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Achey Breaky Heart zine, issue 3, "The Power Issue", cover
Issue 3, "The Power Issue", coverCourtesy Achey Breaky Heart zine

This zine could be the cure for your heartbreak

Achey Breaky Heart is the zine to help you forget about those fuckboys – get to know it here

Considering references to heartbreak date as far back as 1015 BC, you’d think we’d have found another cure for it than “time”. Who has time for time? Perhaps your cure is to fall into a hedonistic wormhole of booze, drugs or Dawson’s Creek. But perhaps it’s speaking or reading about it. Finding kinship in a fellow heartbroken human. Because, unless you’re made of stone, we’re all set to suffer some form of heartbreak in our lives.

Taking the talking about it route over the downing a bottle one, London-based, 27-year-old Sophie Holmes channelled her heartbreak into creating Achey Breaky Heart zine. Now just six months old, it is in its third instalment, “The Power Issue”, and currently fronted by the indomitable Grace Jones.

Achey Breaky Heart is a feminist heartbreak zine exploring the highs and lows of heartbreak from a feminist perspective. Which I hope means an honest and relatable zine dedicated to supporting women, celebrating single life and promoting self-love above all else,” Holmes tells us over email. “To be clear this does not mean that ABH is anti-relationships and anti-men however. Unless you’re a fuckboy. Everyone hates those.”

As this wave of DIY publishing proves that honesty is key when it comes to matters of the heart, below, Holmes tells us more.

Tell us about the process of creating the zine, and where the stories, poems and ideas come from?

Sophie Holmes: My friends at Sister Magazine were hosting a zine fair last December and I decided to set myself the challenge of creating my own zine. I’m not an artist. I didn’t study an art degree at university but I’ve always loved zines, I’ve always written creatively and I’ve always kept scrapbooks growing up. I love the uniqueness of a zine and the cut and paste nature of creating one.

One of the things I noticed last year when I was heartbroken was that although heartbreak is deeply personal to the individual – the various stages you go through during this experience are more or less universal. I wanted to reflect this in the first zine. I literally collated dozens of images, poems, and quotes and collaged them to reflect how I felt in each of the stages. The sadness, the anger, and the girl power/over it stage. I cut them out and stuck them into a scrapbook, scanned it in and had it printed. Voilá.

A lot of people nowadays make zines digitally but that doesn’t really fit with the aesthetic that I want for ABH. I want it to be personal, I want it to feel like a diary... the edges are wonky and on some of the pages you can see where I’ve used too much Prit stick and it’s got stuck at the wrong angle and ripped slightly. I like that. It wouldn’t work for this to be polished and perfect and glossy because heartbreak isn’t like that and life certainly isn’t.

“It wouldn’t work for this to be polished and perfect and glossy because heartbreak isn’t like that and life certainly isn’t” – Sophie Holmes

Tell us about your own experience with heartbreak.

Sophie Holmes: My experience of heartbreak was the completely unexpected, out of the blue, life changing kind of heartbreak. The kind of heartbreak where you feel like someone has sawn off half your limbs and gutted you like a fish. There were a lot of lies. Cheating. The whole thing in hindsight was such a cliché and yet still so incredibly painful.

Someone asked me recently if I could go back and swap Achey Breaky to be back with my ex in happier times – would I? 100 per cent no. This has changed me as a person and I’ve met so many amazing people just by creating this zine. What started as a personal project has grown into something much greater. I regularly get messages from people explaining how much they love the Instagram and the zine and how I’ve helped them overcome their own heartbreak. You literally can’t put money on stuff like that. It isn’t just about me anymore.

What helps you when you're going through heartbreak?

Sophie Holmes: Alcohol in the early stages… joke. My main advice is keep busy. Plan something for every night of the week. See people even when you don’t want to. 9/10 it makes you feel better. Get a new look. It’s very Sliding Doors but it works every time. Obviously take some fire selfies of the new look and get some of those social media likes rolling in. Does wonders for your self-esteem in the interim. DO NOT THROW ANY MEMENTOES AWAY JUST PUT THEM SOMEWHERE SAFE. You will want them later.

Do you feel we are honest enough about emotions and our mental health?

Sophie Holmes: It’s hard to be truly honest about emotions and mental health because it’s so intensely personal. I often think the more self-aware you are as a person and the more you can recognise emotional and mental changes within yourself, the less likely you are to speak out about it. You’re conscious of taking up people’s time or feel you might be perceived as dramatic or overly emotional.

I think this is particularly true with heartbreak because it’s ‘just a break up’ at the end of the day. It’s almost a rite of passage and happens to everyone. I was lucky that my friends were so patient and let me obsess out loud and cry and rant and get a lot of things out of my system that way. I was very aware a lot of people don’t have the same emotional support network or don’t react in the same way publicly as I might and that was one of the big driving forces behind creating the zine. Giving people an outlet to laugh and cry. Creating a supportive community as it were.

“I wanted to create an issue that explored how to take back the power and what made women feel powerful” – Sophie Holmes

How do you feel after completing each issue?

Sophie Holmes: One of the main concerns I had for this zine was if I would still be able to curate a great zine without being heartbroken. I actually wasn’t heartbroken when I decided to make the first issue but everything was still pretty raw and easy to tap into. I was worried as time went on that it wouldn’t feel genuine or I wouldn’t be able to relate as well as I could in the early days. That definitely isn’t the case. I don’t think those feelings of heartbreak ever really go away and it’ll always be something relatable and accessible.

I am so proud of every issue of ABH. It’s not just about creating a zine anymore. It’s almost a brand. I want women to fight back against the derogatory media we are bombarded with every day. I want us to speak out against single shaming. To know that it’s okay to be angry and sad and there is a way through heartbreak.

Why is this “The Power Issue?”

Sophie Holmes: I decided on power as the theme for the third issue because I feel power is intrinsically linked to relationships and ultimately heartbreak. Power for me is about self-esteem. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin. I feel like for a lot of people they struggle with a power balance in a relationship. I have seen girls, who are usually fiercely independent, go to spending six days a week with a boyfriend and unable to make decisions for themselves. Or girls who give the worst guys second chances because they’re scared of being single. It comes back to single shaming again. I wanted to create an issue that explored how to take back the power and what made women feel powerful.

Lastly, it might seem obvious but why is Grace Jones the best person to front the issue?

Sophie Holmes: I needed a bad-ass, zero-fucks given living legend who is unapologetically herself. Bingo.

Purchase a copy here