Between 1988 and 1994, there existed a magazine for girls that changed the lives of more people than YM or Seventeen could ever claim to. It started out brilliant and maintained that status for a long time before its eventual demise, after it was driven under for lack of advertisers. It existed for a few more issues in a completely different incarnation, though the name and much of the format remained the same. But that is not worth discussing. Sassy was a force of change. It started trends, discovered bands, helped to define 'alternative,' while it was one. There were good and bad aspects, but overall it deserves credit for its audacity and for the role it played in directly and indirectly changing the meaning of being a teenage girl.

Sassy, like many girls' magazines, was essentially a fashion magazine. They delved into other areas, and were successful there, but the photo spreads and associated articles defined the magazine. Striped tights, babydoll dresses, Doc Martens, blue and black nailpolish, tight t-shirts, combat boots, and barrettes all played leading roles in the Sassy approach to decorating oneself. Sassy shunned clothing from traditional manufacturers of juniors' clothing and instead made heavy use of items from Tripp NYC, Betsy Johnson, and a cornocopia of thrift stores. They never advocated that teenage girls dress like other teenage girls, but rather that they go out and find unique garments that would work with a more personal idea of fashion.

Aside from clothing and makeup, Sassy provided other staples of the teen magazine, including boys (cute boy alert), bands (cute band alert), true-life stories from readers (it happened to me), and gossip (what now). They did book, CD, and movie reviews, quizzes, and provided instruction in cooking and crafts. They also wrote articles that were not dumbed down and focused on political causes, symptoms of sexism or racism, and other topics we never saw mentioned in the pages of Seventeen. For a long time, this was all done with a DIY spirit that made Sassy stand out.

Others may disagree, but for me Sassy lost its edge when Jane started getting famous. She ran a great magazine and she deserved it, but her fame changed the nature of Sassy. At a crucial point in the publication's timeline, when the responsible parties should have been concentrating on maintaining their loyal readership, they began to slip. They started to run articles on why the cast of 90210 really weren't so bad. They did makeovers. The self-indulgence once reserved for diary spread to nearly every page of the magazine. Unconsciously, it seemed, Sassy began to parody itself. Instead of exploring, it worked within the stereotypes others had crafted for it. There were problems from the beginning - for instance, the hypocrisy of telling girls in every issue that they didn't need to be skinny, while bombarding us with images of tortured waifs. But at this point, inertia grabbed hold of Sassy and began to pull it under.

They changed a lot of little things about American girls and their society, but once people outside their readership started unknowingly taking their advice to heart, it seemed they had nothing more to offer in terms of innovation and consciousness-raising.

I, and a lot of other people, I'm sure, have a lot to thank Sassy for: grunge fashion as fashion, not sloppiness, Bratmobile, cool shoes, feminism, L7, The House on Mango Street, Twisted Sisters, pride in my convictions, inspiration, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Kevin Smith, zines, skepticism, and, in part, myself. It was important, and it was sad to see it go.

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