What do little boys and girls dream of? Apparently vastly different things, according to a side-by-side look at the cover of two magazines.
A photo of a Girls’ Life magazine next to a copy of Boys’ Life has set the internet on fire, fueled by parents angered over suggestions that girls only care about fashion and hair while boys think about more substantial topics.
A business owner and mother of five took to Facebook to slam the Girls’ Life editors for perpetuating gender stereotypes.
“Your cover has a lovely young lady with a full face of makeup and you invite your readers to ‘steal her secrets,’” writes Shoshanna Keats-Jaskoll, the mother of two girls and three boys. “The Boys’ Life cover has in bold letters: EXPLORE YOUR FUTURE surrounded by all kinds of awesome gear for different professions- doctor, explorer, pilot, chemist, engineer, etc. subheading — HERE’S HOW TO BE WHAT YOU WANT TO BE.”
The image, which Keats-Jaskoll says originally came from a father who snapped the picture on a magazine rack at the local library, has since gone viral, with thousands of people reacting to the post, including one who commented, "It's like we're back in 1950." It also got a boost after the image was shared Tuesday by comedian Amy Schumer, who simply wrote “No” in her caption of the photo.
The post prompted one graphic artist to come up her own version of a Girls' Life cover, featuring topics she thought the magazine should cover, such as tips on healthy food, finding a dream career and preparing for AP exams.
"When I saw the below post I was just in frickin' shock. Can this be real? Is this photo fake? After googling current issues of these two magazines I found them to be real. I was just appalled," Katherine Young wrote on her blog.
The two magazines are not affiliated with each other. Boys' Life is not a usual newsstand magazine. Instead, it is the official trade magazine of the Boy Scouts of America and, while available to anyone by subscription, is provided to all Scouts as part of their annual dues.
Girls' Life, meanwhile, promises in its "about" page to provide "the stuff girls crave — real information and advice — from academic success to peer pressure to time-management and stress-relieving tips." It also promises its readers will "get real, honest advice. Parents can trust GL to guide their girls through the growing-up years — without making them grow up too fast."
But Keats-Jaskoll, in her Facebook post, reminds the magazine's editors of their power to change widespread perceptions of girls.
"You are women. Working, professional women. Is this the message you are proud of? Is this why you became publishers, writers, graphic designers?" she writes. "To tell girls they are the sum of their fashion, makeup and hair? You CAN fight the tide of objectification of girls. You CAN create covers and stories that treat girls as more than hair, lips, and kisses."
Karen Bokram, publisher and founding editor of Girls' Life, defended the magazine and said she felt no need to apologize for anything on its cover or on its pages inside.
"And it’s probably beside the point that all of the haters who have contacted me admit they have never actually read ANY issue of Girls’ Life, no less the one being slammed (as one snarkily said 'let me guess, you have all sorts of empowering articles on the inside.' Well, m’am, yes)," Bokram said on her Facebook page. "The only thing that mattered to them was the fact they could shame us for talking about hair, clothes, beauty and boys (and ignore whatever our actual magazine might contain)."