1950 s dating advice
‘It speaks of a universal struggle every kid understands, and every adult can remember, too – and it’s a struggle most of us still encounter in daily life,’ Lazar says.Van Wagenen is an intelligent and at times achingly funny observer.At 15 Van Wagenen is now the youngest non-actor to make a feature deal with a film studio and has been hailed by Time magazine as one of the most influential teenagers in America.It is a dizzying turn of events for a girl who says she thought the best-case scenario was that her journal might, one day, be published as an essay.Cornell’s vintage advice has clearly stayed with her protégée: Van Wagenen is unfailingly polite and cheerful and looks nothing like the bespectacled, brace-wearing ugly duckling of eighth grade.Wearing a black-and-white polka dot blouse, black crop trousers, pearl earrings and a pearl necklace, her glossy brown hair neatly brushed back and her pretty face unadorned with make-up save for mascara and a slick of red lip gloss, her dress encodes old-fashioned preppiness.In contrast her mother, who is 42 but looks much younger, has a slightly bohemian style and brings to mind Frida Kahlo, without the monobrow.Van Wagenen had no idea she was going to write her testimonial to teenage status anxiety when she came across Cornell’s book hidden among various clutter at home.
It’s such a private thing, a personal journey, a journal, and then all of a sudden it’s just…’ She trails off. We are sitting, the three of us, in a restaurant in New York in late April, on the day, Van Wagenen tells me, that Betty Cornell turns 86.Youth is a powerful promotional tool and Van Wagenen’s age and the teenage docudrama aspect of Popular make her an attractive proposition, but as Lazar points out, ‘When I first read Maya’s voice I was thrilled to see she was truly a writer.This wasn’t just a stunt.’ Her voice is assured and funny and the personal journey she tells resonates with readers of all ages.(‘Fads come and go,’ Cornell writes, ‘but a simple string of small pearls is still a girl’s best friend.’) Could a self-described ‘gawky, slouchy and just a little bit lumpy’ teenager use a 1950s playbook to gain acceptance from the nines and 10s in her large, rather scary state school in Brownsville, Texas?This was the quest Van Wagenen set herself, each night reporting on her progress in her diary, no matter how painful or humiliating.