Let’s Read Seventeen Magazine, May 1992!

Very little of Seventeen appeals to actual seventeen year olds, who at this point in their lives are taking the SAT, applying to college, holding down part time jobs, learning to drive, and other things that are a lot more prescient than losing sleep over what’s really going on in the mind of the boy who sits next to you in math class. This magazine’s actual readership is made up of twelve and thirteen year old girls who aspire to a fantasy of who they’ll be when they reach that hallowed age of seventeen. On your seventeenth birthday, promises this magazine, you’ll wake up to be a freshly metamorphosed swan, popular and independent of your parents and somehow able to afford all the makeup and clothes and music that your heart desires, and you’ll get one magical year of freedom before you become a legal adult and have to get a job.

For a fun history of the magazine, which was founded in 1944, there’s a great slideshow and commentary on 70 years of covers here.

She could be wearing the most outrageous lipstick ever made and I would still be staring at this model’s forehead.

Mixing yellow daisies with white daisies is a bad look. I don’t know if I trust the fashion editorials in this magazine to be timeless.

This month’s cover model, Kristin Klosterman, went on to be a pretty badass artist and sculptor.


So you too can look like the most glamorous 45 year old in the 9th grade!

The activewear puzzles me here – poles and coat suggest skiing, spandex bodysuit suggest…Jazzercise? What is this strange forgotten 90s sport? Cursory research on this model tells me that she is now a Shamanic Priestess. Good for her!

While “the most radical advancement since the cartwheel” gets some points for actually being a coherent pun about things that go in circles, although I’m not sure that it was intentional, that “get a clue” seems to be unnecessarily confrontational. Sheesh, even the ads for cheerleader accessories are snotty.

The 1992 graphic design color palette was very Hot Dog on a Stick.

Remember when “It’s the 90s!” was this magical handwave catchphrase that was always hand whenever someone brought up an uncomfortable topic? I think America should have listened to more Ambers and less of Amber’s friends.

Girls who wear Jordache regularly get into physical fights with their sleazy boyfriends! Look how glamorously unhappy and potentially unsafe you could be!

Did you ever wonder who was scoring these so-called bargains? $60 in 1992 money is a little over $100 in 2018 money. I remember looking at this stuff and picturing my parents rupturing their spleens from laughing if I asked them for a shirt that cost almost $50 back then. Math time! The minimum wage in California from 1988-1996 was $4.25/hr, and say the average teenager works 15 hours a week, that comes out to gross $63 or minus 11% income tax = $56/week. So if you were out there busting your butt and making that money, I hope you bought yourself some rad kicks.

Because when choosing your outfit, you should take a step back and think, “How many people do I want to blind today?”.

I had a Barbie pink mini Caboodle that held my Barbie accessories since I was too young for makeup. My sister had a multi tiered indestructible monstrosity in purple glitter, much like the one in the ad, and in that Caboodle was a magical swamp-green lipstick that turned your lips bright flaming magenta and did NOT come off. So if, say, you were playing around in your sister’s makeup Caboodle and thought you could get away with trying out the green lipstick…you were BUSTED.

Is it hideous shorts or is it an incredibly unsexy name for them?

Fuschia terrycloth shortalls. HELLO 1992.

In an age of Instagram Kylie Jenner Drag Queen makeup, a summer makeup tutorial that lists a scant handful of products, tells you to skip foundation, and doesn’t mention the words “primer”, “contour”, “brows” or “highlight” is very strange.

Hey, remember Alpha Flight from that old comics fanzine? It can’t be accused of homophobia because it, too, is gay!

Would you believe that a “trendy earthquake-themed LA restaurant” actually survived the 1994 Northridge quake and only shut down a few years ago?

Marky Mark shows up a lot in this magazine. Apparently he is the harbinger of economic recession. Good to know.

I like that they slam Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for being over-merchandised, as if Ren and Stimpy really took the high ground by only selling limited run, high quality, fart scented scratch-and-sniff stickers.

As 1992 was an election year, there’s a lot up in the air about Bill Clinton and his philandering and whether or not it was something that even needed to be talked about. Boy, those were the days.

Aww look at little baby Jeremy Sisto!

I always hated these short fiction pieces written from a guy’s perspective. They always followed an editorial style so cookie-cutter that they all sounded like they were written by the same person, so it all sounded like one whiny asshole guy was dating a bunch of different girls and had a Jerry Seinfeld-esqe deal-breaking complaint about all of them. They were always on the subject of dating angst – Do I kiss her on the cheek or the lips? What are we going to do after graduation? I hate the way her hair smells like the pool because she spends more time at swim practice than she does with me! and I can think is…dude, WHAT ABOUT THE RAINFORESTS?!


personhole is an ambigenic term for manhole. I believe they are referring to the public works utility and not something else that I interpreted it to be the first ten times I read that statement.

