This afternoon, I heard the news that More! magazine is ceasing publication after reader numbers have dwindled to an all-time low, and I have to say, I was a little bit saddened. As a teen, More! was about as edgy as it got when it came to reading material and my friends and I spent many a bus journey giggling at ‘Position of the Fortnight’ or reading in horror about peoples embarrassing experiences, usually involving a boy they fancied.
My Mum hated me reading More!, she saw the candid accounts of teenage sexuality as over-exposure for my young mind and often told me that I wasn’t allowed to buy it. I did, of course, and hid it in my locker at school or buried at the bottom of a school bag. Now that I’m a mother, I straddle the fence on the appropriateness of it for a 13-year-old, however I also think that there’s a huge amount of positivity to it too.
More! was the closest thing that we ever had to a ‘lad’s mag’, meaning that instead of wide-eyed patronisation, or flat-out saccharine coated ignorance, it addressed the issue of teenage girls being sexual creatures. Regardless of how much we’d like to deny it once we become parents, teenage girls are hormone-fuelled randy beasts in the same way that their male counterparts are and More! taught us that that’s not something to be ashamed of. To my mind, it empowered girls to have a say in sex, not just think that they had to lay back and think of England, but be an active and conscious participant. The problem pages taught us about thrush and STDs and contraception and hair in unwanted places and didn’t make us feel stupid for asking.
Magazines like More! are often held up as contributing towards the over-sexualisation of children, but I refute that and would argue that giving girls an honest education (over and above the sterile account they are fed in Sex-Ed classes) about the realities of sex is contributing to giving them confidence and agency over their own bodies. Perhaps giving them the confidence to say NO when it really matters, or to speak up when something that’s supposed to be fun and pleasurable is actually uncomfortable and upsetting. What More! did best was instill a sense of humour and light-heartedness into subjects which can be tricky for young girls to navigate, which was invaluable to us at the time.
So, it’s with sadness that I say a fond farewell to More! magazine. I can only hope that there’s something out there to help girls and young women in the same way that More! helped us.