Yes – that’s right; in the late ’80s, my sister and I wrote, edited, and published our very own teen fashion magazine – all before we ourselves had hit puberty. It was the only magazine stylish Barbie dolls and their friends read. In our house anyway.
Like any good magazine, it included advertisements, interviews with teen celebrities, a romance story, and makeovers. All in a 1 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ format to fit in Barbie’s hand.
Thanks to my sister, a few issues have survived, albeit with what looks like smoke damage (probably from a fire that started in the diner below our apartment one year).
As a writer and also someone who’s worked in the wonderful world of public relations, I’m particularly tickled by our inner cover/first page spread, featuring an advertisement for “Chemò” perfume (pronounced ‘sheh-MO’)… which on first glance looks like your typical glamorous perfume advertisement, complete with a woman wearing a fancy ballgown and dramatic cape set against the moonlit skyline. In script, the next page says “Every woman wants to be a Chemò woman… because Chemò is every man’s dream.”
This ad is actually a lot more clever than it looks. The name of the perfume is meant to be a combination of faux-French (because we know anything that sounds French is a good perfume name) and a play on the Italian word “scemo” (pronounced ‘SHEH-mo’)… which means… STUPID. So basically, even as preteens, my sister and I were hip to the whole advertising scene. Or we were calling our intended audience stupid. (Since our readers were made of plastic, I think that was a fair assessment.)
The rest of the magazine has a lot of those tongue-in-cheek imitations on what you’d typically find in a Teen or whatever, but I think that’s the best one. Though I will say the “Makeover” section seems pretty extreme even in today’s age of Botox and plastic surgery, but in our defense, we had a limited stock of Barbie photos to choose from.
For your amusement, I’ve photographed the entire magazine so you can see for yourself.
Flip through it here: