Wholesome teen is target of 'Justine'

Family Matters

April 04, 2004|By Susan Reimer

JUST IN TIME, there's Justine, a new teen magazine for girls who may look like sexy sophisticates, but are just teens.

Wholesome isn't hot. But that doesn't mean there isn't a place for a magazine like Justine, which will make its debut April 13.

"We think there is another way to look at teen life," said editor Jana Pettey from her office in Memphis -- a very un-New York place to publish a magazine.

"This magazine hits the middle of the road. We are aiming at the girls who really live out there."

The first issue has a regular girl, not a celebrity, on the cover and loads of fashion, beauty and style stuff inside.

The editorial content is written in what Pettey calls "sound bites." Just nuggets of information. Nothing that looks like tonight's homework assignment.

She calls her magazine "a safe place to relax." A girl can flip to any page without fear of being hit in the nose with Cosmo Girl sex questions or Teen Vogue wardrobe impossibilities.

"We want to be grounded," said Pettey, who calls her magazine "mother-approved."

"We've already done the censoring for them. They know they can just relax and enjoy it."

Pettey has her own personal teen-ager. Daughter Hillary is a junior in high school -- the target audience -- and was absolutely thrilled with the tidbit she found in the premiere issue about where to find new ringing sounds for her cell phone.

Not everything has to be edgy for this age group.

"Girls this age look like adults. They look like sophisticated women. They look like they are fully formed," said Pettey.

"But inside, they are not. They still need the nurturing and the comforting and the guidance.

"And they need a break from all the pressures that are around them."

Pettey, who was a teen model herself and appeared on a couple of Teen magazine covers in the 1970s, was working for At Home in Memphis, a regional interior design magazine, when her co-workers started talking about starting a magazine for just the kind of teens they all had at home.

"We felt like we could fill a niche in teen magazines, but we also wanted to give something back to our daughters and to other girls just like them.

"These are girls who are heading to college soon, who are just starting to have a vision for their lives, who are looking for other girls just like them."

Justine appears to be heavy on fashion, make-up and personal style. And there are features that deal with relationships and celebrities, too.

But the fashion is affordable and do-able. The decorating tips are next to the SAT tips. And the "boys on the brink" celebrity item doesn't include any of the current boys over the edge.

It is the usual mix for this kind of magazine, but there are no nasty surprises waiting for a girl to turn the page.

"My position as a parent," said Pettey, who also has a 12-year-old son at home, "is that I know all those things are out there. And I want my kids to be exposed enough to make smart decisions.

"They know there are books, magazines, Web sites out there, but I want them to have the self-esteem to know they don't belong there. I don't want them to stay away just because I tell them to."

She wants Justine to be a magazine that teens can read -- and mothers can buy -- without those kinds of worries.

"Our girls need a break from all that."

Justine will appear on newsstands April 13. On that date, the Web site, justinemagazine. com, will also launch.

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