Close Reading #1: Essence
By just flipping through the pages, you can tell Essence is geared toward African-American women because every person in the magazine is of African-American descent.
The ads do not differ from other magazines. You’ll see common brands featured including Covergirl, Olay, Jergens, Johnson’s, Suave, Pantene, Swiffer, Crest, etc. The only difference is the ethnicity of people in the ads. For example, you’ll see celebrities such as Queen Latifah, Halle Berry and Beyoncé in makeup ads for Covergirl, Revlon and L’Oreal. This makes perfect sense because the magazine is catered to African-American women.
The editor-in-chief is Constance C.R. White. I don’t know much about her, but I will do my research. The magazine launched in1970 and the circulation is 1.6 million.
Famous African-American women such as Beyoncé, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Halle Berry and others are featured on the cover every month. Occasionally, men will appear on the cover, but it’s not common. The quality of paper is like most magazines–not the best.
Essence does publish a few letters to the editor. Other than that, it’s really the writers that appear throughout the magazine, which is typical with most magazines. It costs $3.99 and is typically around 160 pages.
The topics are also similar to most women’s magazines. Topics include hair and beauty tips, money advice, sex and health, but the writers and editors find a way to make the topics relatable to African-American women. Essentially, most magazines share similar topics, but they differ slightly depending on their target audience.
For example, a health feature in Essence will probably differ compared to many women’s magazines that are not catered to African-American women. Essence would more likely focus on heart disease, breast cancer and high blood pressure because studies have shown that African-American women are more prone to certain types of diseases and health conditions.
I could see myself writing for Essence because I can relate to a lot of the issues presented in this magazine. I know it won’t happen overnight. It’s going to require tons of hard work, but I believe I have the talent and drive to eventually work my way up to working for this publication or any other big publication for that matter.
I enjoy reading Essence, but there are a few topics I’d like to see more often including interracial dating among African-American/biracial women and Caucasian men. It seems as though society has grown somewhat accustomed to seeing Black male/White female couples, but I think people are still surprised when they see the opposite.
Overall, I think I could submit a few really good personal essays for Essence. I think I could brainstorm a lot of great topics for Essence that readers would enjoy reading about.
Close Reading #2: Girls’ Life
Girls’ Life is geared toward preteens and young teens. I remember reading this magazine religiously when I was in the fourth grade. Girls’ Life publishes bi-monthly and has made a few changes since it launched in 1994. Girls’ Life was rare due to the fact that celebrities were not featured on the cover, but they eventually changed because celebrities sell more magazines.
The topics, though, have remained the same over the years and are pretty typical of what you’d expect from a teen magazine. Features include quizzes, horoscopes, body Q&A, Dear Carol (where girls can ask for advice about anything from boys to more serious issues), special report (a longer feature that deals with heavier subjects such as racism, sexual abuse, etc.) and celebrity interviews, of course.
The editor-in-chief of Girls’ Life is Karen Bokram. I don’t know anything about her yet, but I’ll do some research. Girls’ Life is published in Baltimore, Maryland, the circulation is around 350,000, it costs $3.99 and it’s typically around 100 pages. The quality of paper is also not the best–it’s pretty thin.
Girls’ Life publishes around 15 letters to the editors. Readers can also send their most embarrassing stories. Girls’ Life really cares about what their readers have to say. There aren’t many sources besides Carol Weston, who is an author of a few books that are meant to guide young girls–she has a column titled “Dear Carol.” Also, when there is a special report that deals with health issues, there are a lot of quotes from doctors.
You can learn a lot about a publication just by looking at the ads. Since this is a magazine for young girls, you’ll see brands such as Skechers, Kohl’s, Acuvue, Maybelline, Clearasil and Lip Smackers. One thing I was surprised to see was such heavy book promotion. As much as I was surprised to see this, I was quite pleased. I think it’s important to promote reading especially among young people.
I think I could write for Girls’ Life. After browsing through the magazine, I feel more confident because I was interested in writing a personal essay and noticed there was an essay in their June/July issue. I have an idea of what my essay will focus on. I feel strongly about this essay because I feel as though a lot of young girls can relate to the topic, but I have to find out if Girls’ Life is interested, which is a process within itself.
Besides writing personal essays for Girls’ Life, I could also write how-to’s and do-it-yourself beauty recipes since I have some experience from my beauty column (I knew that would come in handy at some point).
As far as the essays go, I have a few valuable lessons to share with young girls. Although I’m only 20 (two months away from 21), I’ve been told that I’m pretty wise for my age. I think when young girls hear important life lessons from someone closer to their age, they’re less likely to tune out. I’m eager to share my experiences with the Girls’ Life audience.