Although I am no longer a teen, there is something so magical about teen magazines. The latest trends, fashions and gossip bring me back to the excitement of getting the latest issue in the mail! Today, I am sharing a fun copy of The American Girl Magazine from July 1953.
There is very little information on this magazine online. When googling the topic, American Girl Mag is the top hit (the magazine published by the doll company, which began in 1992). The American Girl Magazine I am focusing on is not about dolls, but rather was published for teen girls by the Girl Scouts of the USA from 1917-1979. They featured anything a teen girl could dream of- fiction and nonfiction stories, fashion, recipes, health and beauty tips, contests and more.
The July 1953 issue features a brown cover with an illustration of a casually dressed teen girl, painted by the late John Fernie, who was a popular magazine artist in this day.
Something interesting to note is that there is over ten advertisements from different companies for selling Christmas cards and greeting cards to make extra money. The girls could purchase these cards for a flat rate and sell them for a profit- promising extra money or even prizes for girls that sell. Today, things like this are obsolete so I was very interested in the sheer number of different companies pushing this- an early MLM perhaps? Also, this issue is from July, so they are starting pretty early. Interesting.
Another thing worth noticing is the tone of some of the advertisements, particularly in how they address bodies. For example, a Clearasil ad states “Psychologists warn that pimples undermine self confidence… may even cause permanent damage to your personality”, and a Lane Bryant ad states “It’s FREE for CHUBBIES! Our new Fall Fashion book telling all about our CHUBBY-sized clothes…for girls and teens too chubby to fit into regular sizes (and everything is priced the same as ‘regular sizes’).” Teenagers are extremely self-conscious to begin with, and to read ads that are directly attacking parts of them that can not be easily controlled seems like a scare-tactic. My heart breaks for the girls that may have taken that to heart back in 1953, and although things are not perfect now, I am glad there have been strides not be so insensitive.
The last page also features a PSA for protecting oneself from Polio. In 1953, vaccinations were not developed yet and people were scared. The tips that it gives are eerily similar to the advice we are currently getting for the Coronavirus- especially “DON’T mix with new groups”. Early social distancing? This gave me a glimmer of hope as well during this difficult time.
Overall, this is such a fun magazine to browse, with stunning illustrations, questionable recipes, advice for summer beauty and fashions, advertisements and more. It gives a small glimpse into what it was like to be a teenage girl in the 1950s.
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