Smells like teen spirit: A few thoughts on Sassy 2.0, or whatever we're calling it

Well, what do you know? I was just gearing up to write a post about the Bitch library's recent acquisition of a full set of Sassy magazines—the first issue! the Kurt 'n' Courtney issue! All the issues!—which were a gift from the fabulous Rita Hao, forever friend of Bitch and a member of our National Advisory Board. And then the news came down the Intertubes that tiny wunderkind style blogger Tavi Gevinson will be teaming up with founding Sassy editor Jane Pratt to launch a new teen magazine at some point in the not-too-distant future. According to a somewhat vague post on Gevinson's blog, Style Rookie:

You guys may know how I feel about Sassy. You also may know that I've been babbling about how I think our generation should get one, too. Jane Pratt, founding editor and then EIC of Sassy, also became aware, and emailed me, and we've met a couple times, and it looks like we're going to start a magazine for an audience of wallflowerly teenage girls.

(I am trying so hard to be cool and professional right now.)

(Trying. so. hard.)

Of course, it won't be Sassy (or the rebirth of Sassy, or Sassy 2.0) and nor do we want it to be. For one, you can't try to recreate something that good. For another, while I can read old issues of Sassy and relate, the world has changed a bit in the past 15 or so years, and that whole Internet thing happened, and this world calls for something different. Something that will use Sassy as a point of reference for the whole teen-magazine-that-doesn't-suck thing, and something in which Jane Pratt will take part, but something that is not trying to recreate the other something a bunch of us love and don't want to see copied.

Cue the ladyfashion blogosphere going apeshit.  

With a paucity of facts to go on—all we know is that it's a print magazine set to launch in Fall 2011 (with a website launching this coming spring), and that Tavi's blog has issued an open call for submissions—it's hard to know how to react to this news. Those familiar with Bitch Media's origins know that two of its founders interned at Sassy, that Sassy was the chief inspiration for Bitch, and that when Pratt perpetrated the extended celebrity ass-snuggling that was Jane magazine, we kind of lost our faith in her.

As one of said founders and still a diehard magazine geek, and who furthermore is a fan of Gevinson's smart, precocious feminist fashion blogging, I'm psyched. But at the risk of peeing in people's Cheerios, I'm also curious: Does anyone else find Pratt's involvement in this news a little creepy? Like, kind of vampiric, even?

Gevinson, after all, is 14 years old. Her experience of Sassy has already happened entirely in retrospect; when the magazine folded in 1995, she hadn't yet been born. Pratt, meanwhile, left publishing after being let go from her namesake magazine shortly before it folded, and has since been doing radio. (Her weekly live Sirius show, Jane Radio, launched in 2007, was upon its launch billed as "a public therapy session for the host and her listeners"—no surprise considering Pratt's many way-too-full disclosures in Jane.) Given Pratt's well-documented habit of exploiting her relationships with famous people (Michael Stipe, Drew Barrymore) in the course of her career, I don't think it's unfair to suspect that she sees in Gevinson an easy way to make herself relevant again.

I get that Tavi thinks that Sassy was awesome (it was) and that magazines for teen girls should be better (they should). But Style Rookie, with its self-aware—and often self-deprecating—musings on high-school social life and lovely, off-kilter photographs of the adorable but decidedly not-modelesque author, is already like Sassy in many ways. In fact, it's much more like Sassy than any new teen magazine, in a mainstream format, with advertisers to please and corporate dictates to bend to, could ever be. ("Wallflowery," as you might imagine, is not an adjective the suits want to hear when talking about an audience to whom they hope to sell eyeshadow and skinny jeans.)

Again, it's hard to speculate with so little information, so we'll look forward to hearing more. Meanwhile, if you're intrigued by this whole development and want to know what Sassy was all about—or you're a former reader who wants to take a little detour into your Juliana Hatfield–listening, babydoll dress–wearing past—well, come sit down with our new acquisition.

by Andi Zeisler
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Andi Zeisler is the cofounder of Bitch Media and the author of We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement. You can find her on Twitter.

