As voted upon by YOU, THE READERS, this week we take a second look at the May, 1978 issue of Seventeen, specifically the tiny, black & white advertisements for teenage dreams and schemes.
As a Seventeen reader in the early 1990s, I have to admit that I barely glanced at these ads, except for noting that the stock photos and clip art seemed vaguely outdated. There is a reason for that: Seventeen basically had a roster of these advertisers (boarding schools, weight-loss camps, junior colleges, career opportunities) and some of them used the exact same ad for DECADES.
For the May issue, they put the Fat Camps up front:
Most of these camps (eventually joined by the ubiquitous Camp La Jolla) will advertise for the next three decades.
Here is Camp Camelot’s ad from the June 1988 issue, which updated the graphics to a photo (but still pushes the tennis):
Does anything sound more dire than spending the summer at Fat Camp in “Amish Country”?
The same photo appears in a slightly different format in April of 1991:
The EXACT same advertisement for Camp Murrietta appears in the 1970s, 80s and 90s issues. Ditto for Kingsmont Camp, who was never going to give up that clip art. Weight Watchers is obviously the high roller, frequently refreshing their logo and graphics.
Alas, I was unable to find out what happened to Camp Camelot. They got some bad press in the late 1990s, and here is a recollection from a former camper .
The next pages feature ads for what I would categorize as “education, career opporunities and get-rich-quick schemes”:
First up are the boarding school and Junior Colleges. Mount Ida college operated until 2018, when it became part of UMass’s Amherst campus.
The only ad still using the archiac “finishing school” in its description is Patricia Stevens International, founded in 1947. Its St. Louis affiliate still exists as a “private, for-profit college” under the name Stevens Institute of Business and Arts (SIBA).
Also in the private, for-profit category is Miss Wade’s Fashion Mechandising College of Dallas. The 1978 ad is easy to overlook on the crowded page, but 10 years later they had a sleek new attitude and (clip art) logo for their advertising:
Virtually the same ad was still running in 1994, although with an even sassier tagline:
Status: still going strong as Wade College in the 21st century!
And then of course we have the Three Bs: Brooks, Bauder and Barbizon.
Brooks College used that exact same Peter Max-inspired ad in 1978 that they did throughout the 80s and early-90s. Here is is in the June 1988 issue:
But by 1994 they were buying less ad space, and using clip art that was somehow even MORE out-of-date looking:
Status: Both campuses closed in 2008, following an exposé on 60 Minutes and and various financial and accreditation problems.
Bauder College had multiple locations with multiple advertisements in every issue. Here the Ft. Lauderdale and Atlanta locations share a page, using very different designs for their advertising:
In 1994, the Atlanta location was buying less space and running this plain-Jane ad:
Status: folded in 2015, when students were offered transfers to the troubled for-profit Kaplan Higher Education.
Again, there is clearly one high roller in this bunch, and that is The Barbizon School, founded in 1939 with a tony Fifth Avenue address. As you can see, in 1978 they were already using their famous “Be a model… or just look like one!” tagline.
Here is the 1988 version:
(Note that the office had moved to less-tony Third Avenue by this point)
And in 1994:
Barbizon, like many an elderly Manhattanite, was now receiving their mail in Boca Raton.
Status: franchised throughout the world, the New York City location now calls the Garment District home.
And finally, we can’t forget Art Instruction Schools, with their promise of prizes and scholarships for assessing the ability of insomniacs and smokers to DRAW ME. Here is Tippy in 1978:
And this no-name bear in 1994:
Status: you last had a chance to Draw Me in 2016, and the school closed for good in 2018, after 104 years.
So, Constant Readers, now I want to hear from you! Did you ever take a course through Barbizon? Dream of attending a boarding school? Ponder a career in fashion merchandising? Draw one of the many Draw Mes? (It is the Pirate I remember being in heavy circulation during my high school years) And if you somehow attended Fat Camp in Amish Country, you should definitely be writing a YA novel about that!
Later this week we will conclude Seventeen’s back-of-the-book insanity with some truly wild personalized mail-order MERCH from 1978.
I was going to comment on the last post you did about the Barbizon ads, I remember them being in magazines well into the 90’s…. they probably helped to inspire me to attend John Robert Powers School of modeling when I was in junior high lol…. I remember they had a very glamorous office in a ritzy area of town. Don’t remember anything I learned there though lol.
