Teen Magazines That Defined Our Youth

There used to be a time when you could go to Barnes & Noble, or even your local corner store, and browse magazine titles for hours. There were countless options in every genre imaginable: teen mags, high fashion, fitness, food and recipes, dating and sex, beauty, home, automobiles, wedding, parenting, gossip etc. It wasn’t uncommon to splurge and head home with a handful that had catchy covers.

Now that media has shifted greatly in the digital age, print magazines have rapidly been closing up shop. Some offer online versions for die-hard fans, but most have thrown their hands up and called it a day. There are, of course, still very big titles available. It doesn’t seem like Vogue, Glamour, or People magazine are going anywhere anytime soon. But gone are the days of having innumerable options from which to choose.

For many people, print magazines defined our youth. We had subscriptions and pulled pictures and posters out of them every month just to hang on our walls. We ogled the pop stars, movie stars, and boy bands that hung over our beds. We voraciously read about their lives and their favorite foods and their pets’ names. The magazines that delivered these precious tidbits, that ultimately made us feel closer to our star crushes, were priceless.

Here are some magazine titles that defined several generations when print was king.

6. Sassy

While short-lived (from 1988-1996), Sassy made its mark on a generation of girls who turned to magazines for entertainment. It featured, like every other teen mag, tons of content on celebrities, but it also pushed the limits and introduced articles on sexuality. It wasn’t uncommon for it to include a sex survey, or something similar. This detail alienated certain audiences, but it was a huge draw for others who were not yet mature enough for mags like Cosmopolitan.

5. Bop

Aimed at a slightly younger audience (around 10 years old and up), Bop kept it pretty simple. It had mini-interviews, tons of photos, and the Fly Free to Hollywood contest. Here readers had to guess which star they were looking at in pictures with different parts of their face blacked out. Could you identify Kirk Cameron just by his eyes? Or Corey Haim simply by his hair?

4. Teen Beat

In print for 40 years, Teen Beat delivered much of the same content as Tiger Beat. Over the few decades that it existed, it featured everyone from John Travolta to the New Kids on the Block to *NSYNC. If you wanted to know what kind of perfume Debbie Gibson loved, or what Corey Feldman liked to have for a snack, then you turned to Teen Beat.

3. Tiger Beat

This mag has been around forever (or at least since 1965). It is probably best known for featuring seemingly countless articles on the Monkees and Davy Jones, but it had plenty of gossip columns about other teen heartthrobs throughout the years as well.

2. Seventeen

Around since 1944 (and still technically in print today, with special stand-alone issues published from time to time), Seventeen has been a household name for several generations. Its focus has not just been on fashion, beauty and celebrity interviews. It has also attempted to promote self-confidence among its young female readers.

1. YM

Initially YM was Young Miss, then Young and Modern, and then Your Magazine. But anyone who was an avid reader simply referred to it as YM. Aside from delving into lengthy articles about the cover celeb, YM delivered the goods on fashion and beauty for its teen audience. But perhaps the best part of this magazine — the part that everyone talked about 00 was the “Say Anything” section. Here “anonymous” readers would write into the magazine to tell about their most embarrassing moments. It was clear that the blurbs had a little help from crafty editors, but there was bound to be a tampon-gone-wrong story in every issue.