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Was Sassy Magazine a cultural watershed for Generation X Women?

In the late 1980s, my father bought me the premiere issues of two magazines – Mirabella (1989) and Sassy (1988). While I never fully connected with either of them — Mirabella was too mature, Sassy too young — I would later develop an appreciation for how much of an early adopter my Depression-era dad really was.

Sassy Magazine

I haven’t thought about Sassy Magazine for a long time. (Publication ceased in 1996.) Then, yesterday, while doing some research I came across a blog post written about the magazine by Carlen Lea Lesser. Lesser is a 30-something Gen Xer and interactive marketing strategist with a Washington D.C. firm. A frequent guest speaker/blogger, you can follow her on Twitter; vote for her SXSW 2011 panel idea here and check her out on LinkedIn.

Lesser’s blog post builds upon a book that was published a few years ago, How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time. Here is an excerpt from Lesser’s post:

“I’m reading this now and am now intrigued that it may be a hidden cultural watershed for many Gen-X women…

“It wasn’t necessarily for extreme grunge or Riot Grrrls. It was

for girls like me from small suburban/rural towns who just didn’t quite fit in with the Seventeen Magazine crowd. I never wanted to be a Heather, I always associated myself with Veronica. It’s hard to imagine how different Sassy was than everything else on the market. Teen magazines then, and now, try to promote a “Heathers” lifestyle – be pretty, popular, and smart (but not too smart). If you are a Boomer, insert “Stepford” for “Heathers.” Sassy Magazine was Veronica. Smart, pretty, and kind of pissed off — but in a parentally approved, pre-homicidal kind of way. Just daring enough to piss off Jerry Falwell, but not get you grounded or incarcerated.

Sassy, which has a cult following on Facebook, was founded by an Australian feminist who based it on the teen magazine Dolly, which is still in publication in Australia.

 Did you read Sassy? What magazines made a difference for you, then and now?

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Jennifer K

    HeyRay, how could you leave out Marjorie Ingall? I loved her.

    Ahem, I was a bit older when Sassy came out but I subscribed right away. Seventeen sucked and I just couldn’t relate to Glamour or the now defunct Mademoiselle.

    Have you heard of Bust magazine? It’s like a Sassy for women. I’ve been reading it for over a decade.

  2. HeyRay

    DID I read Sassy? Are you kidding?! I still have volume 1 issue 1 safely preserved in my closet. Even at 16 I knew it was something revolutionary. I WISH I’d kept every issue but too many moves disallowed that.

    Sassy secured my dream of wanting to be a writer. I fully believed editor Jane Pratt and writers Christina Kelly, Karen Catchpole, and Jacinta really were my friends. They knew me and they knew what I was thinking. I read every single episode cover to cover and back again. It was outstanding writing for teen girls and they covered topics no other magazine would dare cover for that demographic…some edgy but most just SMART. Who knew teen girls wanted to read anything smart for pleasure? THEY KNEW.

    Year after year I tried to get on the staff of their reader-produced issues, submitting writing samples and design ideas. Never made it. That was a shattered dream. But I still love them and always will.


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