`B' is for beautiful

Out with ladettes, femininity is back in a new magazine for teenagers.

First there was the departure of editor James Brown from the lads' magazine Loaded, because he was getting too old to be a lad. Now a new magazine is trying to prove that his female counterpart, the ladette, is also passe, and it wants to herald a new era of femininity.

B, which probably stands for "bright" and "bubbly", is the new launch from Attic Futura, the currently hot Australian publisher that created Sugar, the wildly successful magazine for teenage girls, which shook up the world of sad-eyed puppy posters and problem pages.

Painfully cheery and upbeat, Sugar was an attempt to give teenagers the glossy fashion and beauty package that their big sisters were reading in Cosmopolitan or Marie Claire.

"We wanted to give them something that didn't go on about being a teenager all the time," says Jo Elvin, former editor of Sugar and launch editor of B.

Now Sugar has sales of 456,000 a month and almost outsells the two magazines it was trying to ape. Other teen magazine publishers have been forced to imitate it. A big part of Sugar's success was its handling of sex: it set out to be "honest and upfront", says Ms Elvin - so upfront and honest that it attracted the ire of Tory MP Peter Luff and got the Daily Mail frothing with moral outrage.

Sugar's runaway success threatened all the other teenage magazines, which also upped their sexual content, so that the industry ended up threatened with a private member's Bill that would have put age limits and warning symbols on magazines with saucy content. Now the industry is overseen by its own watchdog - the Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel - which censured Sugar last week for running an article headed "I slept with 40 boys in three months".

When Sugar launched, its first readers were around 14. They are now getting on and are too old for its mix of confidence-boosting emotional articles and tips on clothes and make-up. The sad-eyed puppies usually wear off at this age too.

Attic wants to move these 16 to 17-year-olds on to B, which will look after them until they get to about 22. Doubtless, after that, Attic will launch another older magazine. Attic's rival, Emap, is very keen on this "cradle-to-grave" publishing, which is why you can move from reading about pop music in Smash Hits in your teens to reading about rock music in Mojo in your late forties via an array of differently pitched magazines, all published by Emap.

Attic thinks Sugar's appeal is to a certain kind of mainstream girl and it wants B to keep on the same track - which is where the break with "ladette" culture comes in. The late-teens-to-early-twenties magazine market is territory where sex, sex and more sex sells. Emap's more! and Minx magazines take on almost every topic from a sexual angle: "If they were doing fashion, they would do it about T-shirts to pull boys in, that show off your tits," said one rival publisher.

more!, another quiet success selling 430,000 copies every fortnight, has a regular "position of the week" feature and once ran an article headed "Twenty Ways to Give A Hand Job".

The philosophy that informs these magazines is so-called "Girl Power" or the culture of the ladette. A ladette is best described as a young woman who is confident, assertive, drinks a lot and is as rude and crude as any lad. The Spice Girls and The Girlie Show both borrowed a view of women from the likes of more!

But Jo Elvin thinks the ladette is a nonsense media creation and hopes that B will herald its demise: "The ladette idea is very trendy, but I don't think for a moment that it is real. I really don't believe a lot of women actually align themselves with that kind of attitude."

Instead Elvin, 27, wants B to embrace a more balanced view of femininity: "I'm not a wet sissy who bats her eyelashes at men, but neither am I embarrassed about being feminine, about enjoying shopping. I'm just glad to be a woman."

She says B will concentrate more on love and relationships than sex. But in this market there is still no getting away from sex. B's first issue contains articles entitled "True Confessions: I Had a Threesome"; "I Sold My Sex Scandal", and a four-page look at female masturbation complete with vibrator review. Welcome to the new femininityn

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
people
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Sauce Recruitment: Programme Sales Executive - Independent Distributor

£25000 - £28000 per annum + circa 28K + 20% bonus opportunity: Sauce Recruitme...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Are you an ambitious, money mot...

Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A freelance Investment Writer / Stock Picker ...

Guru Careers: PPC Account Executive / Paid Search Executive

£20 - 24K + Benefits: Guru Careers: An enthusiastic PPC Account / Paid Search ...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us