In February 1996, the journalists' weekly UK Press Gazette reported that girls' magazines had "soaring sales". Magazine covers featured in the report included the following "strap lines": "My magic powers can get me any boy", "make-up special: be a BABE this Valentine's Day", "sneaky ways to make him want you", "free 16-page booklet - Sex and You", "get the coolest outfit for just £30!" and "are they bitching about you? here's what to do" (Sugar); "the hot date issue", "the girl who stole Paul Nicholls' heart", "Boy-pulling fashion", "What that Valentine's card really means", "I was the school slut" and "sealed sex section - boys & you" (It's Bliss); "Real life - I'm addicted to boys", "Catwalk looks without splashing your cash", "Pssst! 101 boy secrets a girl's gotta know" and "Lump him or dump him? When to bin your boy" (Just Seventeen). It's Bliss editor Dawn Bébe described her title as "aspirational" (UK Press Gazette, 5/2/1996, p11).

Growing public concern about the content of these magazines was reflected when Peter Luff, the Conservative MP for Worcester, introduced The Periodical (Protection of Children) Bill under the 10-minute rule procedure. If this had become law, publishers would have been obliged to print the recommended minimum readership age on the magazines' cover or face a fine. Luff explained: "It's not just the sexually explicit stuff. These magazines are deeply sexist. They're all about sex and preparing yourself for boys. Nothing about the other things girls should be thinking about - careers or sporting heroes." (The Guardian, 6/2/1996, p2).

Suzanne Moore, also writing in the Guardian, defends the sexual content of the magazines, but points out that:

In my opinion, the problem is not the sexual content of the magazines, which provides much-needed information to young people. (A survey by the Children's Literature Research Centre at the Roehampton Institute found that more than three-quarters of girls and almost two-thirds of boys would rather learn about sex from magazines than from parents or teachers - the Guardian, 23/2/1996, p7). The problem is the lack of non-sexual content in the magazines, coupled with the lack of alternatives.

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