Magazine Madness and/or Mania: Ideas For Hideous Entertaining from Seventeen, May 1978

Ah, the late 1970s. So many Earth Tones, so many ads for tanning oil. What did it mean to be a teenager 42 years ago? Well, I am actually rather unclear, because a lot of the content in this issue is identical to what you might see in any women’s magazines of the era. It’s like Hearst was building a Seventeen to Good Housekeeping pipeline. I mean, I had pretty much wrapped up my interest  in Seventeen by the time I started my freshman year of high school, but both the editorial and advertising content in this issue seems to be aiming for an older demographic.

The overarching theme for this issue is “Summer Jobs” but the #careergoals seem to set their sights pretty high for high school students. Nobody is scooping Baskin Robbins or Camp-Counseling in these pages. In fact the “Dress For Success” article features ensembles that are right out of 9 to 5.

The ads are similarly geared for a more generic audience: one for Toni home perms includes the full line of products from “Tonette children’s home wave” to Silver Curl for grandmas. Or I guess particularly groovy grandpas.

There are also lots of ads for engagement rings, hope chests and china patterns alongside those touting the miracle of beltless sanitary napkins.

Another surprise? The fashion advertisements are refreshingly lacking in airbrushing, especially the ones for regular-Jane retailers such as JC Penney, whose swimsuit models have both cellulite and body hair!

But today I want to focus on the culinary malaise.

America’s Junior Miss is the Jaycee-sponsored pageant that has existed in various forms since the 1920s (and was memorably lampooned in the 1975 film Smile) and now operates under the name Distinguished Young Women. Alumnae include such distinguished names as Diane Sawyer, Kathie Lee Gifford, and Debra Messing. But I am pretty sure this was the height that 1977’s national winner reached, shilling Kraft Dinner and marshmallow salads:

(click on all to enlarge)

Speaking of foods that don’t go together, how about throwing shade at President Carter while slimming down with the Tuna and Banana Diet?

Aunt Millicent, I really don’t have time to explain avocados to you, I’m too busy being SO KOOKY!

Except for the omnipresent water chestnuts, these actually don’t sound too hideous, but check out those overly-lubed up carrots on the left. At first I thought they were hot dog fingers, and was wondering which dip you’d dunk them in? The guacamole del gringo?

And frankly, I just love this ad, especially the optimism on the face of the kid with the grape Crush in the Mets cap. Yeah, Jimmy, 1986 is going to be great! Then settle in for a long, disappointing life.

This issue is basically an embarrassment of riches, so Constant Readers, I would like to ask YOU what other articles or features you’d like to take a closer look at:


Voting closes Monday, April 6! In the meantime, stay healthy, stay isolated, and may you have all the toilet paper you need!

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16 Responses to Magazine Madness and/or Mania: Ideas For Hideous Entertaining from Seventeen, May 1978

  1. miss amy says:

    Frankly, I want to hear about ALL these articles. This looks amazing.

  2. I… remember… that avocado ad. Doubt I had a clue what one was. Never thought the ads for Oneida silverware in 17 were odd until now. 13 year old me knew the expectation was that you got married. Do miss the formality of school clothing, though. Blouses, skirts, blazers… Think you should start with Tatum’s interview, though. Also, I have the back to school 1982 issue that I intend to be cremated with.

    • mondomolly says:

      I love it! Sadly most of my original issues were cut up for various collage-type projects (including an entire dresser that I decopaged). I was able to replace a few issues via Ebay, but the prices are getting astronomical!

  3. Julie says:

    Yeah, I’d enjoy your review of any of the articles!
    I think my favorite part of this post was the avocado ad. It really made me smile.

  4. Sheesh says:

    Seventeen was a Triangle publication, FYI – nothing to do with Hearst,

  5. Trina Clements says:

    I remember the “Draw Winky” ad! Of course I was only 7 at the time this was published so that’s probably the only thing that would catch my attention.

  6. Maureen says:

    Thank you for this. I’m obsessed with old issues of Seventeen magazine. It’s like traveling in a time machine.

  7. Amity says:

    I’m too late to vote but I wouldn’t have been able to pick just one anyway. I want to read them all too!

  8. Pingback: Movie Madness and/or Mania: Snowbound (1978) | Lost Classics of Teen Lit: 1939-1989

  9. Cee says:

    OMG Smile! Great movie!

    I was a little young for Seventeen at that time, but a couple of years later my grandmother bought me a subscription to what was then called Young Miss (later rebranded as Young and Modern, and then YM). I had no idea what a hope chest was or why there were so many ads for them.

    • mondomolly says:

      Oh yeah, I had a YM subscription, I chose it over Seventeen becaus ein the early 1990s they always featured TWO personality quizzes per month, which I solemnly regarded as holding the key to unlocking happiness 😀

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