It Happened to Me: I Was a Sassy Girl*

I wasn’t an early reader of Sassy. In 1988 I was 10. Perhaps I grazed through my adolescence sneaking peeks at my older sisters issues, but as I aged, I became a Sassy girl. Reading How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teem Magazine of All Time by Kara Jesella and Marisa Meltzer is a nostalgic trip to the early 90’s where individuality was all the rage. What a better guide book for teenage girls to turn to than a weekly publication to learn what was cool. Girls around the nation gobbled it up cover to cover searching for the keys to the cultural kingdom. Unlocking the mystery of adolescence while illuminating indie rock, politics, sex, abortion, feminism, and licking up everything else the magazine sponged unto us. Sassy was our queen bee. 

Reading this book made me analyze my teenage years and formations. It shaped who was I was, who I am. I transformed into Sassy girl with out realizing it. Sassy taught me  what it meant to be a feminist. According to the authors I was not alone. ”In a way, a commercial magazine with advertisements for eye shadow and Doc Martens was the perfect place for the Sassy staff to get out the message that girls were equal to boys, that the right to abortion was imperative, and that being smart was more important than being popular.”

There were other things I picked up from the magazine along the way too. Around sophomore year of high school my best friend Carla and I started producing a blog called Potatodog. “Sassy encouraged girls not to just consume culture…but to create themselves…Sassy single-handedly shifted the paradigm of what kinds of things were cool for a teenage girl to do.” 

Beyond my own historical journey, as the book unfolds readers learn the rise and fall of the most unique teen magazine of all time. Ironically the book could have been called How Sassy Changed my Life: A Love Letter to Christina Kelly. For it was Christina Kelly who helped define what was cool in her What Now section and introduced many of us to what was “indie.” Plus, she professed love for cute boys. She seemed to be the sass  behind Sassy and clearly knew her role. As they all did. Reading about their office life as an almost 30 year old I’m jealous for they still seem so cool. The office was like a playground for incestuous affairs, late nights, free CDs, celebrities, and pink cubicles.  

Sassy ended up being it’s own contradiction in many respects, but what resonates personally is that “conformity became uniformity.” As a teen I was consciously nonconformist. As an adult, I’m definitely an individual, but don’t feel the need to be in a certain box and am comfortable with who I am. I learned. I grew. I am grateful for something that influenced and contributed to my being. Which in my opinion, was Sassy’s overall message, so all these years later, I’m proud to say I’m a Sassy girl. 


*This was my first attempt at a book review of sorts.


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