ONCE THE STYLE bible for demure teenage girls, Sisters magazine has recently undergone a complete make-over. Bigger, glossier and more bold, its transformation is a reflection of today's changing tastes and values. The magazine is not alone in trying to appeal to a trendier audience. It is among the growing number of publications targeting today's teenagers, including the latest newcomers to the market, CosmoGIRL! and Milk. Yes! Magazine and East Touch are the most popular local publications among readers aged nine to 19, according to a survey by AC Nielsen Media last year. Over 64,000 and 43,000 youngsters read Yes! and East Touch - 89 and 36 per cent of respondents - respectively. Launched about four months ago, Milk magazine has gained popularity among fashion-conscious readers in their 20s. It is the eye-catching covers that make fifth former Au Yat-hang, 15, buy East Touch, she says. Bikini-clad or skimpily dressed girls often appear on the cover. Yat-hang says the weekly keeps her informed about trends, entertainment, games, psychological tests and interviews with stars. 'Must-have-items', such as mobile phones, designer trainers and pop memorabilia, are regularly featured in East Touch, Easy Finder and Monday, she says. The $10 to $15 magazines often feature goods costing several thousand dollars. If the magazines reflect youngster's spending power, teenagers today are either very well-off or lavish. Magazines such as Yes!, Teens and e-plus, apart from featuring numerous pages of stars' pictures, also have articles and comics about love and sexual matters. Letters from teenagers talking explicitly about their sexual experiences are being given increasingly more space in these magazines and others such as Fashion And Beauty and Sisters. But are girls today really interested in such topics? Sisters deputy chief editor Joan Chow Shau-mui says absolutely yes! She says the magazine targets older teenage girls and young working women. 'The sections on sex are not salacious at all. We believe in providing positive ideas and information about sex. Sex is natural and an essential part of life. Modern women should enjoy it.' She stresses that the magazine tries to promote loyalty and safety, but has never advocated teenage sex. Providing knowledge about sex would help resolve girls' worries and satisfy their curiosity, she says. CosmoGIRL!, the new monthly magazine targeted at girls aged 14 to early 20s, like Sisters, contains features on fashion, beauty, lifestyle as well as a section on self-improvement. Readers can learn how to handle emotions and problems related to family, friendship and school. Joven Mak Kit-ying, chief editor of CosmoGIRL! , thinks the section is an important part of the magazine and distinguishes it from other local publications for teenagers. 'Most local teen magazines tell youngsters about the trendiest products to buy and only focus on having fun. There is, however, nothing encouraging youngsters to understand themselves,' she says. Eric Ma Kit-wai, associate professor of the Department of Journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, believes it is normal for the media to offer youngsters information on love affairs and sexual matters. 'It's always embarrassing for parents and teachers to talk about sex with youngsters in Chinese society, yet we all know that adolescents are curious and concerned about the issue,' Professor Ma says. However, he criticises publications that highlight sensational cases or exaggerated stories and says they may mislead young readers to form distorted ideas about love and sex. Professor Ma says young readers easily absorb what they learn from magazines and try to apply it to daily life. What they read may also give them unrealistic expectations of themselves.