Teen magazine review—Vervegirl
Vervegirl is a Canadian magazine aimed at young women ages 14-24. It is published by Youth Culture Group, a Toronto-based media company. Vervegirl covers the latest in fashion, beauty, health, and careers, plus celebrity profiles. Published seven times per year, Vervegirl is a free publication and is distributed to 1,400 high schools and 42 postsecondary campuses across Canada.
Looking at the two most recent issues of the Vervegirl, what impressed me most were the magazine’s smart and strong Canadian content, and its appealing and youthful design. Yes, there were the requisite fashion, beauty, and celebrity pieces that we’ve come to expect from this genre, but at least they featured Canadian manufactured products and Canadian personalities. The Holiday/Fashion 2008 issue profiled Canadian fashion designers Melinda-Mae Harlingten and Dustin Millgan and also highlighted Canadian-made fashion items and accessories throughout. The March/ Prom issue contained feature profiles of up-and-coming Canadian recording-artist, Amanda Morra and eTalk entertainment reporter, Tanya Kim.
I was also very pleased to see that among the beauty and fashion spreads, there were several well-researched and “serious” articles on topics of interest and relevance to teen girls. One of the best articles I came across was a career piece called “Work It Out: Five Young Women Making their Mark.” The article profiles five young women between the ages of 21-28 who are working in various careers in the film and fashion industries. I liked that the individuals profiled were quite young-not much older than the magazine’s target audience-and that they each reflected on how their post-secondary education helped them to land their current jobs. This would certainly be of interest to readers who may be trying to decide what college or university they want to attend or those who are considering potential career paths. The March 2009 also included a helpful piece on how to land an ideal summer job.
I was bothered, however, by the fact that the magazine was quite heavy on advertorial. In both of the issues I examined, there were at least three “sponsored” spreads which were nearly indistinguishable from the regular editorial content. By “sponsored” I mean pages which were designed to look like editorial pieces, but feature a particular product or store. I was somewhat disappointed to see that even the Sex Q&A column is sponsored by hpvinfo.ca.
The magazine also suffers from many of the same drawbacks as other teen magazines. Namely, some of the items it features are completely unaffordable for the average person, much less so for a teenager. I’m willing to wager that the average Canadian teenager isn’t willing or able to spend $300 on a pair of gloves or drop $150 on a camisole. Also, I found that the magazine’s coverage was very concentrated on Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Most of the people and places featured hailed from these three major cities. It would have been nice to see some other parts of Canada represented.
I recently learned that Vervegirl will soon make its newsstand debut. The magazine is now also available for subscription. I’m a bit hesitant to recommend that libraries add it to their teen magazine collection largely due to the abundance of advertorial I saw. At the same time, there is a very limited number of high-quality, Canadian publications available for teen readers. Vervegirl is certainly comparable to Cosmogirl or Seventeen in terms of its interest and relevance to teens.
It is also worth mentioning thatVervegirl‘s companion website, Vervegirl.com, is quite extensive. Readers can share their own stories through blogs, chatrooms, and forums. There, they will also find additional content not found in the print edition, including advice and articles on beauty, fashion, health, careers, and lifestyle.