2004 Honoree

Atoosa Rubenstein

Editor- In- Chief, Seventeen

Written by Laura Laytham

The new Jennifer Garner film, 13 Going On 30, could easily be based on Atoosa Rubenstein’s life. As the founder of CosmoGirl and the new Editor in Chief of Seventeen Magazine, Rubenstein’s circumstances and attitude exude the same goofy giddiness of any teenager who just woke up to find herself running the world’s biggest teen magazine. For Atoosa Rubenstein, though, if this is all a movie fairytale, then she’s already on her third sequel.

It was that motivation that inspired her to start CosmoGirl. She imagined a magazine that was like Cosmopolitan but aimed at younger girls. She wanted to create something fun that could show girls that they aren’t as atypical as they think they are. When she finally got the nerve to propose the idea at Hearst she knew, “They can laugh me out of the office, but I gotta pitch it!”

Laugh her out they certainly did not. Hearst saw her inspiration and launched CosmoGirl, an immediate and smashing success that kick-started the teen magazine space from its slumber. TeenVogue, ELLEgirl, and other teen staples like TeenPeople and YM have had to revamp their whole image just to keep up. When Hearst acquired the ailing Seventeen last July, it only made sense that they’d tap Rubenstein to restore the magazine to its former glory.

From her newest throne, she doesn’t want to just entertain her teenage audience, but also to empower them and bring them awareness. It’s not just about the Helmut Lang anymore. “As fashion editor, you get the stuff, the trips to Milan, the clothes, all that. But now, that’s meaningless to me. It’s all about the girls.”

It’s clear that for Atoosa Rubenstein her next big idea is always just around the corner. She’s had her fashionable days in Milan, her wildly successful entrepreneurial days founding CosmoGirl. We can only wait to see what’s next for this teen turned dream!

One day at Barnard College, she found herself suffering through yet another tedious political science course when she started reading a magazine she found under her desk. It was at that moment that it finally hit her. She saw that “something under [her] desk was so appealing and something on [her] desk was so unappealing.” From there, she figured, “somebody’s gotta work at these magazines, why can’t it be me?” Her rise from intern to magazine princess grew from there.

Rubenstein’s first “pinch me” moment came a few years ago. As the fashion editor of Cosmopolitan, Rubenstein one day stood waiting for an elevator in Milan after a Gucci runway show wearing her favorite Helmut Lang and talking to Bonnie Fuller about Tom Ford. She thought to herself, in what she describes as an out of body experience, “Oh my gosh! Is this my life? How lucky am I? How did I get here?”

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