Vanity Fair's 'raining teens' cover was a millennial dream. Behind the scenes, it was a nightmare.

Millennials can be divided into two camps: people who think the most ambitious crossover in history was the Marvel superhero movies, and the rest of us, who know it was the 'It's Totally Raining Teens!' cover of Vanity Fair.

Now this was a cultural reset. On this fateful day in 2003, the most influential names in teen pop culture converged.

This was our moon landing; it was a millennial masterpiece.

This is my Roman Empire. Image: Vanity Fair


Dressed in soft pinks and '00s fashion staples like silk cargo pants and long metallic tops, nine iconic teens — Amanda Bynes, Mandy Moore, Hilary Duff, Alexis Bledel, Evan Rachel Wood, Raven-Symoné, Lindsay Lohan, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen — came together for one epic photo shoot.

The tectonic plates shifted that day.

These then-teens would become women who still dominate pop culture to this day, and this photoshoot captured a moment in time that was arguably never replicated: a time when teens ruled every facet of pop culture.

But was the photoshoot itself as glamourous as the resulting cover? Well, according to the women in it — who are now very much adults — it was a low-key disaster from the very beginning.

Mandy Moore has shared that there was "a lot of teenage drama" on the set between the young women. 

"A lot of teenage drama, for sure," she told Valeria Lipovetsky’s podcast. "There was a fight over a boy, I wanna say, between two people. I don't even remember who. I remember feeling like a real outlier and outsider — like, I am not a part of the cool kids' club."

Moore went on to say that, at the time, "one of the Olsen twins" had a crush on her then-boyfriend, tennis superstar Andy Roddick. "I just remember feeling really cool about that," she joked.


Mandy Moore and Andy Roddick in 2003. Image: Getty. 

Moore and Roddick didn't last long, but she has maintained a tight friendship with one of the cover stars: Hilary Duff. 

"We laugh about that all the time," said Moore. "We were such babies then... One day we'll be able to show our kids, like, 'Isn't this so funny? We knew each other back then, and now look at us.'"


Back in 2022, Duff reflected on the moment during a Vanity Fair interview and agreed that the day itself wasn't the teenage dream it appeared to be. "I remember being like, 'This is cool I was included in this... [but it was a] very high-stress, anxiety-inducing day."

Evan Rachel Wood hasn't been shy about sharing how terrible the experience was for her back when she was a teen., either Back in 2014, the actress tweeted about the cultural milestone. "I was almost in tears after this shoot. They tried that dress on me, I wasn't comfortable but they told me there was no time… cause everyone else took up too much time with their fittings.

"I was 15 and felt for the first time my identity being erased and the pressure…to shut up and do what you are told. I felt like meat. Since then, I have found my voice. Never again."

Lindsay Lohan didn't speak poorly about the shoot in a 2022 Vogue interview, but did state that if it happened in 2024, changes would need to be made. "I mean, if you think about getting all of these actresses in a room today and just hanging out together, I feel like it'd be so different," she noted.

So, there you have it. Turns out our treasured childhood memory was a nightmare in reality.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Feature image: Vanity Fair.

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