Anansa Sims grew up to be a super hot plus size model!

The ubiquitous paint-splatter motif that defined a decade.

The glare from the page cuts it off, but I feel it’s imperative that you all know that the writers of Seventeen think that Marky Mark is both so cool AND that his nose shape is definitely cute.

Rocking the “tiny dress, gigantic boots” look.

I know that models in the 90s were always supposed to look at least a little uncomfortable, but that poor woman is doing some kind of future nod to Death Becomes Her.

THE cheap teenager perfume of the 90s. I can still hear the commercial in my head.



Seventeen sometimes published pieces that were basically dressed up walkthroughs of what to expect when doing something unfamiliar that you wouldn’t want to talk about with your parents, like getting a STD test or a pelvic exam. Again, like the “first date” guy this was all heavily edited to fit the magazine’s writing style and didn’t leave much in the way of actual interesting writing. But I hope that some teenagers out there found it helpful.

I’ve got some bad news from the future on the Emilio Estevez and Paula Abdul saga. And once again, Seventeen expresses concern for the future of Marky Mark’s career (up against the threat of Right Said Fred – yep). You think his cute nose is enough to save him? Or at least get his foot in the door of a bizarrely successful hamburger chain?

Aw it’s dreamy fresh faced Christian Bale! I appreciate that 18 year old Christian Bale appears to not have changed one molecule in interviews between then and now. Unsurprisingly, it sounds like he hated every second of making Newsies.

Benetton gonna Benetton, for good or for bad.

GERARDO! And adorkable Geena Davis!

Plenty of things to see and listen to and feel bad and detached about because SOCIETY, MAN.

Oh, Stevie D. Your career ended somewhere between Blade and a career-nadir Britney Spears music video. But you had a few good years.

Some extremely uncomfortable looking beach babes, brought to you by Coppertone!

I’m a little surprised that the prom stuff takes up so relatively little space in this issue. I didn’t read Seventeen regularly until around 1997 or so, and I remember the prom issue being an overblown double-sized marketing extravaganza. They seem to be downplaying it a lot because it probably wasn’t cool to be excited about the prom in 1992. Yeah you could buy a dress and take a limo, but WHAT ABOUT THE WHALES?

I still covet that floral babydoll dress on the bottom right. The daisy craze wouldn’t quite be in full omniprescent madness until about 1993, as 1992 looks like the transition year between polka dots and daisies, and then it would be sunflowers in 1995, and then I guess we were just done with flowers by 1997. It’s a real shame the “fake plastic grapes on your bra” craze didn’t take off, as daring as it was.

“Remember the 90s when you could grow up to want to be a clown? People went to clown school!”

“I gave up clowning years ago!”

Are you SO OVER school? You could drop out and be a model! Or a…bookkeeper!

Hi, I’m creepy mofo John Casablancas, father of musical douchewad Julian Casablancas! I remember there being a huge scare about these modeling classifieds being fronts for sex trafficking rings. I wonder how true that was.

Yes, because among the ads for fat camps is an ad for a Consumer Information catalog that surely appeals to the insecure teenage girl in all of us.

She dated Trevor. They married right out of high school and now they have six children. Trevor does sales at a farm equipment dealership and she is a French teacher at a community college. She regrets following Seventeen’s advice every day of her life.

You too can win a beauty pageant and have the opportunity to be judged and handled by these gross old men! A rich football star may even motorboat you in a publicity picture!

Sun-In is only used by lame people whose moms won’t let them actually bleach their hair. I grew up in a surf town, and we did not suffer Sun-In fools gladly. You either went to the beach every day and earned those natural sun highlights through sheer repeated abuse, or you went to town with the peroxide because your mom was cool and let you.

The Extremely Verbose Cartoon Adventures of Generation X Girl and Her Friend Monica! I like the diversity of body types. In high school I was a Monica, and all of my friends were Antheas. Some idiot boy thought that I was my best friend’s mother. Help me, Seventeen! The kids at school think I’m my best friend’s mother!

“I resent the implication that I’m smelly” — the football player, judging the woman wearing opaque shimmer pantyhose with open-toed sandals.

Thanks for reading another week with me and sticking it through last week’s break! Next week we will visit exotic destinations and revel at pictures of cartoonishly evil rich people with Holiday magazine from October 1954!