Snogging, celeb crushes and problem pages – the lost love of teenage magazines

April 23, 2013

Just 17 magazineA snapshot of me, aged 14 and a half (as dutifully recorded in my Just 17 yearbook):

  • What I like: dying my hair, boys with six packs
  • What I don’t like: nuclear testing, nuclear bombs, exams
  • Distinguishing features: lots of earrings!
  • Favourite film star: Keanu Reeves, fit!!!!*

I was sad to read yesterday that More! magazine is to close after 25 years. I was never a regular reader, put off by the in-your-face blatancy of the position of the fortnight (although I’d always read someone else’s copy, of course). But as well as the loss of a magazine that lots of girls still love and reflection of the print media landscape as a whole, I was sad because teenage magazines like More! played a huge part in my adolescence. And is this something young people of Eliza’s era will now never know?

I loved magazines when I was younger. Loved them. And there were loads: Sugar, Mizz, More!, Minx, Bliss, 19, and my all-time first love and favourite, Just-17. I loved the glamour and gossip, the clothes, celebrities, problem pages and features. They made me want to move to London and shop in the legendary giant Topshop, and inspired me to want a career in journalism (a plan quickly shelved post-degree when I needed to pay my own rent). They introduced a whole new world that was miles away from Shropshire, orchestra practise and homework.

As well as playing such a big part in my formative years, I do think teenage magazines really had and have a huge role to play in terms of knowledge and information. They fill the wide gap between *the chat* with your mum, and real, adult life – with Judy Blume’s classic Forever thrown in along the way of course (I smirk whenever I see ‘Ralph’ included on baby name lists). In our pre-internet times, it was where you found out about everything when you didn’t have an older sister.

There were always accusations of them being too racy and shockingly sexual, and they probably were to an adult onlooker, But thinking back to the ones I read, although there was a lot of boy-crazy talk of crushes and snogging, they were very responsible – the message was always, be your own person, never be pressured into anything at all.

Of course there are now blogs, websites, e-books and digital magazines. But you don’t get the anticipation of waiting for them to be delivered by the paper boy each week, riffling through them, hunched over in a way so your mum couldn’t see, and ripping the posters out to blu-tack on your wall, do you? And you don’t get to carry them around in your school rucksack like a badge of honour, or keep them in a pile in your room that no-one was allowed to touch, especially NOT younger brothers (“Muuuuuum, he’s in here AGAIN!”).

Who knows what the media landscape will look like when Eliza becomes a teenager? But like old-school technology, it’s sad to think there’s a whole part of my life that she – and her friends – may never get to find out about.

* All words and punctuation my own, sadly.

9 Comments

  • Katia

    May 6, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    You brought back memories.. Thinking about what you said (in which I fully recognized myself) 🙂 and remembering when I anxiously was waiting for the magazine to come out I was spending hours absorbing every single word or image of it AND let’s admit it.. I was daydreaming all the way! In fact, I never really had the courage to throw them away. They are all packed in big carton boxes at my parents’ place and when I happen to look at them from time to time now they make me smile thinking about how I felt at the time when I was reading them.. The good old days as they say! 🙂

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  • Amber

    December 31, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Oh, this post made me grin from ear to ear. I LOVED teen mags, eagerly devouring all of the beauty tips and choosing my ‘celeb crushes’ based on their recommendations. Oh! And the penpals, I had a constant stream of penpals sourced from those magazines and merrily invented funny anecdotes to pepper my letters (which were always written using scented or sparkly gel pens!).

    Are they really on their way out?! That makes me sad.

    1. gillian

      January 3, 2015 at 12:53 am

      It’s so sad, isn’t it? They were such a huge part of my childhood / teenage years. I used to wait by the front door for Just 17 to arrive on Wednesdays x

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