Let’s Read Teen, September 1970!

Teen Magazine, the most difficult of magazines to Google for relevant research about a specific teen magazine, ran from 1954 to 2009. Yes, it actually ran until 2009, even though I, a voracious consumer of teen magazines from the early 90s to the early 2000s, had no idea it even existed. It seems to have coasted along in a comfortable, reliable, generic teenage-girl appealing magazine space for about 40 uncontroversial years, going from the sparse details on its Wikipedia page. Apparently they made a music compilation CD in 2000 that featured Hanson, so that’s cool right?

I love how everything in the 60s was about making up a “set” and then telling teenagers how to join them. Also I really hope that Sherry Miles has a huge framed print of this cover in her bathroom right now.

“What? I always sit on a pillow a the beach.”

I’d love to know what the real deal was with Nancy and her depilatory-induced sitcom-worthy baldness story, since depilatory stuff like Nair STINKS to high heaven and would never actually just erase a whole head of hair like that in one go. That’s giving Nair way more credit than it deserves. My guess would be more the result of a really, really intense trip.

And if those kids want a revolution so bad, they can go to Russia!

She still had her full mouth and good cheekbones. Her dark hair was still long and bore an elegant streak of silver. She was dressed elegantly, but comfortably. And she wasn’t with Jimmy the star quarterback, like she thought her future self would be. She was holding hands with a woman, a stocky woman with a crew-cut haircut and a plaid button-down shirt. They were walking a large dog and holding paper cups of coffee. And they looked so happy together, so natural and normal. As Judy came to comprehend the vision of her future, her nerves settled and a wave of peace came over her. Yes. This was the life she was going to live. This was the true Judy Owens that had lived inside her for so long, liberated at last from the prison of societal heteronormativity. As the glimpse of her future and the woman she was going to be faded away into mist, she watched the woman in the plaid shirt whisper in her ear, “Happy birthday, Angel Face.”

I love the unintentional printer’s error that put a black splotch in the dead center of that guy on the top left’s nose. Sorry, dude. Also note that this is the only ad or article that includes people of color (aside from one illustration) in this whole magazine.

Anyone who would tell a menstruating teenager with cramps that they need to go to the student car wash because “fund-raising is FUN-raising” deserves to be torn limb from limb.

Yep, that sure is something that doesn’t at all in any way resemble enchiladas!

Meet a Teen reader from Toronto, the wild untamed frozen lands of the Canadian north! She has brown hair and likes to go bowling! Easy now, don’t scare her!

The spaghetti hair school of 70s advertising illustration strikes again! I believe that’s Cheryl Tiegs on the packaging.

I actually found a commercial for this thing:

You know you’re in for a good time when that flute kicks in.

Hello Cheryl Tiegs! Enjoying your time as the face of a tape dispenser?

Remember that little blonde girl in grade school that all the boys liked so much, and you hated her because her hair was always so blonde and she had so much confidence? Well, we tracked her down and now she’s living in an unheated roach-infested apartment with three small children and a husband that she only sees twice a week because he’s always at the race track, but she still has those swingin’ blonde braids and she’s getting through everything the best she can and working three jobs and putting herself through school at night in order to make a better life for herself and her children, and she’s going to get out of that dump and do it all with the power of positivity and self-love. And you’ll still be a sad, bitter girl with a lonely life and a box of Clairol’s Born Blonde hair lightener.

This is a fun read. I don’t know if this is the same Earl Leaf who was established as a famous beatnik photographer, but from what I found he did write for Teen in the late 50s, so possibly the same guy who was getting by spectacularly well with the hipster crowd (for being 65 years old in the era of the Youthquake).

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about over Flames (actually known as The Flame), and this was probably the single they were performing around the time this was written:

Not bad. Kinda got a Let It Be vibe, unsurprisingly. Not what I’d call eardrum-exploding musical dynamite like our friend Earl is going on about, but groovy enough for government work.

I just love this style of illustration so much.

Carol Visceglia of West Orange N.J. demands a higher standard of teen girl magazine music journalism! I wonder what she thought of McCartney II.

It took me every ounce of willpower to not just set this magazine on fire after I read this.

Feeling pressured about dating your cousin-in-law, even if he was really nice to you on a Halloween hayride? Jack’s got the answers, and probably not at all the answers that you want!

Jill, meanwhile, gives pretty lousy advice about grieving and is very direct about the consequences of making out with boys.

This girl is cool and I want to hang out with her. She is some Sally Draper 1970 realness. Or maybe I just really want a Peter Max designed notebook.

How many pants does a girl bleed through
Before you can call her a girl
Yes’n how many tampons does one girl need
Before they invent Tampax Pearl
Yes’n how many times must we PMS-cry
Before the cramps make us hurl?
The answer my friend
It goes in the trash bin
The answer is going in the bin

That’s Susan Dey, right? Or did every teen model from 1970 just look exactly like her?

I genuinely thought that dry shampoo was something they invented in the last decade or so. Whoops.

Oh fear not, you can still join the Army and be subjected to all of the sexism and double standards and societal bullshit that civilian women go through!

Sherry Miles now goes by Sherry DeBoer and is an animal rights activist! That’s pretty nice. The article on her is long and boring and straight-up admits that “she hasn’t made it yet”, which is kind of bracingly honest for a magazine that is also really into telling me what kind of shampoo she uses and her favorite brand of pressed powder makeup.

obvious Midsommar joke goes here

“Uh, we mean, just to clarify, the SUITCASE takes a beating. Yeah, that’s what our company and a whole room of ad men were talking about when they came up with this. Wait, how did YOU read it? What? Well, that’s YOUR problem, isn’t it? All we’re saying is that it STAYS beautiful, no matter how much you kick her around — AW, GODDAMMIT.”

