by Charlotte Walker
In early December 2016, Lauren Duca’s article, arguing that Donald Trump is ‘gas lighting’ America was published on the Teen Vogue website. Duca’s article notes the treacherous times to come regarding America’s President Elect and his manipulative methods that led to his electoral victory and position as one of, if not the most powerful person in the world. The article went viral but sadly not primarily for the issues that it raised. Rather than responses being along the lines of how can we prevent this from happening again? Or how do we stop politicians from destabilizing publications and journalists for political-advancement? The article was met with shock not from its readers but from perhaps an older generation who could not comprehend the fact that young people, young girls in particular, could be interested in anything other than Instagram and make up.
The article received many reactions on Twitter. For example, American comedian Michael Ian Black who tweeted ‘It’s almost 2017 and Donald Trump is President and Teen Vogue is the paper of record. I guess we can cancel comedy’ to other journalists such as David Folkenflik ‘Did not expect this exegesis of gaslighting and its relationship to current day politics from Teen Vogue’. The shock induced from a publication whose target audience is young women publishing an article about current political affairs has been echoed by many people throughout mainstream media. Some compared it to some earlier editions where the publications content ranged from acne treatment to Jennifer Anniston’s niece’s birthday party.
However, though it is positive to see people finally acknowledging young women’s interests in politics, what I find shocking is not that it is published on Teen Vogue; not that it was written by a female under 40; not that it was and is being read by young women; but that the public and media are more surprised that young women are interested in current affairs than what Duca’s article is professing. This being that Trump has gas lighted a whole nation and that the President Elect is potentially a sexual predator.
Young people are becoming more and more politically aware and instead of being shocked and telling them to stop worrying about things that do not concern them we should be encouraging them to participate in and have an interest in the one thing that determines their future. Here in the UK it is evident that young people are becoming more active in politics. According to the BBC, during the Scottish referendum over 100,000 16-17 year olds registered to vote after being given the chance to do so. This mass participation of the youth was repeated in the EU referendum when 64 percent of the age bracket opted to vote on June 23rd which was higher than it has been for two decades per LSE. Therefore, why are we still shocked when politics is a topic discussed in a publication aimed at young women.
Duca’s article is not the first political piece published by Teen Vogue. The publication has covered a vast range of current affairs from women’s rights, climate change and even went as far to fully and publically endorse Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate for the first time. Therefore, I believe that the strong reception to Duca’s article was not merely the fact that it was written by a young woman and published on Teen Vogue but that it held shocking truths about the nature of American politics. It is these truths expressed in her article that should be central to the media debate and not whether Duca should be sticking to writing makeup tutorials.
Even with a female prime minister in the UK, Theresa May’s political decisions seem to come secondary to her fashion choices and however outrageous her clothing choices, I would much rather hear her plans for the country, whether I agree with them or not.
Ultimately, Teen Vogue is directed primarily at young women and its contents is fashion. Fashion can be defined as not only clothes or styles but as the manner of doing something and the fashion in which Donald Trump became President is a topic worth discussing. We should stop being shocked that young women are interested in the world around them and instead listen what they have to stay about it.