Thirteen-year-old Tavi Gevinson of fashion blog The Style Rookie recently posted a plea: "I, like many, would like another Sassy Magazine," she wrote. Tavi was born in 1997; Sassy ceased publication in 1995. So why does it speak to her?
Tavi describes herself as a "tiny… dork that sits inside all day wearing awkward jackets and pretty hats." She's seen back issues of Sassy and declares:
Sassy was awesome. It called out celebrities and politicians for being assholes, educated its readers on politics without sounding biased, and focused on fashion in a way that was unconventional. It was lipstick feminism for teenage girls, covering sexist issues but not discouraging having fun with makeup or caring about boys. It included R.E.M. records as opposed to the perfume scents of today's teen magazine pages.
While Tavi is not old enough to have read Sassy when it was out on newsstands, I am: I remember it as being irreverent; I remember that it didn't talk down to its readers. I remember how jealous I was that my friend Alisa had a short story published in the mag and I remember that it seemed moody and sometimes dark and sarcastic… like I was.
Tavi claims: "The world this magazine inhabited in the early 90's was about DIY. For the teen generation twenty years later, the convenience of technology has overthrown most do-it-yourself tactics." While it's true that DIY, thrifting and self-expression were big in the '90s, there is a teen-DIY element happening right now, and it's online. In other words, it's blogs like Tavi's that have taken the place of Sassy.
But that doesn't mean that Tavi's generation doesn't need Sassy. A compilation of advice, fashion, ideas and culture that, instead of featuring manufactured, faux-outsiders like Taylor Swift or the chick from MTV's My Life As Liz would actually just be honest with its readers. As Tavi puts it: "Kids these days know what's up far beyond what's happening in the girls' bathroom or on MTV." The problem, of course, is that while Sassy could have counter-culture couple Kurt and Courtney on the cover, are there equivalents in this day and age? (Hint: Tavi believes Miley and Liam are not it.)
A Style Rookie commenter called Lapalomita adds:
What ultimately made Sassy subversive, was that it treats teenage girls like intelligent, capable, interesting people… If you produce a magazine that actively engages girls and women, addresses to their interests & concerns, suggests cool DIY projects (even if they've been done before— after all what hasn't?), and tells them they are smart & capable, that they can be fashionable and booksmart, that "fashion" is more than x-cookie cutter or a size 0, etc, etc— that would be radical and subversive."
Unfortunately, the chances of anyone doing something radical and subversive for teens seem slim. Publishing is expensive, and therefore publishers are conservative. A Style Rookie commenter named Hazel has the solution: "i can really only think of one person who could make this magazine a reality, even if it is online only at first and then gets picked up by a publishing company. DUH TAVI IT'S YOU."
Sassy Today [Style Rookie]
Earlier: How Sassy Changed My Life