in? There's no one answer to that!
TI: So what does blue jean write about?
Mollie: It's so diverse! We write about anything interesting and try to show all the choices that girls have [among]...all the intriguing things that are out there.
TI. How did you first get involved in blue jean?
Mollie: Two years ago I was walking into my local library and I saw a flyer up on the wall saying: "We're starting this new magazine for teen girls, focused on what young women are thinking, saying and doing. Advertising free. No [articles about] make-up. No models." I couldn't believe there was somebody else who had the idea that there was something wrong with these [other teen] magazines. I never thought they reflected anything close to real life. There was an essay contest to join the teen editorial board. I was so excited about it I copied down the address and went home and sent in an essay and joined a couple of weeks later. Since then I've become the assistant editor and the spokesperson as well.
blue jean magazine Teen Editoral Board
Photo courtesy of blue jean magazine
TI: Good for you to have been so clear about what you wanted and for going right after it and getting it! So you really were there from the beginning.
Mollie: Not at the very beginning, but I joined the board pretty much on the same day the first issue came out.
TI: I've heard that you have a circulation of over 100,000 in two years. That's incredible!
Mollie: blue jean is so different and there's been such a huge gap [between real teen life and what's reflected in other magazines], that once people hear about blue jean [and what it's about], it really catches peoples attention.
TI: But it can't all be word of mouth.
Mollie: Right. I do a lot of [public] speaking at schools or local colleges. Interviews. However we can get the word out. We just did a huge mailing to school libraries. It's just a constant struggle to get the word out there. I was interviewed once by a newspaper in Australia. They wanted to talk to a 17 year old about being 17 in America because Chelsea Clinton was turning 17. I was quoted in the article as...."Mollie Goldstein, assistant editor, blue jean magazine." You know, the more times we can get the name [of the magazine] to show up, the better!
TI: We wanted to interview you because so many of blue jean's goals are right in line with the goals of The InSite. The idea to empower young people by cutting through the media hype which has been poisoning the minds of young for way too long. Encouraging them to believe that their only value, as individuals, is in their looks!
Mollie: We believe all kinds of things because that's what we see in the media. It's so empowering to know that there are people out there that think like you do. That's one thing that I've personally gotten out of blue jean and it's one of my goals in working of the magazine - to reach out to other girls and let them know, "You know, you are not the only one! That's not what you have to be like."
TI: You said when you first read the flyer in the library, you couldn't believe anyone else, besides you, thought there was anything wrong with the typical teen magazine.
Mollie: I was astonished! And now there are thousands of girls who realize that's true.
TI: Can you tell me what kinds of feedback you get from the girls who are discovering blue jean? From this army of 100,000 subscribers who believe in alternatives to fashion and beauty and who want to read and learn about all of their options in life. What's the big picture?
Mollie: I think our strength is in making people aware. The more you realize what kind of images and values you've been hearing from the mainstream media, the more you can identify them and choose to reject them. What we do is make people aware that they're being manipulated. And that this is not how things have to be.
TI: Sounds like a social revolution in the making!
Mollie: I can't say that by publishing [this] magazine we're going to revolutionize the way that the media portrays young women. But I do see it as sparking some awareness and putting out another option. That there's another voice... that there's a lot of other voices out there that are not being heard!
TI: Gotten any criticism from teen girls?
Mollie: Yes. Girls and guys. And I think it stems from a misunderstanding. We've gotten some letters: "How can you say that young women don't think about make-up and boys? I'm a strong woman and I still wear make-up!" People seem to think that we're saying people don't think about this stuff at all. What we're saying is: "There's other stuff to think about. We've only got 36 pages, so we're going to spend our time talking about the other things."
TI: I'm glad you are! Because the importance of beauty and boyfriends has sure been reinforced for long enough. And for decades, teen girls have been buying into it all without question. Why do you think that's so?
Mollie: A lot of it has to do with plain old insecurity, I think. Adolescent girls, myself included, are at a real uncertain time period. It's real easy for magazines or our own interpretation of the things we see... to have some body else tell us what's the right thing to do and what's the right way to think. The advertising and the articles in a lot of main stream magazines really make me feel preyed upon. They sell based on [their power to] reinforce all your little insecurities, providing these instant solutions. You see an article about "How to get rid of that bulge in your tummy" and you immediately think, "Oh my god! Do I have a bulge?"
TI: Why do you think those magazines are writing those kinds of lame articles?
Mollie: It all comes down to accepting advertising. In women's and girl's magazines, the advertisers expect not only [the display ad] that they're paying for, but also complimentary editorial copy. So next to the Revlon ad will be an article on the hot new lipstick colors that happen to be manufactured by Revlon. I was speaking on a panel once and this woman in the audience stood up and said, "I'm a writer for Seventeen Magazine. I take offense from everything you just said, and what we write is what girls want to hear!" The mistake [that mainstream teen magazines make] is talking about the same things (diets, relationships, hair styles) over and over again. And also assuming that writing an article on how to kiss the "perfect" guy or how to pick the exact right color of foundation is going to solve anything!
TI: By eliminating all that focus on looks, blue jean is really teaching girls that there is something essentially valuable about each of us, and that is who we are as people.
Mollie: And that's our goal, as well as to keep going and keep growing!
TI: I'm sure your subscribers really appreciate the amazing job everyone at blue jean does to create this magazine. You are changing the world!
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