Yep, we’re back at it again with rifling through our old Dolly magazines from the 2000s.
But yes, we’re back – this time with the wildest, often extremely problematic stories, from advice for teens involving bleaching your own face to frequent reference to looking “skanky”.
COURTNEY: So one thing that I’ve noticed in these old Dolly mags is that there’s some really…questionable stories in there. I’ll admit I absolutely glossed over a lot of this stuff when I was in my teens, but looking back – hoo boy. What were the ethical practices on reporting in the 2000s? Were there even any? There’s definitely some corkers in there that are just little paragraphs of frankly terrible dating advice, but also right up to very frankly talking about cases of sexual assault. Some stuff I’m just like “wow how did they print this???”
MEL: Okay so you told me this, and then I properly looked at some of the stories in my old Dolly mags. It VERY much shows how far we’ve come when talking about women! I do want to say though that I also found some super progressive stuff – it wasn’t all bad, there were some amazing articles that championed female empowerment and breaking down sexist stereotypes. But who cares about those! We’re here for the tea. Feast your eyes on this:
COURT: oh my god. “What make a girl a skank” Dolly, are you OKAY?
MEL: I know, like why are we even asking this question? I know why – it was 2003 or whatever 00s year it was. That’s how magazines were! Insanity.
COURT: How’s this dating advice though. I mean, this is just not going to work. Also “Eye Toy: Play” has flung me back to 2004 so quick it’s given me whiplash. No wonder I didn’t date anyone until after high school.
MEL: Imagine just banging on this poor gamer’s door and then he opens it, and you start yelling in his face MEGAPIXELS! BANDWIDTH!
COURT: “Uhh hey so you can take a megabyte outta me huehuehuehue.”
MEL: “Lure him to your home.” Okay…. no.
COURT: DO NOT DO THIS. So I know we visited Kyle Sandilands’ columns/fashion in our piece about who the fuck all the dudes were in the old Dolly mags but can we please just take a moment to actually LOOK at what he was WRITING?
COURT: He’s the original Curvy Wife Guy.
MEL: Nooooo I mean I can’t say I’m surprised. Forever The Worst. I guess it’s (bear with me) KIND of nice, given this was the time of skinny models and skinny celebs, there was no Kardashian worship. I can see where they were going here but it’s also KYLE.
COURT: I will never eat a steak and salad with Kyle. Hahah,
MEL: Ok so this is so typical of 00s womens magazines, but I still can’t get over how obsessed we used to be with luring men.
COURT: ANDY RODDICK HAHAHAH! Oh wait there was something I saw as well about “hunting boys” by going to their “spots”. Ah yes, going to go and find my grease-stained husband at the fish and chip shop.
MEL: YES. Such a common 00s article, loiter in boring areas to hopefully make a boy notice you, ideally without considering you to be a stalker.
COURT: DO NOT talk to Fish & Chip boy about vegan food, that WILL kill the vibe.
MEL: I have to admit, I definitely hung around skate ramps watching guys try and ollie while also completely ignoring me in the process.
COURT: Hahaha, me too. And I do know all the lyrics to ‘Heaven Is A Halfpipe’.
MEL: My favourite embarrassing teen story is when I watched a guy I liked play footy in TORRENTIAL RAIN, without an umbrella, as thought it was normal to sit on squelchy grass with my two other friends who had crushes on guys in the team.
COURT: And how badly did you get sick after that one, Mel.
MEL: What’s a mild flu when there’s potential glances your way on offer? Okay so there was PLENTY of “here are some 5/10 dudes telling you how to live your life if you ever hope to find a boyfriend” articles, but this grinded my gears:
MEL: BEING A BIT SLUTTY.
COURT: Oh my FUCK I hate this.
MEL: Girls, don’t like, dance on the table at that 18th because you will suddenly become a slut!
COURT: It’s a slippery, slutty slope. But also like do whatever the fuck you want mate, who cares.
MEL: What is the party sweet spot I wonder. I bet it’s drinking one (1) watermelon cruiser and doing a soft gyrate to Milkshake.
