Girls in Podcasts: Dear Sugars

Looking for something to listen to on your morning commute? Want to learn about girls over your lunch? There are loads of amazing podcasts out there about and by girls. Join us as we share some of our favorites in this series.

I have never considered myself a fan of agony aunts. I’ve never read one in a newspaper, and I haven’t read one in a magazine for at least a decade.  Self-described as ‘radically empathic advice,’ Dear Sugars changed that. One of my favourite episodes, “Letters From Teenagers,” was recently revisited, and brings together what it means to be a teenage girl.

Hosted by the author of Wild, Cheryl Strayed, and author Steve Almond, Dear Sugars is based on their column of the same name on The Rumpus. The podcast answers letters from people struggling with any type of issue, no matter how difficult or complicated, much like an agony aunt column, but on a podcast it seems so much more than that. Cheryl and Steve are friendly, open, honest, and trustworthy. As authors, they are both impossibly articulate. Cheryl and Steve often invite other people to help them, creating a community of friends wanting to help each other. Cheryl embodies wisdom, eloquence, and poise, and makes the most difficult answers sound seamless.

On July 30 in 2015, Dear Sugars hosted the episode “Letters From Teenagers,” where they discussed letters sent in exclusively from teenagers, and specifically teenage girls. The episode covers letters from a teen struggling to make friends, a sophomore with burnout, and a 16 year old girl who recently lost her mother to cancer.

They are also joined in this episode by the incredible Tavi Gevinson, founder and editor of Rookie, a digital magazine for teenage girls. Tavi, in reference to the teen struggling to make friends, touched upon her own loneliness as a teenager and how that led to the creation of Rookie Magazine – to “publish writing, photography, and other forms of artwork by and for teenagers (and their cohorts of any age!).”

At the end of the “Letters From Teenagers” episode, Cheryl poignantly ends by saying “we talk about teenagers as if they are a different species, but this whole conversation reminded me of how connected we are. You guys really aren’t alone. Welcome to the human race, our teenage friends. We are with you in the struggle, we are with you in the sorrow, and we are with you in the beauty.”

Excitingly, Dear Sugars has recently been signed by the New York Times, with Cheryl Strayed writing a column in the Thursday Styles section for them to correspond with each episode. As executive producer for audio Lisa Tobin says, it started as a column: “The idea of turning it into a show came from that column, and now it’s coming full circle — it’s going to become a column again.”

-Chloe Turner
Volunteer & Instagram Manager
Girl Museum Inc.

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