6 women on how Teen Vogue shaped their adolescence

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Condé Nast announced Thursday that Teen Vogue, the magazine, is no more. Along with shuttering the print edition of the magazine, it’s slashing about 80 jobs and pinning the publication’s seemingly bright future on its digital site.

Teen Vogue has certainly evolved in the digital age, tackling politics, cultural appropriation, and social justice issues when other teen publications fell short. Earlier this year, it launched a newsletter called #wokeletter, for “not-so-average news from a not-so-average source.” Phillip Picardi, Teen Vogue‘s digital editor, also recently launched Them, an LGBTQ brand through Condé.

I’m excited for Teen Vogue‘s dedicated focus on teens who live in a digital world. I’m proud of the brand and its mission to be inclusive. But I’m still mourning the loss of the print magazine that watched me, and so many other millennials, grow up.

I remember how Teen Vogue looked like every other fashion magazine: Young, hot celebrities graced every cover, pulling off wild combinations of dark knits, plaids, and bright metallics somehow all at once. I remember lusting after $2,500 shoes and thinking, “How could any teen actually afford this?”

Fashion magazines are far from perfect. But for most of us, it wasn’t about actually being able to buy the products in fashion magazines. Growing up in suburban Texas, I didn’t learn much about fashion, culture, politics, or sexual health in school. I learned about it in the pages of Teen Vogue.

In seventh grade, I dyed uneven chunks of my hair hot pink after seeing a Teen Vogue spread about neon Paramore-inspired hair. I wore cotton printed shorts that I sewed myself on top of skinny blue jeans because the models in a pop-punk editorial looked so confident doing the same thing. I saved all the old editions and cut out the pages I liked, covering my bedroom walls with collages of the things I liked most. When you’re a teenager, so often it feels like your insecurities rule every part of who you are. Flipping through Teen Vogue, I learned how to feel secure in my choices when everyone told me that standing out was a weird curse.

What I think I’m mourning is the same thing anyone mourns as they step into their mid-20s—the inexplicable attachment to the nostalgia that made us who we are today. For me, that’s Neopets, Totino’s pizza rolls, and print magazines. Here’s what several former Teen Vogue teens have to say about the magazine that shaped their adolescence.


Screengrab via Betsey Kirmis/YouTube



“I read Teen Vogue even before I was a teen. It’s why I became interested in fashion. I used to look at Teen Vogue and plan my outfits for the week based off the spreads.” —Nora, 22

“I actually brought some of my old copies when I moved to L.A., I think. I brought them because it’s almost nostalgic. Like there was a time when I was attempting to learn fashion and there were articles that just resonated with me—like skincare products that matter, or how to be confident, or what natural beauty is. I thought it was very body positive and they always had good role models on the covers. Like, I for sure kept an Anne Hathaway one and an Emma Watson (Harry Potter-era) one as well.”—Lauren, 23

“My favorite thing about Teen Vogue was that on the very back page of the magazine there was this series they did which were snippets from really rich girls’ lives, usually children of celebs or designers. There was a picture of them in their room, and the rooms were always so cute. They always had something I thought was important about fashion. I just wanted to be those girls so badly—it was like real-life Gossip Girl. While that can be negative, it honestly motivated me so hardcore to be cool and fashionable even though I was poor. Obviously, it could have been more inclusive and woke like it’s currently transitioning to be. But magazines to me have always been a reflection of what we want and what we hope for, like an activation of dreams. Obviously, I knew I wasn’t getting a Prada bag at 13, but that’s not why I read it. I read it because it showed me that people honestly could have careers being creative. As a poor girl, nobody was telling me it was possible to live a life like that.”—Sarah, 22

Teen Vogue was the only teen mag my mom let me subscribe to, probably because it seemed the most ‘tame.’ I remember thinking this was something Cool Girls must read, and so I would thumb through it and look at the clothes I couldn’t afford, but mostly made a real point of carrying it around in public in a way I knew people could see it. Like more than actually reading Teen Vogue, I wanted to be the sort of girl who reads Teen Vogue. Something I will never forget is, while checking into a fancy hotel my dad’s work was putting us up in, I had the Teen Vogue sticking out of my tote bag just so, and doing my best ‘I’m bored’ look, and a hotel employee came up to me and said, ‘You got your teddy bear with you, huh?’ I was MORTIFIED and realized that my bear was sticking out my tote bag just behind the Teen Vogue. My credibility was shot and I think I honestly stopped subscribing to it shortly after.”—Hannah, 24

 



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