To Girls, 'Sassy' Meant Something MoreNot every teen magazine was all about makeup and boys. To its readers, Sassy helped bring girl power to the mainstream. Writer Kara Jesella talks about the magazine's cult following and her new book, How Sassy Changed My Life.
A Sassy magazine reader listened to Fugazi, didn't wait for someone to ask her to the prom, and was capable of making her own dress.
In the '80s and early '90s, teen magazine readers could be grouped into two categories. The Seventeen reader had New Kids on the Block playing in her Walkman, her prom dress picked in September and probably went with a senior.
Then, there were the Sassy girls.
Sassy was the antithesis of the homecoming queen, please-your-boyfriend culture. It published articles about suicide and STDs while Seventeen was still teaching girls how to get a boy to notice you.
Although Sassy folded in 1994, its readers remember it well. The generation of women that was influenced by the magazine went on to create a new batch of Sassy-inspired publications like Bitch, Bust, and Venus.
In the new book, How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time, co-authors Kara Jesella and Marisa Meltzer detail the rise and fall of the magazine and argue that it was less a teenage moment than an early feminist movement.