How To Make Up Your Own Mind
by DURGA CHEW-BOSE
Based on font alone, YM was the lesser Seventeen. Italic serif trumps squat sans-serif any day. More accurately, toting a magazine whose title spoke to a future, more seasoned age, far outweighed one that might pass for a daytime soap or a new, travel-size tampon ad campaign.
But YM had the juice! They had free numerology booklets, Britney in a diamond-filled bathtub, Ryan & Reese in multiple issues, more contests, more MTV, more visible tattoos, and cheesier Photoshop — at the time, a good thing. They also featured a higher count of dimply, floppy haired boys on their covers: Barry, Devon, Gavin, Scott, Matt. So in that spirit, here are a few vague abstractions, a "Where Are They Now?" if you will.
"The Audible Knuckle-Cracker"
In a bi-coastal long distance relationship
Masterly maneuvers inside lining tears in her peacoat sleeves
Had a pet snake as a kid and named it Palindrome
When complimented about her piano hands she reflexively lies and complains about her fictional childhood piano teacher Thérèse
Untangles gold chains for friends when she's high
Equates talking about the annals of finding suitable work clothes to talking about the weather
Answers the phone with "Sup" or "Yo"
"The Braided Bed Head"
Always opts to sit on the floor
Has an ongoing theory about pets looking like their owners with the exception of celebrities
Takes pants-less Photobooth pictures of herself in her Ecru-Tulipe Saint James long sleeve
Recommends that everyone read Marguerite Yourcenar's Alexis
Has a fantastic sense of direction and can gauge if you respond better to points of compass or landmark routes
Things she hates that people assume she loves: botanical tattoos, Nicole Krauss books, marzipan, impromptu hula hooping
L-shaped couches give her bad vibes
"The Future Jenna Lyons"
Can switch from blonde to brunette seamlessly
Takes an adderall and then pops her pimples, plucks her eyebrows, and bids on trompe-l'œil eBay serving dishes
Lieutenant jackets, Ikat weaving, chunky statement jewelry
Has a twin brother that she rarely mentions; as kids they were Lands' End catalogue models
Is always caught skulking in photographs or lifting things with claw hands
Was worried Chanel Vamp nail polish would get discontinued again so she stashed a supply in her closet
Has low blood pressure
"The Clinique Happy"
Still collects Sanrio cell phone charms
Mouths the words as she reads on the subway
Three beers in, she'll request Soulja Boy and flawlessly execute the "Crank That" dance
Wears her mother's college graduation ring
Has no patience for people who stand on escalators
Never got the whole Winona Ryder thing
Her How-To "Cake Icing Technique" video has 427, 131 hits on YouTube
"The Girl with a Boy's Name"
Can only read in bed if she's wearing a headlamp
Describes her extended family using a wine lexicon: Acetic, Aggressive, Bold, Dry, Nutty, and Corked
Dresses up as either a cat or an iPod for Halloween
When discouraged about life she refers to her Model UN plenary address from junior year
Always has her shawl collar oversized Harris tweed blazer
On days when she occasionally wears mascara, friends of her parents sigh emphatically and tell her that she looks like Natalie Wood
Has especially postural Kyphosis in a dress
Seventeen was treated like a nonrival good. Passed around from sleepovers to backpacks to bio class to cafeteria huddles, the magazine was rarely read alone and circulated with the same urgent mien of teenage insecurity. Questions about Like vs. Lust vs. Love, prom, parents, back to school layering, and ratifying horoscopes, were asked and then answered in one sweeping quiz, personal essay, or celebrity interview.
Especially iconic were the covers: a close-up of Jennifer Love-Hewitt cozied in her white turtleneck, Claire Danes crouching in a pink trench with Mod Squad 'tude, Reese Witherspoon sprawled on a chaise lounge, a Drew Barrymore cut-out from Ever After, Jordana Brewster! Brad Renfro! They just don't make 'em like they used to. Luckily, I dug up some old covers and added a few extra trimmings for good measure.
"The New Me!"
Contemplating buying a pair of "Brilliant Blue" colored contacts
Determined to find the pink Gwyneth Oscar gown for prom
From here on out, no more smiling in pictures. Just pout.
Entrepreneurship vs. Environmentalism? Hmm...
Often seen twirling car keys
"The Cat Woman"
Self publishing comic zine based on Queen Cordelia
Family friends often remark, "You're looking more and more like your mother!"
Secretly already have an outfit planned for Accepted Students Day
Bored by girls who are only now obsessing over Christiane F.
Parents are upstairs
Apparently there’s a boy who’s coming who might spike the punch
The girls know all the words to "The Boy is Mine"
Count four pairs of dELiA*s platform Mary Janes
Later, Donna Martin Popcorn Ice Cream in bed while reading Little Girl Lost
“Doing Homework On the Bed”
Middle part, no eyeliner, no mascara, just ChapStick
Uses Rhodia notebooks
Surprises everyone and auditions for the lead in the school play
Reads her mother’s copy of To Kill A Mockingbird instead of the one handed out in class
Likes resting face on cold surfaces like marble countertops
Summer before college road trip with Mom to The Mount
Rosy cheeked after one glass of red wine
Recites The Gettysburg Address as nerve pacifying technique before tests or first dates
Romanticizes growing up in a suburb subdivision
"Seven (The Twelves Remix)" - Fever Ray (mp3)
"Not In Love" - Crystal Castles ft. Robert Smith of The Cure (mp3)
"My Name Is Trouble" - Keren Ann (mp3)
"Not About Love" - Fiona Apple (mp3)