‘Toos Is Loose: I’m Leaving Seventeen, I’m Not Leaving You

Outgoing Seventeen editor Atoosa Rubenstein wasted no time this morning to explain her decision to leave via a long, decidedly sappy post on her MySpace page:

So, I have some news…

I’ve decided not to resign my contract. I will be leaving Seventeen at the end of the year. Let me tell you what that means for me — so I can get to what it means for us, because as you might know, our relationship is one of the most important in my life. Like family.

What it means for ME: I had to have a very serious conversation with myself. I had to do the thing I’ve told you to do many times — to find my truth and live it — even if it’s not the easy road to take.

This job? It was my dream job. From the moment I started working in the magazine industry (my sophomore year in college), it was like I stepped into my fantasies. So you can imagine what it was like when I was able to create my own magazine (CosmoGIRL!), when I was 26. And then to take over Seventeen a few years later? Heaven.

But that’s just it — what was heavenly about it wasn’t what I expected. See, when I was in junior high and high school, I really struggled. My family and I were immigrants and it was really hard to fit in, no matter how hard I tried. The truth is, I didn’t make my first friend until the 4th grade — so you can imagine how lonely I was until then. I’d gotten a late start on having friends, fun and the kind of life that the media fantasizes that kids have.

I guess because of that (and I’ve told you lots of stories about when I was growing up), the thing that made me so passionate about this industry at first was all the superficial parts of it. The clothes, the parties, all that stuff. After all, when I grew up, I didn’t have access to anything like it. Being a fashion editor traveling to cities like London and Milan (having fun all the way!) was such a far cry from the girl who would cut her arms and legs because I was so deeply sad.

Then I had a moment of clarity that would forever change my life. It was after a fashion show in Milan, Italy.

My former boss (I was a Senior Fashion Editor at Cosmopolitan) and I were standing on the Gucci runway, talking to Tom Ford after the show. Okay — truth is, SHE was talking to Tom and I was having an out-of-body experience. Was this really me?? In Milan?? With Tom Ford?? At that moment, all I could think of was that young girl who would cry herself to sleep every night thinking that it was her lot in life to be disappointed — to be underestimated — to have her dreams unfulfilled while all the other girls at school seemed to get anything they wanted. At that moment in Milan, all I wanted to do was to go back to that little girl and tell her everything would be okay. That she’d finally find her place. That she wouldn’t feel like such an outcast forever. If anything, far from it.

That’s the moment in my life that I started to think about you. It’s like I had no real desire to be a fashion editor anymore. Sure — I loved clothes (and continue to — Big Momma just got a credit card bill to prove it — ugh!). But I wanted to help young women believe in themselves — in a way that I didn’t when I was younger. Not so long after that moment in Milan, I created CosmoGIRL! And obviously, that’s when I first officially met you. I wanted to give you the strength and inspiration to stay true to who you are because one day it would have great value — I saw it, even if you yourself didn’t see it yet. CosmoGIRL! is when it all turned very real for me. We built this relationship and I knew I was at the right place.

I will never be able to thank my boss and mentor, Cathie Black (President of Hearst Magazines and a major pioneer in the world of business) enough for taking that risk on me. She let me start CosmoGIRL! when I was just 26 years old (!), supported me endlessly throughout my career and most importantly always stood by my decisions (even when they were unpopular with some) to protect and inform you.

Five years after we launched CosmoGIRL!, Hearst bought Seventeen and because of our business success at CG!, they moved me over here to fix this magazine. And we sure did. (We reversed a 5 year decline in sale with our very first issue and have continued to grow ever since while other magazines around us are struggling or going out of business). When I say “we” — I mean you too. You are why Seventeen has been successful.

But the one thing that also happened was that the more successful we got, the less I was able to do the one thing that meant the most to me — interacting personally with you. Like, remember the early CosmoGIRL! days? Remember when I was able to write you back when you would write to me?? You are why I’m here — but the nature of the business of magazines is that I’m constantly in meetings, I’m constantly on TV talking to your parents, I’m constantly needing to do lots important things — but all things that keep me from doing something else very important — talking one-on-one with you.

So that’s why I’m taking this chance. At the end of this year, I’ll be leaving Seventeen.

And that brings me to US: Because I’m not leaving YOU. I’m leaving Seventeen, so I can be in closer touch with you. My mission has always been this: To protect you and help you find, accept and explore your truths because your truth will unlock the door to your dreams. And you have always played the same role in MY life, too. After all, I’m following my truth here, practicing what I preach.

I will continue to update you on my plans on this page. Here’s what I know so far: I will write a book that I’m excited about. There are many stories I’ve never told you. That I’ve been afraid to tell you — but NEED to tell you. I’ll be working on that as soon as I finish my commitment to Seventeen. I’ll also want to talk to you in person — so I’ll hopefully be traveling the country doing that. Other than that? Let’s see what comes my way. Life is like a party — ya gotta show up and see what’s going on! Can’t just wonder from under the covers. 🙂

But let me just end this (extremely long — sorry!) entry by saying thank you. Serving you has been the most important honor of my life. You helped me find myself. You helped me find my passion. And even if I have not one more ounce of success in my life, I have no regrets because of all the gifts you’ve given to me.

I hope this isn’t good bye. It certainly isn’t for me. If anything — it’s hello. I’d like you to meet… BIG MOMMA! 🙂 XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO


  • ‘Toos Is Loose