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Typical Girls
Photography Leah Rustomjee

This mag proves there’s no one way to be a woman

Typical Girls is the Viv Albertine-endorsed zine railing against what the mainstream prepackages as womanhood

In a world where we’re ridiculed for celebrating notions of femininity and similarly shut down for attempting to dismantle age-old gender roles, it’s difficult for this generation of women to find their place on a damned-if-you-do-or-don’t spectrum. But we’re making headway. We’re still shouting for girls to the front, and perpetually sidestepping the tired synonyms right wing rags slap on women in their juttering sidebars. Enter Typical Girls, the Sussex-based zine fighting for the true, diverse representation that female creatives deserve.

TG is two issues in and growing fast, aiming to transcend narratives that co-opt the marketable aspects of women for a mind-numbingly mass appeal, and dismiss what’s real. Their latest installment, the Naked issue, provides a radical programme of artists, musicians and photographers railing against the two-dimensional, cookie-cutter girl. There's Ronan McKenzie, the photographer clapping back at exploitation, sexualisation and the mainstream erasure of blackness with her honest, beautiful series “A Black Body”. Viv Albertine of The Slits also makes an appearance to pen the story that surrounds the track that shot the "new improved model", the "cruel and bewitching" stereotype to fame, the original “Typical Girl”. The zine also traces the relationship between tattoos and society's assumption of female promiscuity, how crippling body dysmorhpia can be and the freedom roller derby can offer women.

Here, Jamila Prowse and Chani Wisdom tell us how we can celebrate all aspects of womanhood, and challenge the mainstream discourse that surrounds the female archetype.


“TG allows for women to represent themselves, in a way that they choose. By creating a space where women can share their work, as well as tell their stories, we are allowing women to speak on their own behalf. Ultimately, we'd like to see more diversity in mainstream media. For media to celebrate women of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. We've been made increasingly aware of the damaging effects of the media, and now more and more people are acting to change things. The zine community is a unique space in that it is so inclusive. We want to challenge idea that there is one specific way to be a woman. We are not here to dictate to our readers what or who is beautiful.”


“I had a huge fascination with the glossy pages of fashion magazines when I was a teenager, and used to paste clippings all over my walls. At the same time I had this really complicated relationship with them; a confusion and frustration that only became more apparent later in life, that none of the faces in those magazines resembled my own. Above all we'd just like to see more zines. Every time we have a stall at a zine fair we leave with so many amazing publications, that push us to do more.”


“We asked May from Pasta Baking to write a piece for the issue because the articles ethos encapsulates everything we aim to at TG. It's about providing a platform for conversation about issues that are perhaps taboo where they shouldn't be such as the naked form and female masturbation. We hope that showing the female body in alternative ways, for example through gender transition and pregnancy, question the idea there is such thing as a 'Typical Girl'. Our main ambition is to install confidence by celebrating individuality.”


“One of the main influences behind TG are The Slits. Our name is taken in homage to them. For us, they represent women who marked out a place for themselves within punk music, while simultaneously resisting the expectations placed on them as women. Around the time that TG was first forming, I read Viv Albertine's autobiography. Her style of writing is so honest; no bullshit. It made me want to create something that had no pretence. It's so easy now, with the Internet, to construct identities for ourselves. There are all these layers, and I just wanted to be a part of something that was unapologetically itself. We were lucky enough to interview Viv for our second issue, and it was amazing to be able to ask her the questions that had gone through our heads when we were making the magazine. To be able to hear first hand from one of our great influences what had inspired her, what could be better than that?”


“Being mixed race and growing up in quite a white area, I always felt slightly disconnected from the people around me. My features meant that I stuck out and I was always incredibly self-conscious about that. The space around zines is a very unique one, in the fact that they celebrate difference. There is no chance of feeling like an outsider. It is where all of those people who didn't feel like they had a place, come together and find a home. Now with collectives like gal-dem, PoC have publications where there voices can be heard. I'm now involved in the kind of communities that would have really positively impacted me growing up. I'm glad that I can feel their effects now. The work the people around me do has given me a self-assurance in early adulthood that might not have been possible otherwise.”


“We simply believe that we should celebrate all the many things that make up women. All the unique characteristics, experiences and intricacies, which make someone so distinctly them.”

“Beyond the in-print element of the publication, TG is a living magazine. By hosting open discussions, talks, workshops and music events with the support of their contributors and readers TG hopes to create an interactive environment. Based around beginnings, Volume One explores the lives of artists from their many starts. Susie Vickery visually documents the issue of domestic violence in Mumbai, Eloise Dorr discusses the link between skateboarding and creativity, Marawa Wamp shares her stories as a travelling hula-hoop performer and world record holder, and creative writing pieces explore birth, loss, death and fresh starts.”


“The whole point behind TG is to indicate that there is no one way to be a woman, by letting people communicate their own individual ideas and experiences. A typical girl is satirical in a sense, because we want to try and reveal that there is no such thing as a 'typical' girl. While other women's magazines might commonly tell you how to be a girl (what to wear, how to act) we want to establish a space where women can tell us what they think.”


“First, we want to finish our degrees and hopefully to keep doing what we're doing. We’re constantly learning through TG and we want to just continue improving. Throughout the process we make mistakes, and we don't think that we'll ever get it right, but that's the wonderful thing about publishing; there is always space to grow and move forward. Having a space where we can develop as individuals, and have a physical record to keep and treasure, is unlike anything else. In the near future we will continue to expand the TG beyond the physical publication by continuing to host all female DJ nights and touring festivals an attempt to discover more about women in the music industry. Issue three will also be out this year which will keep us busy!”