The girl power zines to read this month

These titles offer an antidote to pigeonholing glossies and clickbait culture

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GIRLI Feature 4
Courtesy of Sister MagazinePhotography Hannah Smith

The latest instalment of a new zine series, each month we ask an influential member of the zine community for their picks of the best publications on the self-publishing scene, this month being the turn of Sister Magazine's editor in chief Beccy Hill

I created Sister when I was in my third year of university – it earned me the worst grade I ever received in my time there. I was completely crushed because I felt like my tutor was criticising me as a person, I’d poured so much of ‘me’ into it. I still remember the comments he wrote, one of which was “no girl would ever buy this magazine.” However, in 2012, the summer of my graduation, it got picked up by the Tate Modern bookshop due to another freelance piece I was working on. I wanted to create a cool, fresh publication for young women that I felt had been missing whilst I was growing up. Teen magazines really pigeonholed you, and didn’t look into topics with much depth – I wanted to create something which combined feminism and fashion, whilst speaking to our audience without a preaching tone. It’s crazy to see how the landscape has changed in such a short space of time.

The Swag Issue’ is the fourth edition of Sister (or fifth if you count my initial project.) I really feel like it’s becoming the publication I had initially envisioned it would be – rounding up serious female talent within a variety of arenas, and a solid topic ground. The themes always seem to come very naturally – swag is a word which is used ironically by my friends, but so much so that the irony has totally disappeared. It’s a tongue in cheek way of putting out who and what we think is amazing at the moment and whilst a lot of issues we cover are deadly serious, I never want to take myself too seriously.  

Four years ago I didn’t feel like there was anyone else out there doing this, but now you’re spoilt for choice. It’s a great time for feminism and for change, and it’s very exciting to be female and a part of the zine scene – it’s a real community which extends beyond London thanks to the internet. Whilst it’s positive that this movement has been recognised by the mainstream media, sometimes it worries me that feminism is seen as a trend. We’ve still got a long way to go in terms of the pay gap, the tampon tax and dated attitudes, but constantly talking about and promoting these issues will equate to change – I firmly believe it. Once you've finished our latest issue here's five more stellar suggestions of feminist publications paving the way for gender equality. 

PERIOD

Someone brought this back for me from a trip to Stockholm last year. It’s only in its first issue, but the brainchild of photographer Lena Modigh is crisp, clean, and super cool. Focussing on youthful imagery and illustrations, combined with an A4 newspaper format make for an overall really great experience. With their manifesto stating “this is all about being women and fucking cool, because all women are fucking cool, regardless of however they look and whoever they fuck” I’m excited to see what comes next.

GIRLS DON’T

Curated by photographer Joanna Kiely, this zine focuses on the many things that women are expected not to do, for example: “girls don't poop, have body hair, have a willy, cut their toenails…” Visually led with illustrations, photography and sculpture, it allows you to draw your own conclusions of the ridiculous society led expectations of western women. I’m also obsessed with the front cover typeface. Joanna closes the first issue with the words “now remember to be ladylike ladies, but also remember that ladylike means whatever you want to do.” With no plans to produce further issues, the first two are printed to order.

 ACHEY BREAKY HEART

We held a zine fair in December last year, and Sophie Holmes set herself the challenge to produce a zine for the event. She did it, and she did it well - completely selling out! Collating written pieces and images all based around the theme of heartbreak, it’s an honest and highly relatable read looking at a woman’s worth beyond her relationship status. A reprint of issue one is available now and she’s currently taking submissions for the next installment.

HOTDOG

Hotdog zine is all about femme poetry with great graphics. With only one issue under their belts, Molly and Megan are undoubtedly on to something with their mission to make poetry accessible, hence, the publication’s name – in an interview with Stack Magazines website Molly explains “[it] came up as joke, but then we ended up really liking it – it’s silly and phallic and everyday… It’s the opposite of calling it something like ‘Quill & Ink’,” She goes on to say that the idea was born out of frustration as “all the poetry worlds I’d gone into were completely alienating. I never felt good enough; clever enough. We wanted to make a space that was completely different from that.”

CHAMP

Run by twin sisters respectively based in Tokyo and London, I’ve been obsessed with Champ’s latest female-focused issue. Their tenth one to date, and named ‘The Champion Women Edition’ it’s pages are filled with just that. Profiling designers, writers and creatives alike, the mag also features a global museum guide, a focus on architectural vanguard and a list of their top 23 power women. A super inspiring read from an already established title, Champ is one of the best independents out there.

Sister Magazine – The Swag Issue, launches 18 February, 2016 at The Queen Adelaide in Hackney, more info here. The issue is also available to preorder now

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