Thursday, 20 November 2014

The magazines I've been reading lately

It's not always easy to find decent print media if you're after more than the diet tips, high end fashion, and articles about botox that seem to proliferate in mainstream women's mags. I do quite like Oh Comely and Frankie but they can be a tad hipster at times, and I've always found their focus on young, skinny white women in their fashion spreads disappointing.

There are, however, alternatives out there if you look hard enough...


When B, E & I visited Laura in Nottingham last month, we popped into Ideas On Paper, which specialises in esoteric mags and journals from around the world. I picked up a copy of Things & Ink, which I hadn't heard of before. A quarterly magazine aimed specifically at women and covering tattoo culture, I loved the interiors shoot (I'm always up for a nosy at other people's houses) and the stunning images of - what else? - tattoos. An article on the current trend for Disney tattoos was thought-provoking and explicitly addressed it from a feminist perspective. At £6.95, Things & Ink isn't cheap, and obviously has a fairly niche audience, but I'll certainly pick up another issue should I see it in future.


I quite understand why someone who doesn't identify as lesbian, bi or queer might not think to pick up a copy of Diva, but I honestly think they're missing out. Diva provides the only truly radical, left wing, feminist voice in mainstream women's publishing. Recent issues have included articles on the Health At Every Size movement, the history of squatting, why more women are freezing their eggs, and a brilliant piece on privilege. If you're interested in critical feminist perspectives or queer politics, it's a must-read.


Bitch began as a Riot Grrrl fanzine back in 1996 and has grown over the years to encompass an entire non-profit organisation running out of Portland, Oregon. The content skews slightly towards more academic writing - it's accessible, yes, but it'll make you think. I especially loved a recent piece on how food trends are a form of gentrification, often taking foodstuffs that poorer minorities have as a staple, making them trendy and thus pushing prices beyond the means of the original buyers. Their book, music and film reviews are always a great starting point when I'm seeking out new media and their frequent subscriber offers make it affordable to have the quarterly issues sent directly to you.


Bust is of a similar generation to Bitch (it started in New York in 1993) and explicitly apes the look and content of a mainstream women's magazine, but from a feminist perspective. When a friend visited us recently, he flicked through it for a while before exclaiming, "Hey! This is a feminist mag not a trashy one!", which is both the strength and weakness of Bust. If, like me, you love traditional print media and want a decent alternative to Glamour or Cosmo, then Bust is great. However, it can sometimes feel just a tad too glossy - being a subscriber to Bitch at the same time offers me the balance of more in-depth analysis along with the pretty photoshoots, travel articles and celeb interviews. Bust is also particularly strong on craft, cooking and fashion (all with an alternative perspective, such as their regular food contributor being vegan chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz).

10 comments:

  1. I haven't heard of any of these before, but I like the sound of Think and Ink. If you haven't tried it before, Issuu.com is a free website where you can read literally billions* of e-zines for free, on topics ranging from photography to veganism to topiary. I don't work for them by the way; I just love free mags.
    xxx
    *Probably not literally; I haven't counted :p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh I hadn't heard of it, thanks for the tip.

      Delete
  2. I miss getting Bust, i do prefer it to Oh Comely, it's just hard to get without a subscription.. would love to give Bitch a read as well!

    It'd be good to find a list of decent free mags on Issuu too to read on my way to work.. might do some research xx

    ReplyDelete
  3. When Borders still existed they used to sell Bust, but since their demise it's really hard to get outside of a few places in London. Maybe the guy at Ideas On Paper could order it for you?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bitch and Bust both sound great - I'll keep an eye out for them. It does make me a bit sad that there are so few women's magazines around that don't subscribe to the mainstream.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think I'd enjoy 'Things & Ink', although they all sound interesting. I'm so disillusioned with women's magazines - the only magazines I tend to read are writing magazines and short story magazines so it would be good to find a women's magazine with a bit of substance. I love the sound of that piece in 'Bitch' about food - I recall a short online article a while back about how communities that had quinoa or maca as a staple of their diet can now no longer afford them thanks to the west touting them as 'superfoods.' I think that's just awful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Both Bitch and Bust can inevitably be a bit US-centric, but if you're after something with a bit of substance then Bitch is definitely it. I'll try and remember to let you know when they do one of their periodic subscription deals - it makes international subscription a lot more affordable.

      Delete
  6. I forgot all about Bitch and Bust! I think I need to remember them!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love all of these magazines (and have written for Things and Ink in the past)! Great post: great magazines, good alternatives to the usual drivel we are presented with!

    ReplyDelete