Vale Dolly, the teenage bible we not only loved but also needed

Dolly, we'll miss you!

Dolly, we'll miss you!

On Wednesday Bauer Media announced the closure of the print edition of Dolly, the magazine that, for the past 46 years has been something of a sacred text for pubescent girls.

Well, perhaps not the entire 46 years. By the end of the last decade it was becoming plain that the media landscape had changed and that most young women - indeed most people - were getting their information online.

Bauer CEO Nick Chan acknowledged this, saying in a press release that it was "no longer feasible to continue publishing the magazine on a regular basis."

The final edition will be published on December 5 and even though its closing was inevitable, nostalgic tributes littered social media feeds, and many high profile media personalities, former editors, Lisa Wilkinson and Mia Freedman included, rightly expressed their debt to Dolly for giving them their headstart.

READ MORE: Dolly magazine to stop print editions after 45 years

It's difficult to conceptualise just how influential the magazine was. A quick glance at the "iconic" covers reveal a sweet earnestness; there's Nicole Kidman with her frizzy red hair in 1983; there's Kate Fischer, resplendent in white skivvy, the Dolly cover girl of 1988; (Miranda Kerr won in 1997 and Jess Hart took the Guernsey in 2000 – all three women would go on to grace the cover of Vogue).

The cover lines, bursting with an untouched enthusiasm for "spunks" and "crushes" and "hotties" belie the authority the magazine had over generations of young women, myself among them.

Donlly was a girl's best friend.

Donlly was a girl's best friend.

To understand the pang of nostalgia so many of us are feeling today, you have to go back to a time when electronic media simply did not exist. No DMs, no emails, no Facebook, no Snapchat, not even texts. You can't talk on the phone for very long because it's a landline, and to hog it was to block all communication from the outside. 

If you wanted a detailed brief on how to properly conduct yourself as a teenage girl so as to minimise humiliation and the inevitable ridicule that would, as sure as the grim reaper, visit you, then the best you could hope for was a truth or dare session at a slumber party between your 11th and 13th year.

If you had a burning question about boys or your body or your feelings; or the impending horror of bleeding, often without warning, once a damn month, you had a magazine with a winsome teenager on the cover to answer your pleas.

This A4-sized glossy was overflowing with intel and the comforting promise that your aching adolescent needs– sometimes ones you didn't know you had – would find solutions therein. If not in an article, then via vox pop, where up to a dozen young men with varying skin conditions could express their preference for a girl "with a good sense of humour, and a bit of meat on her bones."

Ad Feedback

And you could read those words and finally exhale at night.

But by far, the most riveting and informative section was Dolly Doctor, who should win the Pulitzer Prize for how often she answered some amalgam of the question, "Äm I Normal?"

Many have credited Dolly Doctor as properly explaining sex. As a young teen, you knew the biology of it, but the choreography, the context, the clear and present fear of a penis - these were major concerns. This is why people collected the magazine for years, you needed those back issues in case a problem arose later on and then you could refer back to January 1991 and someone on staff at Dolly could tell you how to live.

Of course the fashion was aspirational. Denim jackets were trés casual and just that little bit sexy. The makeup section provided foundational knowledge – Dudette, you'd be crazy to leave the house without sunscreen. The health section informed you that bananas were a-ok! Then there were the celebrities.

Of course we all wanted to be Alison Brahe – she wasn't just a model who projected a modest charm, she. Was. Married. To. Cameron Daddo! They were the Camelot of our time.

I know Dolly still lives online, and that is as it should be. Girls in the trenches of adolescence should be able get information whenever they need it, not just once a month. They need it from a variety of sources, too - all the better to be informed. It's also much easier to foster a community online, just as it's easier, (and more cut-throat) to hold a modelling competition on TV.

But, like I said, we didn't have that, and so we cherished what was put in front of us. Vale, Dolly.

 - Sydney Morning Herald


Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback