“Is your phone ruining your skin?” Notes from a teen magazine in 2016

When I was a teenager from 1999 to 2005, I ogled my fair share of teen fashion and pop culture magazines.

Strangely, over the past couple months, I’ve received not one but three copies of Seventeen Magazine in the mail, addressed directly to me. Naturally, my curiosity compelled me took a look rather than just toss them in the recycling bin. 

Particularly fascinating was the social media themed issue that came out this month. It was very similar to the teen mags of the early 2000s (and the decades before), naturally updated for the times with a bunch of phone and social media centric content and strange young people lingo. What an interesting window into their minds and lives, and what they care about (or what the media tells them they should care about, or both). It would be fun to sit down and look through it with my 15-year-old cousin who lives in FL. What I wonder is, how do the non-17-year-old editors and content creators know what to put in here? Interns? Focus groups? “Cool hunting”? 





It’s culturally interesting to flip through but also personal, as I’ve been realizing more and more over the past few years that even though I’m categorized as a Millennial, I’m no longer part of the more youthful generations, like the one that you’re in right before you get into adulthood, or the one where you’re a so-called young adult but you still feel like a kid. The place or moment in time of Gen Z, and whatever the next one is. I felt this way up until around sometime in grad school, but it’s becoming a more and more distant memory. 

The Old School


Make-up reviews and ads galore. How to achieve the looks of famous, perfect looking people. 


Make-up “innovation” marketing. 


Decades-old body image goals with revolving trends.  


Make-up tutorials and product placement. 


Being grounded from your cellphone today was me getting grounded from my phone and desktop computer/internet. 


Boys as mysteries to be decoded.


Juicy, relatable confessionals.


Yay! The art of the prank call hasn’t been totally lost. 

The New School


Selfie tutorials, which you do after your make-up, of course. 


How did I do? Got the pouty plump lips and hashtag. 


Connecting with the media, through social media.  


Beauty as related to technology and devices (maybe not a totally new concept, but I don’t recall it being this direct).


Breakouts and “tech neck”. 💩💩💩 But wait, I thought kids did far less actual talking on the phone than chatting and apps…


Teaching basic social interaction skills. At least I think doing it at this fundamental level is new-ish…

Trendy Whippersnapper Lingo


I still can’t figure out what the hell a Finsta is. Also, I don’t remember seeing much or any LGBTQ content back then. 


Hashtag everything. Acronyms. Abbreviations. Shareable #OOTD (Outfit of the Day) for “daily inspo”.


Looks like iOS has some catching up to do. 


Glad to see BFF is still around. #OG. 


Subs = subscriptions. DUH! (My boyfriend had to tell me that one.)

One thought on ““Is your phone ruining your skin?” Notes from a teen magazine in 2016

  1. Feeling a lot of nostalgia reading through this post! There are a lot of familiar themes there, but it’s interesting to see the technology and language evolution. Makes me wish I’d kept an older copy or two to compare.

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