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A Letter to New Moon

Lizzy Shramko

Dear New Moon,

Before there was Rookie, the site that has become eponymous with the teenage girl experience, there was you, the Duluth-based, girl-centric, multicultural, all around badass magazine, New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams. Your Minnesotan publication was created by and for girls, complete with a Girls Editorial Board and young contributors. You had the “Ask a Girl” column where young women wrote in for guidance from other readers. It contained no judgmental Abigail Van Buren and no shaming narratives framed around relationship advice. Young women like Jessie from Rotterdam, New York or Alice from Lexington, Massachusetts would keep it real and give some honest feedback about navigating the treacherous terrain of life as a young woman.

 

Each month you had a theme like “Fantasies and Fairytales” or “Space and Time Travel” — themes that tapped into the imaginative and expansive world views of the young women, like me, who read, wrote for and dreamt about New Moon.

You also covered the diversity of people’s experiences. Your magazine is the first place I read about queer relationships and the first place I found an examination of gender that was coupled with an analyses of race, class and ablebodiedism. You had some banging creative writing (in multiple languages) and visual artwork, all created by young women like me. You were like a one-stop shop for smart, eclectic and nerdy young people like me — people that were not represented in the pages of magazines like Seventeen or even the beloved Sassy.

But you were equally awesome for what you didn’t cover as much as what you did. You didn’t waste time dwelling on preoccupations about boys, body size and fashion. Fuck. That. You didn’t make me feel self conscious about the color of my leggings or give me bizarre DIY remedies for acne that would (literally) blow up in my face.

Instead you asked hard-hitting questions like “Which fairy tales show girls as strong, positive characters?” or “If you could be any kind of animal what would you be and why?”

As much as I loved combing through Delia*s catalogs and taking those weird Cosmo-esque relationship quizzes as an 11-year-old, you were a publication that made me think about things that were important to me like which constellation was my favorite or what kind of science I liked the best. And if I really craved a fashion fix you held it down with some dope merch like sweatshirts, tote bags and friendship-mending dreampillow kits.

While you still exist today, to me you will always be the New Moon of my childhood. What follows is a personal scrapbook of my favorite moments with you, stolen from my sister’s collection, which spans the years of 1994-1998.

Kudos to your dope swag. Back in the day you had the merch game on lock. From styling tees to feminist reading material to dolphin necklaces, you held it down in the style department

 You showed me what third wave feminism before I even knew about the waves of feminism. This story on Julie Dash prepared me to talk about Daughters of the Dust a decade before I started college.

 


Fuck boys. You taught me to take my relationships with other girls seriously, evidenced by your how-to guide on building friendship memory boxes and seashell frames to hold photos of me and my bestie. Your "Draw Luna" section gave readers like me the opportunity to sketch representations of what Luna, the mythical woman behind New Moon, might look like, complete with some pretty phenomenal creative writing. 

Spin and Rolling Stone had nothing on your in-depth music journalism, including coverage of Lilith Fair staples like Sarah McLachlan, Jewel and (a personal favorite) Meredith Brooks (this is your cue to search "Bitch" on YouTube while no one's looking.) Even though you shied away superficial coverage of trends you still provided burgeoning feminist fashionistas with some garment inspiration complete with nuanced points from girls like Larkin who shared that she didn't particularly care about clothes most of the time, but she "likes bonnets". (Also, peep Megan's statement-making outfit of choice).

Finally, to demonstrate how much of an impact you had on my life and the people I care about, I am including an undated letter written to you by my sister, Maura Shramko, found recently in my childhood closet. The text reads: "Dear New Moon, I like to read comic books even though they're sexsist [sic]. I believe in womens [sic] rights, but I like comic books."

So there you have it New Moon, you have left your indelible mark on a grown up feminist. Considering how batshit crazy the world has become, this letter was an attempt to recreate the impact that you — a little magazine that could from the North Shore of Minnesota — had on my life. You planted seeds of hope and inspiration into the hearts of young girls like me, seeds that would come to be suppressed as my civil liberties, reproductive freedoms, and general human worth were called into question over the years by shitty bosses, elected officials and the very society that you taught me to value. But in my heart, even though I am a jaded adult, the New Moon of yesteryear will always be a place where this girl's dreams thrive.

Love,
A Grown Up Feminist

Can't even wait for the MCAD Art Sale

Curio Cabinet: Part I