Sassy is gone forever, but lucky you, there’s Teen Vogue
Women of a certain age are still lamenting the early demise of Sassy magazine. To those of you who are nodding your heads right now, I implore you: give Teen Vogue a chance, and while you’re at it, gift a subscription to a young woman in your life.
Yes, Sassy was pivotal…
Helmed by Jane Pratt, Sassy provided a marked departure from the other teen glossies that we ogled in grocery checkout lines. Remember the ’90s? Remember the red ribbons and the flannel and how we chained ourselves to trees and Rocked The Vote with the help of R.E.M’s longboxes? It was a big deal and Sassy got it. It got that we were more than teeny boppers into fashion and trendy music. It got that we were people, on our own, outside of being coupled with someone. And that was kind of revolutionary for a glossy teen fashion mag.
but Teen Vogue takes it to the next level, and then some.
While Sassy treated us like people, Teen Vogue is treating today’s young women like the thoughtful, powerful, political, engaged movers and shakers they are. There was something in Lauren Duca’s gaslighting article that struck a chord with a much larger readership. Was it the concise, clear way that it laid out an issue and made it relatable? Was it how it used a political issue to steer young readers toward an understanding of abusive relationships without specifically saying that’s what it was doing? Was it the tone, which was authoritative but still comfortable? Was it the historical background informed by linguistics, politics, and pop culture? Yes. It was all of that, and thinking that it only had to be one of those is the specific problem that Teen Vogue is addressing: young women are not to be underestimated. I’ve said before that, for all of their problems, glossy fashion mags are, for some, the bible of girlhood. This one respects girls enough to know that eyebrows and crunches are but one facet of the lived experience of young women, that they spend a lot of time thinking, talking, and acting on a wide range of political, social, and personal issues regardless of the color of their nail polish.
This didn’t just happen
It’s been widely pointed out that perhaps the incisiveness of Teen Vogue is due to being helmed by Elaine Welteroth as Editor in Chief, the first African American woman to hold that position and only the second to be Editor in Chief at a Condé Nast publication. While Beauty Editor, she pushed for more inclusive coverage, a move that has translated well to feature articles. The team approach to direction of the magazine also includes creative director Marie Souter and Phillip Picardi as the digital editorial director who recalls a realization that magazines can be used for social good when he read an Anna Wintour letter in Vogue about marriage equality. The magazine’s boundary pushing approach is by design and being actively managed by a team that gets it.
We want more of it – A GIVEAWAY!
We can praise the editorial direction and forward thinking, inclusive content that’s respectful of its teen readership all we want, but we all know that it’s the dollars that matter in publishing. For this reason, the writers of the Teen Librarian Toolbox are sponsoring ten more subscriptions to Teen Vogue. Get one for yourself, get one for your library, get one for a classroom, get one for a teen. The first ten commenters below can pick their recipient of a one year subscription. Must be US addresses. After you leave a comment, please email Karen at kjensenmls at yahoo dot com (we don’t want you to leave your address publicly).
The first 10 comments/emails get a free subscription. Thanks for the interest all — we have our 10 subscriptions all accounted for.
What Others are Saying
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About Heather Booth
Heather Booth has worked in libraries since 2001 and am the author of Serving Teens Through Reader’s Advisory (ALA Editions, 2007) and the editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Servcies along with Karen Jensen.
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