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14 Comments Have Been Posted


I am old. I subscribed to Sassy's first year and then stopped and then it changed, so the Sassy I remember is the one trying to find its face. And now I see a 14 year old mentioned daily on Jezebel and here, and I wish her well but wonder what her connections are. I feel cynical to the point where take it leave it, none of it matters anymore.

Sassy 2.0 may be cool but Bitch will always be rad

@Maura, you're not old...I subscribed to Sassy and JANE when they were active. I'm 28 and I do not consider myself old by any means. Nor will I be when I'm 82. Fuck that noise.

Sigh. I was too young for

Sigh. I was too young for Sassy and will be too old for this thing. I love Bitch now, but through all my teenage years of reading Teen Vogue, Teen Elle, Teen, YM, Seventeen, and GL, I wish they had all been a little more sassy.

While Sassy was amazing ...

... and <i>Jane</i> was nauseatingly full of starf*cking, borderline anorexic size-zero models, expensive haute couture, and polluting advertorials ... I remain skeptical. If this new venture feels more like <i>Sassy</i>, some gift subs will definitely be sent to the nieces. But if it's a "teen <i>Jane</i>," no gift subs for them ... or anyone.


I'm 21, I'm about to graduate from college with a print journalism degree (haha I've heard it all about ~there's no market for you~, trust me, but I am also a pretty decent copy editor and so can make people's stuff look good until I get some semblance of a Real Job), I have interned and work for my school paper, I've paid my dues, so I'm a bit sad to see a 13-year-old helping start a dang magazine when I'm still worried about what I'll do after I graduate. Is that bad? :(


I think it's great

I adored Sassy when I was a teen - as I'm 31 now, I had a subscription during the years that the Kurt and Courtney issue came out. I really wish I would have kept all of my old issues...

I think it's great that Tavi is getting that opportunity. I hope the new magazine is just as cool as Sassy was!

I was too young for Sassy

I was too young for Sassy when it was around. However, I found a scanned version of an article from it floating around on Tumblr and I loved it! So there's that--if the writing content of this new endeavor is like that article I found (it was about the value of not making your entire life revolve around the capture and keeping of a boyfriend), then that's rockin' awesome. I guess we just need to wait and see :D

re: dang

I thought it was just me... I kind of feel the same way about it too, and I'm trying to decide if it's just spite on my part, or if my resentment directed at a twee 13 year old is somehow justifiable in a youth-culture-YAY!/old(er)-people-now-obsolete kind of way.

Yeah, I mean part of me is

Yeah, I mean part of me is like wow, that's great! Super nice! But a) the word twee needs to be used more often because it is awesome and b) I can totally see your youth culture standpoint, as I'm on it too. Soon we'll have eight-year-olds creating tween mags or something, lol. I dunno.

Aw come on now...

Come on now, if I, a working class woman working in a dead end office job, can be happy for Tavi, surely you can. :)

Haha! Fair enough, Pecola.

Haha! Fair enough, Pecola. Part of me is happy; part of me is really just terrified about what awaits me after graduation, being in a similar field (although I tend more to the hard news, media criticism, etc. side of things, hence why I love Bitch!), and then seeing someone 8 years younger than me manage to do something I may honestly never accomplish :(

I feel you. Myself and so

I feel you. Myself and so many of my peers spent years studying, networking, volunteering, and working shitty pay-your-dues jobs, and we'll likely never get near this kind of opportunity. I wish Tavi well and all, she seems a nice kid, but she is just that ... a kid. As someone educated/involved in 'the creative industries', it is a little galling to see.

i like rookie!!

I have never read sassy or jane so i cannot offer an opinion on how rookie mag relates to them, but as a teenager and i think part of the audience rookie is aimed at, i think it is really cool. Its cool to read something that has both articles about fashion and movies and tv shows that i love as well as really insightful articles about bullying, especially among girls, and teenage-hood as a whole that have on multiple occasions made me feel a whole lot better. so its about a lot of things.

what i was trying to say

sorry what i meant by all that jumble was that for a teenager, its really cool to read something by a teenager. thats not about whether my boyfriend thinks im promzilla or not.

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