Who better to deep dive the boom of the teen mags than legendary editor Atoosa Rubenstein!? As Founding Editor of CosmoGirl (at age 26!), and former Editor-in-Chief of Seventeen magazine, Atoosa's magic was a blend of understanding the teenage experience, while being acutely relatable to her readers (this, despite living a life of glamour and high fashion in NYC should not be underestimated). After leaving the industry in 2006 (and yes, we chat about why), she re-emerged recently with her Substack Newsletter and Podcast of the same name, Atoosa Unedited. The best kind of guest, Atoosa is generous with her insight, nuggets of industry gossip (!), and the experiences she's grown from.
Atoosa was synonymous with teen mags of an era--the late 90's/early 2000's during their heyday, where it felt like every women's magazine was piggybacking off the success of the teen mag boom by launching their own 'little sister' publication. Fast forward a decade, and teen magazines have all but ceased to exist in print, and only a few remain digitally.
We cover so much ground here; including the decline of the magazine industry, Atoosa's remarkable career that spawned an army of teen girls to dream of publishing careers, the singular anatomy of the teen mags (Trauma-Rama anyone!?), and whether magazines in print form is worth saving. When we have so many digital options and influencers telling us how to dress and what to buy (with algorithmic accuracy!), what is the value, if any, of print?
Atoosa also offers career advice to the grown up CosmoGirls who still dream of having a career like hers. I won't spoil it, but it involves being audacious.
For a more dynamic experience, follow us on Instagram @haveyouheardpodcast. So many of our episodes, including this one, are shaped through discussions with listeners, which you can revisit through our IG highlights. We also post cool articles, tv/film recommendations, and generally love to break down notable cultural moments. Hearing from listeners is our fave, so feel free to drop us a DM to share your thoughts on the latest episode, show suggestions, or anything pop culture. You can find us on Twitter @MahsaSays
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Helpful references and links / pop culture homework:
Subscribe to Atoosa Unedited (Substack)
Follow Atoosa on Instagram
Could the Teen Mag Rise Again (The New Yorker, Kate Dwyer)
Returning to the Life You Blew Up (The Cut, Yasmin Gagne)
XOXO, Atoosa (Slate, Heather Schwedel)
Life at 28 with Atoosa Rubenstein (Bustle, Samantha Leach)