Dolly taught you what an orgasm was. Cleo taught you how to have one. Cosmo taught you how to fake one.
I first heard that joke told by Peter Fitzsimmons, husband of Dolly’s iconic editor, Lisa Wilkinson and I’ve told it myself many times since. I do it to illustrate a point that can be hard for anyone under 30 to understand: before the Internet, before social media and texting, magazines were how women created communities.
We evolved through different titles according to our age and the information we needed about our lives. Because quite simply – and this is important – you couldn’t get that information anywhere else.
Click through to see some of our all-time favourite Dolly Magazine covers. (Post continues…)
Information about sex, our bodies, relationships, boyfriends, STDs, pregnancy, abortion, pimples, domestic violence, eating disorders, celebrities, make-up, contraception, friendships, career, feminism, fashion……light and shade, frivolous and life-saving, helpful and intensely personal. Women’s magazines have always held a special place for Australian women of a certain age and none more so than Dolly.
For those of us in our thirties and forties and even fifties, Dolly was everything. A life-line. A best friend. A glimpse into our future. A confessor. A teacher. A big sister.
I had none of those things when I started reading Dolly and Dolly provided them all. I would have been about 11 or 12 and Dolly seemed impossibly glamorous and exciting and I counted down the days until the next issue arrived at my local newsagent. Lisa Wilkinson was the editor and she looked like this at the time:
I was instantly smitten. Back then, in the 80s, editors weren't imposing figures of impossible glamour. Lisa was real. Lisa was a regular girl with a dream job: editing the most influential magazine for girls in Australia.
Of course in many ways she wasn't regular at all. She landed that job aged 21 which was unheard of at the time and has never happened since. Lisa was a wunderkind; gifted with a talent for understanding what girls and women wanted simply by looking through their eyes and staying true to her roots as a suburban girl from Campbelltown who had never gone to uni.
Lisa was my hero. I fell in love with magazines and with her. Dolly Doctor, in particular, under Lisa's leadership, became the primary source of sex and health education for millions of Australian girls (and smart boys who snuck their sister's copies).