This is going to sound so old-ladyish, but the world before Facebook felt more free. I didn’t even get a mobile phone till at least 2003. In the 90s, if you wanted to meet someone, you called them on their landline (also payphones, see above) and then waited for them. If they were late, you just had to wait. You had no idea if their train had been delayed or if they were still asleep or anything. Okay, so that part kind of sucked. But the great thing about no Facebook was, no-one knew what you were doing the entire time. No statuses to update, no photos to de-tag.
What I hate most about Facebook is that everything is so immediate. When a couple break up, they have to change their relationship statuses and then deal with random people that they knew at school, or see every day at work, commenting with shit like “OMG! Are you okay??” and “I can’t believe you guys broke up!!!” If you bump into someone you haven’t seen for a while and say, “Guess what! I broke up with Scotty and took up rollerskating!” – you won’t get any reaction apart from “oh yeah, I saw that on your Facebook.” But you didn’t know they knew because not everyone comments. Some people just lurk about. That’s kind of creepy, right?
Like a million other people, I really want to delete my Facebook since I hardly go on there anymore, but it’s now the only way people invite each other to parties. In the 90s, people told you when their next party was going to be. You had to, like, remember dates and stuff. No Blackberry reminders. It’s weird how fast everything has changed! (Okay now I sound like an old lady).
2. J17 and Seventeen Magazine
My Mum used to bring back a copy of Seventeen for me whenever she went to the US on business. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d seen in my life. In the 90s, films and TV shows and bands and other stuff started in the US first. I loved hearing about everything before everyone else. Plus, they had a section where they would take pictures of all the different cliques in a real high school, and everyone would talk about what they were wearing. So many of these kids had a really individual style, and I used to wish I went to a school where you didn’t have to wear a uniform.
When I was fifteen, I used to buy J17 every Wednesday. I loved it. It gave me advice about things I was too shy to ask my family about. It was really feminist, too. In some ways it was better than Seventeen magazine because it had short stories and straight-up sex advice.
3. Fun, girl-centric sitcoms
(left – right Mayim Bialik, who starred in ‘Blossom’ and Melissa Joan Hart, who starred in ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’)
This may be just the nostalgia talking, but I think that the 90s were a time when there were tons of sitcoms with a teen girl protagonist. Now there’s Hannah Montana (is it still going, or has Miley Cyrus retired?) which I think is ace! – I can’t think of any others. In the 90s, there was of course the grungy, angsty and amazing (apart from the parents scenes) My So-Called Life, but there were so many sitcoms! I liked Sabrina the Teenage Witch – my favourite Auntie was Hilda. The fashion on that show was so awesomely 90s. The other fashion forward sitcom was Blossom. Her and her best friend Six would wear floppy velvet hats and suits and dungarees with equal panache. In one episode of Blossom, she gets her first period and has to buy tampons but there’s a cute guy working as a cashier at the pharmacy – Awkward!
There are lots of famous models who are around now – and shows like America’s Next Top Model and The Model Agency are addictive viewing, but the Supermodels in the 1990s were like rock stars. Linda Evangelista was quoted in Vogue as saying “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day”. They were so cool!
When I first found out about zines, it was the happiest time ever! Zines are like mini-magazines you make yourself – and tons of people did just that before the dawning of the internet. Kathleen Hanna, the lead singer of Bikini Kill, made a zine all about Riot Grrrl and it helped kick start the girl-punk movement as more people got to find out about it. I remember going to Philly and looking at all the zines that punk girls had made about their messy, fun lives. There was a zine I loved about three girls who went on a huge bike trip all summer. Compilation zines, feminist zines, fun zines – they had self-expression in common. I still make zines every now and then but it’s way easier to keep a blog. After you’ve finished writing, you have to put all the pages together, and then photocopy the whole thing, and then collate and fold and staple, and then distribute – it takes time! Maybe people had more time in the 90s?
Here is Kathleen Hanna talking about zines and blogging:
I love her!
PS. Oh yeah and this:
Coming soon: What I hated about the 90s and still hate now!