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Social media is giving bad guidance to girls – and there’s still a reluctance to talk about women’s bodies or their pain

If there was anyone in need of clear information about the process of developing into a woman, it was my teenage self – raised by brothers and attending a faith-based school where discussions of sexual health were severely limited. Before social media the places where young people curious about their bodies and puberty could find information were few and far between. For people like me, teen magazines were the logical place to look for answers.

Magazines for teenagers existed long before the 1990s and 2000s, but there was a boom in titles during those two decades. Mizz was first published in 1985; Bliss followed 10 years later, and CosmoGirl arrived in 1999. Young people had more expendable income, and groups like the Spice Girls rose to prominence in an era that prized the idea of female empowerment. Young women had a plethora of titles we could purchase ourselves. Hidden behind covers displaying members of Blue and free samples of Impulse were headlines about periods, body hair and relationships, all promising honest information derived from real-life experience.

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