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    Updated on Sep 9, 2020. Posted on Sep 5, 2020

    32 Extremely Specific Back-To-School Things Every Late-’90s Teenage Girl Did

    Back when the only makeup tutorials around were the ones that came inside YM magazine!

    by ,

    1. Immediately grabbing either a JanSport or Eastpak when picking out a new backpack during your back-to-school supplies shopping:

    jansport.com, etsy.com

    Anything other than that was just uncool. Unless you lived on the East Coast, where you probably owned an L.L. Bean monogrammed one.

    2. Making sure you picked up some Sharpies and Wite-Out pens (that really weren't for school, but actually so you could customize your backpack):

    3. Also making sure you picked up a slip-front binder, 'cause it was the easiest binder to customize — all you needed was to slip in some personal photos and magazine cutouts to totally make it your own:

    A white slip-front binder

    4. And picking up a pack of these dividers in order to ~organize~ the inside of your binder (really they just ended up being doodle pads):

    A packet of binder dividers with different different color tabs and it labeled A, B, C, D, E

    5. Getting a new day planner (which you knew by week two of school you wouldn't even use):

    A pink, blue, and purple Lisa Frank day planner

    6. And immediately filling your day planner with all your friends' addresses and phone numbers, as well as the wallet-size group photos you and your friends had taken at the portrait studio in the mall:

    A close-up of a teen age girl writing into her red day planner with a smiley face pen
    Mark Peterson / Getty Images

    7. Trying to get ~cool~ notebooks:

    Two notebooks one labeled "My Neon Note-Pad" and the other labeled "Gel-ink Paper"

    8. And pretty notebooks — which usually ended up being too pretty and you then never wanted to use it:

    Two notebooks featuring one of the two cherubs of featured in Raphael's Sistine "Madonna"

    9. Getting several of these bad boys from the vending machine at the mall or supermarket in order to decorate your locker, book covers, or folders:

    A holographic violet winky cat sticker

    10. Saving cutouts of your favorite celebs from magazines you collected over the summer so you that could re-create the hairstyles when it was time to go back to school:

    Getty Images

    11. And keeping magazine cutouts of step-by-step makeup tutorials, so you could re-create the looks when it was time to go back to school:

    A close-up of Jennifer Love Hewitt holding a Teen People with herself on the cover
    Steve Granitz / WireImage

    12. Also making sure you tried those makeup tutorials several times before going back to school, 'cause the magazines sometimes were a little vague and you would need to either slightly improvise or completely figure it out on your own:

    A photo of a woman holding a compact mirror while applying the eyeshadow
    Naki / Universal Images Group via Getty

    Today's kids have it so easy, they just watch a YouTube tutorial. Back then, you had to read each step and just hope that the magazine wasn't making one of the steps sound easier than it was.

    13. Looking through the Delia's back-to-school catalog as soon as it came in the mail so you knew what dupes to look for while shopping at the mall and also how to style them:

    14. Going to the drug store to buy Revlon's Street Wear makeup and nail polish line 'cause it was inexpensive and offered the best dupes of the pricey ~cool~ brands (*coughs* like Urban Decay *coughs*):

    A '90s Revlon Street Wear counter displace featuring lipsticks and nail polish

    15. Of course, while you were at the drug store, you also HAD to pick up one or two Bonne Bell Flip Glosses:

    A purple Black Raspberry Ripple-flavored Flip Gloss in its original package

    16. And one of these headbands — that were basically torture devices, but you knew you would need for P.E.:

    One black and one tortoise shell colored caravan spring headband

    17. Begging your parents to get you a beeper for the new school year (so "they could reach you"):

    A lime green transparent pager
    Hemera Technologies / Getty Images

    18. And begging for a new portable CD player ('cause it was all about having the latest one):

    A silver Sony CD Walkman
    amazon.com

    And LOL to the days of being on the school bus trying to hold your portable CD player just right 'cause you knew that anti-skip protection was a lie and one pothole or bump would make your CD skip.

    19. Going through all the magazines you had saved from over the summer in order to pick which celeb, teen heartthrob cutouts, and cool magazine ads you were going to decorate your binder and locker with:

    A hand pointing to JTT on the cover of 16 magazine
    Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

    20. Stocking up on Gelly Roll pens (that you knew better than to let anyone borrow)...

    A case of Gelly Roll pens with five Gelly pens beside it.

    21. ...and erasable pens (that never truly erased):

    A two Paper-Mate packs of erasable pens and one pack of BIC erasable pens

    22. And, of course, getting a cool pencil case to put them all in (even if the only thing that saw the case was the inside of your backpack):

    A tin pencil case with early '70s style flowers on it

    23. Making sure your face was first-day-back ready by using Sea Breeze or Stridex (it was all about drying your skin 🙃):

    walgreens.com, Chris Hattings/ youtube.com

    24. Having the all-too-important back-to-school clothing shopping trip to the mall with your parents and knowing there would be at least one argument about the price of something and the cut of something:

    A teen girl grabbing a pleather jacket while shopping with her mom at Bloomingdales
    James Leynse / Getty Images

    25. And going to the thrift stores with your friends to see if there were any cool finds that you could say were "vintage":

    A wide-angle shot of a brightly lit thrift store in the '90s
    Joe Pugliese / Getty Images

    26. Going to all the different kiosks at the mall to pick jewelry — which you thought was so unique and cool, but everyone went to them too:

    A bunch of different style of necklaces, beads, wood, next to beaded bracelets and silver bracelets

    27. And going to Claire's to get cute hair clips (as well as jewelry):

    Eight butterfly clips on: two pink, two yellow, two purple, and two hot pink

    28. Saving the paper bags from the ~cool~ stores you went back-to-school shopping at in order to make them into book covers:

    A arm holding three navy blue GAP paper bags
    Dimas Ardian / Getty Images

    29. Basically planning your first-day outfit around this shoe:

    A black platformed Steve Madden slide sandal

    30. Picking out what your new "day scent" signature scent should be and making sure it wasn't the same one as your friends:

    A photo of Gap's Dream perfume bottle and packaging

    31. Realizing that soon enough, you were going to hear the alarm buzzing on the Sony Dream Machine alarm clock:

    A photo of a white Sony Dream Machine radio alarm clock
    etsy.com

    Or the radio turning on, depending on your settings.

    32. And finally, setting up a new email address 'cause you were careless and forgot your password (since you never really checked your email):

    A screen grab of an AOL homepage in 1999

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