COURT: Ed, Jase and Harrison, I hope you’re embarrassed by this terrible, terrible advice.
MEL: OMG they had another corker in the same article.
MEL: MANLY. FEATURES. I literally want to find these three boys and make them eat this page.
COURT: God forbid we like footy more than them, ahaha. Jesus christ.
MEL: I need to understand what they constituted as “manly features”.
COURT: Like…one (1) muscle. An ab.
MEL: Oh no, my girlfriend has developed a single ab, it’s over
COURT: Just sadly shuffling up to your high school partner and solemnly telling them that you’re dumping them because they can light heavier weights than you.
MEL: I hope if that ever happened to a poor tee girl who enjoyed sports, she punched the guy in the dick.
COURT: Ok what have we learned so far: be sporty but not too athletic, be a saucy minx but not slutty, be curvy but not fat, be in the right place but also say the right things – literally none of this makes sense. No wonder why we were all so awkward and confused.
MEL: This killed me – this is an ask-the-psychic section, and the psychic straight up tells this girl her crush is STRUGGLING SPECIFICALLY WITH READING A BOOK.
MEL: I’m imagining this girl reading the answer, then cornering the poor boy in the school corridor to passionately tell him she will help him with his reading.
COURT: And being like “Look I know your Dad’s being hard on you about school stuff…” And he’s just like ?????? what the fuck.
MEL: “My dad left the family when I was 5, Nicky.”
COURT: Nicky from Brewarrina, how could you. Also imagine being identified here and everyone at school like, instantly knowing it’s you.
MEL: HELL on Earth.
COURT: Oh my god I’ve found a whole page on how to kiss. I’m screaming.
MEL: AAAGH! “If he does put his tongue in your mouth, gently touch it with yours.”
COURT: “The first step to remember when kissing a guy is to make sure he’s not the fifth you’ve had that night.” WHAT. W H A T.
MEL: I hate this so much. Why are we opening with SLUT SHAMING?
COURT: I will smooch as many people as I like thank you very much DOLLY.
MEL: On to your looks:
MEL: On one hand, I see what they were trying to do here – hey! It’s ok to have pimples because so do celebs. On the other, why are we CIRCLING PEOPLE’S ACNE.
COURT: Ah, a classic of the genre.
MEL: Also we were really obsessed with the term “skanky” huh.
MEL: Imagine calling an outfit skanky in 2020, you’d be ripped to internet shreds.
COURT: Cancelled, immediately. Shadow-banned.
MEL: There was plenty of image-based shaming going on, look at this advice for facial hair:
MEL: Facial hair is “not a great look”?? This is how I ended up in a panic over my very Greek moustache.
COURT: How about this whole double-page spread about bikini lines and making sure that NOBODY KNOWS YOU HAVE PUBES.
COURT: With tips to bleach the hair on your face and arms. BLEACH. AT HOME. YOUR FACE. NO. NONONONO.
MEL: Anything involving at home hair removal on your vag seems like a terrible set of advice for anyone under 18, shout out to 14 year old me who tried to wax her bikini line and ended up spending 30 minutes trying to soak the wax off.
COURT: I remember a friend once tried to wax her brows, made the wax too hot, and burnt the skin between her eyebrows. Like, it fully scabbed and everything.
MEL: Oh my GOD.
COURT: No good, the poor thing.
MEL: More questionable beauty advice – SPF 15+??? IN THE DIRECT SUN???
COURT: HAHAH. “Ahh 15+ will do”.
MEL: To be fair I don’t think we had the education around sunscreen back in the 00s that we do now, but CHRIST.
COURT: And I wonder why I accepted the fact that getting a horrible sunburn minimum once every summer. Like, it was fine? I knew it would happen? Fucking hell.
MEL: Mate I used to lie in the sun with that tanning oil all over myself. At sixteen. Thanks past me for the yearly melanoma check I need to do now. Okay so I also had two wild “real life stories” I wanted to share.
