I wish I could remember exactly how I convinced my parents that I needed a subscription to Vogue when I was 13. The lone grocery store in my town didn't even carry it, so I'm not sure how I got the idea that I should have a subscription. Had I even read it before? I don't even know.
I was a very new subscriber when I opened the shrink wrap on an issue in 2000 only to find a second special magazine inside. It was called Teen Vogue.
At this point, I was beginning to outgrow Seventeen, which I'd started reading when I was 11, after having outgrown Girl's Life magazine. Reading Vogue was hilariously ambitious for me at 13; I tried to read the articles, but most were way too high brow for junior high me. I mostly just memorized the faces of models and the names of socialites. Teen Vogue turned out to be much more relevant to my life (though it was still deeply aspirational).
That first issue is permanently etched into my brain. Jessica Simpson was on the cover, looking truly beautiful draped in a cream sweater (and draped on a boy bander, Nick Lachey). This was pre-Newlyweds. It was also pre-wedding, which means it was also pre-marital sex, or any sex at all, though the interview by EIC Amy Astley doesn't get remotely close to addressing that. Instead, the two mostly talked fashion.
My favorite part, other than when Jessica says she likes Frankie B. and Earl jeans because "they ride low on the hips, which looks good," is when she talks about mall fashion. "Bebe. They definitely have some cute stuff," she says.
I'd never heard of Bebe at the time, but shortly after this issue was published, I went to Dallas to visit family and found myself inside a Bebe store with my cousin. I didn't get anything, since I didn't have anywhere to wear glittery one-shouldered going-out tops as a teen in rural Missouri. But my very cosmopolitan cousin had loads of it in her closet, and I was so jealous I could have died. She also memorably pronounced it like "beh beh," which is still something I think about way too often.
In addition to Jess, the cover also touts Enrique Inglesias (who seems very old???), 98*, Mandy Moore, Britney Spears, and Paul Walker (may he rest in peace). There's also party pages—a big thing for grown-up Vogue at the time, less so now—from Kidada Jones' birthday at Guy's in Beverly Hills. Josh Hartnett was there with Gisele and Carmen (remember Carmen?), Samantha Ronson DJed (some things never change!), and Nicky and Paris Hilton looked bored as hell on their phones. That spread is followed by something called "Boy Watch," essentially a bunch of random red carpet pictures of grown men: Jason Biggs, Josh Jackson, even Kid Rock, who was apparently dating James King at the time.
Iconic is an overused word, but that's exactly what this copy of Teen Vogue is. To me, at least; everyone's "iconic" is different. If you haven't had enough of Jessica Simpson, or this special issue, or me ranting about magazines that were published 19 years ago, you just might enjoy this video I recorded. (No promises, though!)