Barbies were my fucking life as a kid. Hours upon hours of just sitting in my little fantasy world creating stories based on a pile of plastic toys that were both giving me companionship and a heap of insecurities all at the same time. Of course, there comes a day in everyone’s life when they have to choose between toys and some older option. For me, that day was sometime in 5th grade.
The money my dad gave me every couple of weeks to make up for living elsewhere wasn’t much, but it was just enough to either continue my growing collection of Barbies and fashion accessories, or start a new collection of glossy posters. Anyone who went into my room between 5th and…college…knows all too well I chose the latter. Thus began my infatuation, fucking obsession with teen magazines AKA the Teeny Bopper Crush Bibles.
This week we’re talking to Jaida Aneese about her teeny bopper crush, and while she is from a generation vastly different than mine in many ways – we both looked to the likes of ‘Tiger Beat’ and ‘Bop’ to get our fill of our crushes from once upon a time. That’s because no matter what, teeny bopper magazines are a staple to many in every generation dating back to the ‘70s when Leif Garrett was the hottest thing on the planet and not just a clip on a “Where Are They Now?” Mojo list.
Back then it was all about curating the hottest stars young fans wanted and piling them into vibrant layouts where the articles were never going to win anyone a Pulitzer. Wait, yeah…that’s how they have been working ever since because really, the written content always took a backseat to the abundance of 8x12s and massive centerfolds. Thinking about it, these were and are just ‘Penthouse’ for the tween and teen market. Which, yeah…who didn’t discover new and exciting parts of themselves to a picture like this in 1999?
While the staples like ‘Tiger Beat’ and ‘Bop’ were my ride or die purchases at the beginning of this magazine collection, I quickly went on to purchase just about anything at the newsstand that had Backstreet Boys on the cover. Which in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s meant…way too many fucking magazines. The ‘Teen People’ with Nick Carter, Britney Spears, and Monica or the ‘Rolling Stone’ with BSB on the cover with their pants down? Hang each of those in a ‘90s museum because they were both art and a MOMENT.
Today, most of that insane collection is dead and gone thanks to my college dorm not having enough room for me to haul them all with me but I’ll always have the memories of the excitement felt on Friday nights when I’d sit at Food 4 Less, doing the math in my head for which magazines I could get that week. Then taking them home, doing the quizzes to find out which boy band I was the biggest fan of (BSB, duh), and spending hours upon hours – no longer creating worlds of fantasy with Barbies – but sketching out blueprints and shit on how to decorate my room with new glossy additions.
You can say this is also where my hatred of bare walls spawned as well. I grew up in a double wide trailer from the ‘70s. The brown paneled walls made my skin crawl, so when I discovered posters and pinups, I realized I could make my room over, and pretend it wasn’t this trailer in the middle of nowhere but a teeny bopper crush fantasy land that was comforting when perhaps life wasn’t.
To this day, I still find myself gazing over at the magazines in the grocery store. Of course, with the internet, the selection is a little less now but I still look to see who the next wave of teeny bopper crushes are. And while I’m no longer their demographic, I smile thinking of the kids who are going to pick them up, rip out the glossy pics of Shawn Mendes, BTS, or whoever else is hot that month and find solace in them like I did back in the day.