Studying Sassy: Jan 91

Sassy Jan. 91 R.I.P. Tom Carvel, 1906-1990 No. 34

To the best of my knowledge, this was the first issue of Sassy I ever received. I think I had subscribed through one of those school-sponsored magazine drives at my brother’s middle school. I was in 4th grade, and clearly torn between being a girly girl bow head and a tomboy. Hopefully this new magazine can offer some guidance....

On the cover is a 14 year old girl, the winner of the Sassiest Girl In America contest. She played on a boy’s hockey team in Massachusetts and didn’t like to wear shoes. What wild concepts those were to me, as this girl clearly DGAF and was winning. The other contestants, featured in two double-page-spreads, were charitable, intelligent, and small business owners. And teenagers! The prized included Clairol hair products and Reebok shoes, and money for the charity of choice, obviously.

Fashion trends reported were denim jackets, including those with patterns and embellishment, and pastel colors from head to toe (and wearing wigs, apparently). There is also an editorial spread about catalog shopping, which was as simple as picking up a phone (!) to place an order. Four pages are dedicated to a lengthy entertainment poll, where New Kids on the Block are alternately loathed and adored, and Johnny Depp is voted to be practically over. The DIY craft is making an Alice band (which is just a wide, stretchy headband that is recommended for helping to hold your wig on…. Not kidding.). I’m gonna get right on that, pictures to follow.

I’m amazed, in retrospect, at what a spectrum of diversity is shown in this magazine. Most of the models in the fashion images are not white, and there is a lengthy article about Asian-bashing (where Donald Trump is quoted….. I guess some things never change). There are also two separate features where boys are given a chance to express their insecurities or questions. The thought of boys reading this progressive, feminist magazine is delightful to me, whether or not that was actually happening at the time.

There is also a strong focus on mental health in this issue…. January is traditionally a tough month for me, and I imagine for others as well. There is an article devoted to Sassy staffers sharing their stories about depression, and how they came through to the other side. The quiz is designed to measure one’s self esteem (I scored on the low end of the middle category today, in case you wondered). The reader contribution, It Happened To Me, was about a young woman losing her beloved pen pal in a drunk driving accident. Combined with all the facts and Q&A about bodies and health, the overall vibe is that these emotions are entirely normal, and it is helpful to think beyond one’s own self. After all, there is plenty to be done elsewhere in the world to improve the lives of others.

Oh! And Scott Weiland makes a small sneaky appearance in a blurb about fashion in L.A., promoting his band Mighty Joe Young. Something tells me that 1991 is going to be quite a year.

P.S. Let's not forget about the Columbia House record and tape racket.... Harder to quit than the gym. Gotta love it.


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