Do Teen Celebs Belong in Women's Magazines?

Dakota Fanning graces the cover of a stylish publication not exactly aimed at teens. What's going on here?

If you subscribe to any women's magazines, you may have noticed that some of the celebrities gracing the covers lately aren't quite women. Sixteen-year-old Dakota Fanning is featured on the latest issue of Marie Claire; 17-year-old Miley Cyrus smiled from the cover of February's Harper's Bazaar; and barely-out-of-their-teens celebs Taylor Swift and Kristen Stewart are already veteran cover girls. While all of these stars look fabulous (and older than their years), we have to wonder: Is it a good idea to position high school-age girls as style icons for grown women?

It's easy to see why magazine editors would gravitate toward younger and younger celebrities. Many look amazing in chic designs, require minimal airbrushing, and are probably a lot more enthusiastic about interviews and photo shoots than jaded grown-up celebs. But what are readers getting out of the deal? When a women's magazine features a celebrity on the cover, it's generally someone that women can relate to -- or at the very least, someone whose closet we'd like to raid. But when the cover girl is actually a girl, the dynamic changes. Women generally don't want life lessons from Dakota Fanning, and we would look ridiculous in her wardrobe. Instead, we admire her poise, for her age -- how much more mature she is than we were at that age. Everyone loves a warm and fuzzy coming-of-age story, especially when so many child stars turn into cautionary tales (Exhibit A: Lindsay Lohan). So in that sense, having teen girls on magazine covers isn't the worst thing in the world. It reaffirms our faith in the next generation, showing us that the kids are really all right.

Still, there are ways in which this is a troubling trend. For one, it promotes a beauty standard that's unrealistic for grown-ups: we know our culture is obsessed with youth, but none of us will ever look 16 again. And the idea of a middle-aged woman trolling the Juniors department for a frock that Miley Cyrus would wear is unnerving. Then, of course, there's the question of how the cover girls themselves are affected. For the most part, it seems these cover shoots are fairly harmless games of dress-up. But when a teen celeb is styled to look much older, as in Fanning's cover for the Canadian magazine Flare, what's the point of that? Wearing a tiny dress and bright red lipstick, Fanning is transofrmed into a shockingly sexy starlet instead of the underage girl she is. We always complain about child stars growing up so fast that they don't have time to be kids; photos like that make us wonder if they even have time to be teenagers anymore.

Ultimately, we don't mind seeing a bright young woman on a magazine cover on occasion; but if magazine editors want to spotlight a celeb who looks to be in her 20's, to appeal to readers in their 20's, how about selecting a cover model in her 20's? And we hope they don't forget all the fabulous 40- and 50-something women who are still totally cover-worthy.

Do you take issue with teen celebs appearing in women's magazines? Chime in below!

Like This? Read These:
- Why Is Miley Cyrus on Image-Change Overdrive? 
- Does TV Create Unrealistic Dreams of Stardom for Kids? 
- Miley Cyrus' Latest Provocative Pose 
- Teen Stars Keep Taking Off Their Clothes

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