Oh, that is great! There are definitely some John Robert Powers ads in the 80s and 90s issues, I’ll dig some up! Thanks for sharing!
I sent away for one of the horse-themed brochures. But alas I ended up at the local day camp instead. And almost went to Katie Gibbs. (Wonder where their ad was?)
I love it! I think I saw at least one Katie Gibbs ad in one of my issues, I’ll take a another look and post it. Thanks for sharing!
I remember those ads well, though I never actually answered any of them!
I never did either, although I think I wrote away for every catalog advertised in the back of the New Yorker when I was in middle school 😀
Riding camps though!
😀 Did you go to one? Di you pick it out of the back of Seventeen? My riding was limited to Girl Scout camp, and I always got stuck on the Shetland pony becuase I was 4′ 8″ for a really long time ! 😀
I wish I had! I’d look at those ads and wish. Oh, the memories…
I *taught* riding at a camp (a general girls’ camp, not one specifically for riding) in NC. I keep looking to see if that camp was featured in any of these ads–alas, no.
I used to be so fascinated with these ads. Who was picking schools from the backs of magazines? Besides the parents in Is That You Miss Blue? I mean.
I feel like this was Curtis Sittenfeld’s orgin story… but she went to Groton, so was obviously reading a better class of magazine 😉
Loved your recap. I must admit, I am the kind of reader who skips ads, they just don’t draw my eye. So, I don’t remember any of these specifically.
But my BFF actually went to a fat camp in the early 90s, which, as I recall, was pretty similar to the post you linked to. They weren’t shamed by the counselors or anything, but they got routed out of bed at 7:00 am for a 5 mile walk every day. And it sounded like they mostly just ate lettuce from a salad bar. I think the closest they got to contraband was when her mom came to visit and brought her some sugar free hard candy. I still remember her letter about the snobbiest camper in her bunk suddenly being nice and sucking up to her in hopes of getting some candy….
I was always fascinated by the concept, since (like I noted with the riding) my parents just tried to get the Girl Scouts to take care of slimming me down, LOL. I do love how no matter the kind of camp or the decade, the parts of the camp experience remain unchanged!
You need to watch the famous MTC special Fat Camp. It is *brilliant.*
YES! I loved this special, glad to see The Internet has preserved it. Did you see the short-lived series Huge (based on a YA book) that ran on ABC Family about 10 years ago? It was amazing, so sad that it got canceled after 10 episodes or so.
We had a contest every year among all the schools in our county to celebrate our biggest industry and each school had a runoff assembly to pick the contestants. Most of the girls just wore a sweater and skirt but the girl who’d taken the Barbizon course SWOOPED onto the stage in a magenta organdy disco dress and pretty much acted like she was modeling.
Our girls soccer team played Grier because when we first got started there was no other school nearby that had a team.
I love it! Grief seems to still be in business. TBH, all of this is kind of making me feel like I squandered my life not going to a middling boarding school chosen from the back of a magazine. 😀
This was such a blast from the past. I poured over these back pages, imagining a glamorous life as a fashion designer or model. Or even going to sleep away camp. That’s sounded exotic to me as well. Mom said the career schools were scams so my dreams were dashed.
The other day I caught a mid-90s International Correspondance School TV commercial with Sally Struther (“Do you want to make mre money? Sure, we all do!”) and one of the courses she was touting was for “Gun Repair”.
Lol, I remember those commercials!
Go to Ebay and look at the Barbizon Models Book — one of the listings on there now shows several of the pages, they’re intriguing!
Thanks for the heads up! This definitely seems liek something I need! Although I think I have a cosmotology textbook from the 1960s that has that exact same lip-shape chart!!!!
There are copies at different price-points, and from different years. It’s quite fun, what you can find on ebay 🙂 ! I think new vintage stuff (is that an oxymoron?) may be going up for sale there as people clean during their quarantines, and I expect there will be a lot of new vintage stuff listed by used book and thrift shops as they reopen with donations from people’s quarantine clean-outs. Stuff that might have been hard to find on ebay may be showing up during the next several months!
I hope so! I was browsing for old Seventeens the other day and the prices seemed really high for 80s and 90s issues. Older ones were actually cheaper!
WOW Barbizon…I actually went to a Barbizon School in Syracuse. Interesting memories, and I do still remember some of what I learned there, though obviously a lot of it didn’t stick.
I thought I knew someone who had gone! Would love to hear any Barbizon memories you’d like to share!