MEL: I did feel that Dolly did a great job of representing the mix of young people in Australia, but I also just wonder about the placement of this story… next to what was a page on “eating wisely” or something.
COURT: Oh no. Oh NO.
MEL: Like in and of itself – fine??? I think? Like IDK if in 2020 we’d be showing teens dramatic weight loss stories given the tendency toward bulimia/anorexia and body image issues but it’s also not necessarily a demonic feature. Just the PLACEMENT. Was wild.
COURT: Also just quietly…Is this an ad for Weight Watchers?
MEL: YES, I was wondering that too! The weblink! I can’t tell for sure. I think they would have had to write “advertorial” if it was, but who knows.
COURT: I feel like it might be like, sly advertising testimonial for WW. Which is a whole other issue entirely. Another thing that wilds me out to no end is the fact that there’s these 100% Reality and My Story pieces that got published despite there being an active court case around it? I found one from back in 2005 about a guy’s dad who had sex with his son’s FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD GIRLFRIEND, and the statutory rape/sex with a minor case was still open? Absolutely not. You’d get dragged over the coals for contempt of court if you did something like that now.
MEL: Oh my god, no. How did that get through! And especially wild given magazines back then saw features go through sub editors, editors, the works before hitting the stands. Maybe the rules were different?
COURT: Surely. Or someone got very, very fired.
MEL: Another one I had was the “pregnant at 15” story:
MEL: I actually like this kind of “teen life is different for everyone!” content but there were a LOT of these stories. I found three in about 8 issues all up.
COURT: How’s this one about self-defence – good to know the approach of “don’t walk alone at night” is still the go-to literally 15 years later. Also Jesus Christ did we need a Dolly Callout text on the edge of the page there? That’s iN LeTtErS aLl LiKe tHiS????
MEL: At least they acknowledge that flirting isn’t grounds for someone to sexually assault you! I actually find that quite progressive – they’re pretty like, punch them in the face about it. I enjoy violently attacking sexual predators.
COURT: Absolutely. But also “if blanking him doesn’t work, tell him your boyfriend is in a shop nearby” hahaha fuck.
MEL: Hahahaha oh god. Also OMG the Dolly Callout texts were all time! But yes agree, not on this page. But in general – what a vibe.
COURT: We could have a whole other story JUST on those Callout texts. Which I always so desperately wanted to feature in.
MEL: Agree. Ok so I need to discuss a few HIGHLY suss ads that ran through Dolly. My, god. This supre one which is like, wait are you guys assaulting that woman?
COURT: Is she trying to cut her singlet off with huge scissors?
COURT: What the fuck is going on there?
MEL: While two men hold her down. What on earth?
COURT: [insert 400 red flags here].
MEL: Also this EXTREMELY sexual tampon ad:
MEL: Like what? How many teens are picking up on the sexual innuendo of “what goes inside us”? And my fave, the Caboodles ad that was literally promoting killing your boyfriend for watching TV too much:
COURT: JERK SALSA.
MEL: I have to say I fucking love this ad and if I were a mag editor in 2020, I’d allow it. Maybe not for teenagers though.
COURT: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME HAHAHA!
MEL: “Jerk Salsa” filled with NAIL POLISH.
COURT: Nail polish and a bottle of hot sauce. Yum yum. Can we please also not forget this one last absolute gem, of a bucket list of things to do before you turn 18.
COURT: Including donating to charity (nice, good) and throwing up in public to humiliate yourself (????)
MEL: Dead over “be nice to your parents” at the end there.
COURT: Also reading War & Peace – some nice, light reading for youths. Normel.
MEL: Just going to casually read my tome on the bus here.
COURT: Oh this? Don’t mind me I’m just going through these ancient manuscripts at brunch. I love that “plan a holiday with your friends” suggests pitching a tent by the beach which is not at all extremely illegal.
MEL: Also “shock people!” With a mini skirt!
COURT: Please note the Callout text on the side there, I’m so surprised it wasn’t from me.