`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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Media Account Writers

£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publishing) - Wimbledon - £26-30K

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publish...

Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent