Sweet Valley High goes on a diet

The fluffy 1980s teen fiction series updates itself -- by making its heroines even skinnier.

Topics: Broadsheet, Eating Disorders, Love and Sex,

I never read Sweet Valley High books. And I’m not being snobby here; I wish I had. I feel as though I missed out on a cultural moment of the 1980s, as if I were in the bathroom when Michael Jackson first did the moonwalk. The lightweight, juicy paperbacks about twins Jessica and Elizabeth may have had the nutritive value of frosting on fudge, but they were the guilty pleasure of nearly every 1980s middle-school girl. Back then, we didn’t have “The Hills” and “Gossip Girl.” We had to walk a mile in a row of card catalogs just to find a cheap, tawdry sex scene.



Not surprisingly, given the success of “Gossip Girl” (remember, before it was a TV show, it was a hugely profitable young-adult book series), Random House is rereleasing Sweet Valley High for the 21st century tween. To drum up publicity, it sent out a notice highlighting a few changes, which Gawker has reprinted on its site. Instead of a red Fiat, the twins are driving a Jeep Wrangler. There will, of course, be a gossip blog, on which much catty drama will ensue. But here’s the part that’s just disgusting and why we’re offering this whole nostalgia blast in the first place: In 1983, the twins wore a “perfect size 6.” In 2008, the twins are now a “perfect size 4.” Because nothing completes the outfit of today’s fashionable young girl like an eating disorder! It’s frustrating, not to mention gross, that Random House actually touted this change in its P.R. material, as if it were some sign of progress. And I guess it is a sign of some kind of progress — that no matter how unrealistic the blond, plastic heroines of my childhood were, the bodies of today’s heroines are just that much harder to attain.

Sarah Hepola is an editor at Salon.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    "Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>