Sunday, 7 March 2010

Face the past

*picture heavy post*

One of the things that fuelled my obsession with make-up when I was growing up was teen magazines and annuals. Though I was still far from being a teenager in the mid to late 80s, I had female relatives and family friends who were aged between 15 and 21 and who all seemed impossibly glamorous to me. I would snaffle their back issues of Blue Jeans, My Guy and Just 17 as often as I could.

The Blue Jeans annual of 1984 was one of my particular favourites and I would spend hours studying the photo love stories, problem pages, beauty tips and fashion. I could not wait to be 18 when I would be able to live my life as I wanted, and what I wanted was a life based on the Blue Jeans annual, 1984. I wanted stripes of tawny blusher, lurid blue eyeshadow and frosted pink lips. I wanted a curly perm sculpted into an immovable style and enhanced with plastic hoop earrings. I wanted to be a sophisticated woman. When I eventually did reach 18 in 1995, that dream had been long forgotten.

Then a few years ago a surge of nostalgia had me searching Ebay for Blue Jeans and My Guy annuals of the 80s. I struck gold and I now have a small collection of these wonderful windows into my own past, including the much beloved Blue Jeans Annual, 1984.

The make-up image that made a massive impression on me and which most made me want to track down a copy of the 1984 tome was this one (click pics to enlarge):

It was so trendy and exciting and rebellious yet pretty. I wanted the different coloured pencils and shadows used in the feature and I felt sure I would look just as 'good' if I recreated the masterpiece, despite the fact I had no make-up skills, the podgy, freckled face of a 7-year-old and an ill-advised short hair cut gelled into spikes that made me look more masculine than my own brother. It makes me smile that this style of make-up has recently resurfaced, with pencil skills and eye masks demos-a-plenty on YouTube.

My small collection of annuals from the decade that style forgot yields much to amuse. Makeovers turned 15-year-old girls into middle aged women, face charts showed ridiculous blusher apparently applied using a set square. It also shows a more innocent time, when celebrities were not so airbrushed and far removed from normality and heart throbs were ancient by today's Jonas Brothers standards.

Look at the heart throb poster from My Guy in the bottom left of the collage - it's the bloke who used to be married to Gail in Corrie. He really could have been the guy next door, or a gas fitter you might have met in the pub on a Friday night. Next to him is a double page spread of a fan meeting her heart throb - Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17. That sort of set up now produces a 28 part series on MTV.

These annuals also included features where it seems the editor said 'Ok, we've got some full colour pages to fill. What can we come up with?'. There is more than a whiff of the ridiculous about this feature on dog grooming but then I remember a girl of my age who lived nect door to my nan and routinely dressed her Yorkshire Terrier in baby clothes and pushed him around in a pram. Even at 6, I knew she was not my kind of person.


Back to beauty and I fondly remember those features that told you how to make your own face masks from cucumber, yoghurt and wheatgerm (cue me: 'Muuuum, it's not faiiiiir, why don't you ever buy any wheatgeeeeerm'). Or the recommendation to wash your hair with eggs for strength and shine. A great idea until I managed to turn my best friend's hair into a scrambled egg nightmare by using hot water to rinse. One of my annuals includes illustrated features on blusher placement to shape your face and facial exercises to prevent aging. This sort of gentle advice was later usurped by More magazine's charming 'Position of the Fortnight':

I think I've also narrowed down where one of the greatest make-up crimes originated. The advice has obviously been passed from one generation to the next, as this still seems prevalent today:

If make-up was the opposite of subtle then hair was also determined to be memorable. As I recall, the 80s was the birthplace of wet look gel, mousse, scrunching, Sun-in and hair mascara. I had some hair mascara and it basically made you look as if you hadn't bothered to wash after helping your dad emulsion the kitchen ceiling.

Behold this triumvirate of beauties demonstrating the merits of curly perms, hair mascara, mousse, gel and all-round, highly flammable hair dos. I actually think the middle one looks quite contemporary as the hair mascara looks like grey highlights and the make-up is pretty edgy. I don't think I'll be sporting it in the office though.

Finally, it was not just the fashion and beauty of the 80s I aspired to. Some teen magazines also included recipes and sewing or knitting patterns. I was not particularly nifty with a needle and thread (I WAS only 7) but the Blue Jeans Annual 1984 also included this:

A feature on how to make cushions that look like cakes! This seemed like the best thing ever to me at the time and I suggested to my Mum that she might like to make some to go with our new three piece suite. To my great surprise, she did not leap on the idea. Funny, because I'm now about the age she was, and I still think a cushion that looks like a chocolate eclair would be brilliant.


  1. Aw - this has really struck a chord with me! I remember my sister and I spending hours making 'junk jewellery' out of the plastic toys from Christmas crackers, oversized buttons, sticklebricks and other random tat because the Jackie Annual 1982 told us it was a good look!
    Katy xxxxxxx

  2. i remember buying some earrings that were plastic coated jelly babies and some polo ones like Su Pollard had. happy days! xxxx