And your heart belongs to Jesus!

These are AWESOME and there’s a whole fashion photoshoot coming up later in the magazine that is themed around them.

I bet the “I Go For Breck Girls” sweatshirt was a big hit in the 70s lesbian crowd.

As Cindy looked at the shiny foil seal of the One A Day multivitamin bottle, she caught a glimpse of herself as the woman she would one day become. A confident, strong, loving woman who took her vitamins every day, stood up for what was right, believed in herself, and believed in her partner. In her vision of a loving, committed relationship, she saw an elegant woman with a beautiful full mouth and the long walks that they would take together with their large dog. She instinctively knew that the woman’s name would be Judy Owens. But she would call her Angel Face.

Tired of tired cultural appropriation to cover up your pimples? Bag Over Your Head, by Avon!

Ok let’s get real here, Henry is like 40. Is Henry her math teacher? Do we need to be concerned that there’s a student making him pants to wear? Is Marsha his wife, who teaches Social Studies?

I desperately want to make fun of all of this, but the bottom left corner snood look was literally my wedding day hairstyle. My snood was prettier than that and it went with the dress, I swear. However, I need to talk to someone about the “Wild Indian” and “Serf” wigs. The “Wild Indian” one is bad enough, but maybe don’t name your wig something that invokes the name of a dirt-farming medieval peasant?


Hey, did you know that when Mary Queen of Scots was executed, the executioner picked up her head by the wig, and her decapitated head dropped on the ground? That was some groovy outta sight wiggy wonderland! DON’T KILL ME.

Approved by the Secret Scandinavian Blonde Cabal that apparently controls all advertising in this magazine!

I refuse to believe that “clad” actually became a noun. Stop trying to make “clad” happen, Teen, it never happened. And what the hell is a neckshift?

The Jesus fish necklace!!

Hi Sandi – Do you want to get some fries at the burger stand after school? We can talk about David Cassidy. Or if you don’t want to, that’s okay too, we can talk about anything you want. I really liked the knee socks that you wore today.

Dear Debbie, Joe is a real jerk. I don’t think anybody knew that you were wearing a wig until he lit up a doobie next to you and half of it melted. I think your real hair is terrif, anyhow. Are you still going to the homecoming dance with Joe? I’m dateless as ever. If you’re still mad at him, maybe we can ditch homecoming altogether and go see a movie on Saturday, just us girls. 

Dear Sally, I think that you and me go together like ketchup and mustard! Ha ha. Do you think Tony from biology likes my tights? I was thinking about him when I bought them, but now I don’t care at all about what he thinks. Boys are stupid. I like our matching turtleneck sweaters that we bought together the best. Do you want to go over to my house later, and we can study for the math test?

Going from this and last week’s articles about the future, we were all expected to be on way more drugs by now. And I mean the fun kind of drugs.

The return of Sherry from the cover story! She’s like a feisty little 70s Harley Quinn!

The platform-heel saddle shoes are kind of awesome.

This food actually appears to be edible and not horrifying, and we all know that if it isn’t enchiladas made with barbecue sauce and biscuit dough I am out of here.

“How was Barb’s party on Saturday?”
“Outta sight! We had Mrs. Washington’s Revenge and Moonshine For Minors!”
“Are those like, card games or something –”
“But it was really weird how she made four different versions of everything because the recipes kept telling her to use these multiple specific brands of every ingredient! And she was crying a lot and being all like ‘why can’t they just give me ONE kind of sauce to cook the chicken legs in already?'”
“Oh, that Barb.”

For when you want to dress like the sexiest hobbit in the Shire.

Check out our “cover girl” for a completely different magazine that isn’t this one! This lady went on to be a pretty steadily successful actress in the 80s and 90s, and now she plays someone named Anne on This Is Us. Yay!


And that’s it! I can’t thank you all enough for your support of this feature, which has been nothing but a joy to write regularly for the past two years. When I started doing this, I was a lonely archivist in a job that kept me very isolated, and the only way to keep my spirits up was to take photos of funny and mostly bizarre stuff from the old magazines that I was processing and send those pictures to my friends for a laugh. That eventually became this amazing dream of a writing project, which reached an equally amazing audience of friends on The Avocado. I’ve learned so much, I’ve had a ton of fun, and I’ve pushed myself hard. Which is why I’m going to end the regular schedule for this feature, before the looming burnout that’s beginning to gnaw at me takes over and writing this starts to become more like homework and less like a joyful weekly/biweekly escape. I owe it to you, to me, and to this feature to keep myself from taking this past its expiration date and presenting a minimum of obligatory research and content. The community and the legacy of these vintage magazines deserve better than what I can give when burned out and going through the motions. So I’m not closing the book on this forever – if something absolutely spectacular comes my way, you bet your boy howdy I’ll do a write-up on it – but I’m going to focus on other writing projects for the time being.

So THANK YOU to the people who have read this, who have commented, who have been so kind and encouraging and supportive and funny, who have done guest Old Magazine write-ups, who have literally mailed me vintage magazines from their own collections (I’m still stunned, genuinely stunned at the generosity of these friends). I love this community and I’m going to miss having a historical deep-dive with my friends every week. I’ve learned so much about history and society and culture through the lens of these old periodicals, and I hope you feel the same way. Thank you for being there with me and for helping to make this community the best place around.