Magazine Madness and/or Mania: Seventeen, June 1988

Any guesses on who the cover girl is? Scroll to the bottom to find out!


Even for Seventeen, this issue has an incredibly high ratio of advertising to editorial content. In the latter category, we have a helpful suggestion from the mailbag:

Yes, cats and dogs do make good pets. But they could never compare to a bird. Have you ever heard a cat say hello to your dinner guests? No. Have you ever had a dog sing to you while perched on your shoulder while you’re doing the dishes? No. That’s why birds are the best pets!

Also this dark rumination on the end of high school:

I looked about for mom, but only a crumpled McDonald’s hamburger wrapper and a shriveled remnant of a plastic lei met my eyes. “Class of ’88” was scrawled in permanent green marker on the wall, and I scowled in disgust upon seeing such an ugly postscript to our final year…

I could see the lights within and hear the faint noise of rock music and amiable chatter, but the door handle only rattled at my grasp. I tugged it twice and then pulled with all my strength till I realized: the doors had locked behind me.


The rest of the “content” consists of an interview with Charlie Schlatter, still 2 years away from starring in the TV series version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; and a handful of movie reviews ranging in suitability for a teen rag from “understandable” (Michael J. Fox in Bright Lights, Big City) to baffling (The Milagro Beanfield War) to baffling for anyone (Philip Glass’s Powaqqatsi) (also I have to include this link here now).

There is also a fashion spread entitled “Oh, Provence”, which is distracting because the model appears to be wearing a cummerbund with her crop-top:


(Click all to enlarge)

And of course, a poll involving most teenagers’ entrée into fighting against tyranny, school dress codes:


Let’s look at some Ads! 

First up is the ever-popular Sun-in, which will ruin your hair blonde at a slightly slower pace than a combo of Clorox and Clearasil:


While you;re at it, you can also ruin all of your family’s clothes by using Rit in the washing machine:


If you are not responsible enough to brush your teeth, you are clearly not responsible enough to dye your eyes to match the Aryan ideal:

soft colors

1988: if it involves hair, make Crystal Gayle shill for it…


Some of the food-related ads seem to have migrated over from Woman’s Day or Good Housekeeping: 


Late-80s was the peak time for off-Swatch brands of extremely loud timepieces:


These seem practical….


There is even some advertorial content, since clearly Seventeen was taking kick-backs from the manufacturer of giant inflatable lobsters:


But my favorite advertisement has to go to Tanana, which of course is sun tan oil that comes in a plastic banana. Although I am not sure who this ad is targeting, since that dude is waaaaaaay more interested in his, uh, Tanana, than he is in his date…


To this day, Seveneteen includes a ton of tiny, black-and-white classifieds in the back pages, for boarding and vocational schools (shades of Curtis Sittenfeld)


and Fat Camps:


The Best Thing About This Issue: Mimi Pond’s  nameless comic strip starring Monica the Val and Erika the Punk,  this one predating the introduction of Tiny Goth Anthea:


Who’s That Girl?  It is a barely-pubescent Milla Jovovich:


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2 Responses to Magazine Madness and/or Mania: Seventeen, June 1988

  1. Susan says:

    This is great! I didn’t read Seventeen but every month for about five years I walked to the drugstore on whatever day of the month Teen Magazine came out, and bought it with my babysitting money. I stopped when I went to college in the fall of 77 so they had a different bunch of ads in that decade but similar themes — Lemon-Up shampoo instead of Sun-In, Ten-O-Six lotion, lots of ecology-nature-themed cosmetics and toiletries. (I bought a few copies on ebay several years ago for the nostalgia fun.) I recall that these magazines seemed to assume that all teenagers spent most of their summer time at the beach, or at least at the pool. We weren’t dying our clothes as much as sewing them, since girls still took home-ec classes (and yes, they were still called that). And yes, the black-and-white ads in the back!

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