What a trip down memory lane the other day. My work associate, Simone, brought in a couple of her old issues of Co-ed Magazine. This is the magazine most of us drooled over in the 60’s. April. September. 1963. When my daughter looked at these issues last night, she had only one comment… oh, my! I think the generation gap just widened.
To truly experience this, you’d have to pick up an issue of today’s Seventeen or Co-ed and compare them side by side.
In 1963 we were well into the June Cleaver model of femininity… pearls, bows, fluttering eyelashes, and a stove. I have nothing against stoves, mind you, but I don’t do them very well. And, it’s interesting for a woman who has been “bucking the system” for a few years to go back and see what MY teen mags were preparing me for. And then, having a look at what today’s teen mags are coaching my daughter to think and do.
First and foremost in the ‘63 version is food and food preparation. “Recipes USA, from Wisconsin and Maryland… that’s page 9; Club Special, a party on page 14; Co-ed’s Quick-Step Cookery, on page 41; and a Mother-Daughter Luncheon where daughter serves the meal, on page 50.
Next section of the contents page deals with “Face and Figure” where we learn how to sew right for summer, develop portable, convertible hair-do’s on page 18, the Charm Course, No. 8 on page 22; Starlight Fashions… dresses that go dancing on page 24 and a sweater jacket pattern we could knit on page 58.
Then it’s time to clean. Page 40 is the beginning of a section on how to clean things. Then we sally right into cleaning closets (page 27), learning about appropriate cleaning equipment. After we’ve washed and lotioned our hands after all that cleaning, we learn about choosing cheese (yes, cheese!) on page 28. This racey section winds up with Getting Your Money’s Worth on page 30.
Three pages are devoted to friends and family, being an unpopular girl on page 35, pointers on the preschooler for babysitters on page 36, and the common problem of not being able to talk to my mother on page 37.
As we look at careers of the future, there is one highlighted in this issue… the Home Economist in Action on page 20.
The fiction section in this issue offers a piece on Goals in Life; Double Trouble where Linda has to choose; and the Here’s How section on page 47 which has a series of advice bits to letters about adding a new taste to icing, exercising while babysitting, fixing your eyeglass frame, storing a hat in a plastic bag, storing maps and papers in empty waxed paper rolls, closing frozen vegetable bags with a clothes pin.
I’m not kidding!
Let’s look at who supports this magazine with advertising…
Osterizer Blenders. PhisoHex (to take me out of the lonely world of acne). Pursettes (tiny tampons). a Free Wedding Catalogue. Keepsake (the engagement ring with the perfect centre diamond). Tip Top (the prettiest way to keep a curl). Arrid deodorant. Clearasil. Orange Blossom engagement and wedding bands. Swift ice cream. Robertshaw Gas Ranges (there’s the stove thing again!). Lovable bras. And the premier ad spot inside opposite the contents page? Singer Sewing Machines.
Now, I’m laughing a bit as I write this, but it goes along with the songs of the era… Leader of the Pack, I Wanna Be Bobby’s Girl, Calendar Girl.
And some of us look at today’s generation and shake our heads at their values and attitudes. I have to challenge the women (and mothers of teenagers) of my generation and ask if the material we read in the 60’s prepared us to be self fulfilled, career-cenntred, independent, happy people. Or, did they teach us to be dependent, objects of beauty incapable of changing a switchplate or finding the fuse panel?
I know what I’d put in the contents of a teen magazine for girls today. Next week I’ll have a look at what my daughter’s reading today and we’ll compare the messages of the 90’s. Hold on…
Meanwhile, I’m going to order 30 wallet photos for a dollar, put on my apron and whip up a tomato aspic!