Starting at the beginning, where did the idea for Ladybeard come from?
Ladybeard was borne out of a frustration with the mainstream – we take underrepresented and misrepresented topics and open them up to fresh feminist perspectives.
Launching a magazine (especially a print magazine) in the past decade has been risky business. What drives and inspires you to keep creating?
Ladybeard is purely driven by passion – we make it in and around our full-time jobs. Sometimes it’s hard to see the sense, but it always feels worth it once the magazine is made. We are driven by the need for thoughtful, interrogating, inclusive reportage that stimulates people – while there is still a need for this, we are inspired to carry on with the magazine.
Ladybeard is a glossy magazine however you’re a far cry from the “How to keep your man” “how to be thin and nothing else” titles on newsstands. What thought process in particular led to you choosing the glossy format for Ladybeard?
We love the way a glossy feels, looks, its weight, its texture. The abstract qualities of a glossy – its luxuriant, covetable, personal qualities – very much inform the format of Ladybeard. We don’t, however, like the harmful and narrow messages it so often perpetuates.
What would you say was the main goal of Ladybeard?
To reimagine topics that so define us, but that have been reduced to simple, white, cis, exclusionary forms, like ‘sex’ and the ‘mind’ and in this way offer something exciting and interesting to readers. Something that better reflects their world and their experience of the world.
Can you talk us through your thought process when choosing your issue themes?
In some ways sex was obvious: it permeates all media, in particular the pages of women’s glossies, and dominates feminist discourse. So we started there, with something explicit, controversial, and present. In contrast, there was a distinct lack of discussion surrounding the ‘mind’ when we chose it for our second issue. The move from ‘sex’ to ‘mind’ was a move inward, to something more introspective and intangible.
In late 2016 you released your Mind Issue which (by our interpretation) challenged the notion of binary thinking. However people need to be willing to be enlightened before they can reflect on the issues raised in the magazine – is it hard tackling the “ignorance barrier” many erect when faced with new ways of thinking?
Perhaps it’s a case of preaching to the converted, but we have only received positive messages to the issue. We try, as far as possible to encompass a multitude of voices and experiences, rather than force a particular agenda on our readers. Yes, the magazine as a whole challenges the notion of binary thinking, but we don’t feel that to be the most challenging thing in the magazine – over the recent years, we’ve seen a huge cultural shift in our understanding of the self and gender. Binary thinking is more often rejected, and constantly held up to scrutiny.
With your issues selling out and events receiving rave reviews, it’s easy for an onlooker to say that Ladybeard is enjoying a lot of success. However, on a more personal level, how do you define a successful issue?
It’s difficult to say, we’ve only made two issues and they each took a year! From the outside it may appear that Ladybeard enjoys traditional standards of success, however we make no money from the issues, and for 6 months of the year work nights and weekends to pack it all in. It sounds clichéd but what really matters is the magazine – as long as we are honestly happy with everything that has gone in, then we feel it’s a success.
What can we expect to see from Ladybeard in the coming months?
Another snail-paced race to make a magazine – this time our theme is beauty.
*What scares you about the year ahead?
Ha! Aside from the disintegration of safe spaces for any marginalised community and the implementation of divisive, repressive policies on a global scale, we feel a little scared about doing the issue all over again, about making it work, about growing up.
…and in contrast, what are you excited for in 2017?
Making another issue, seeing where it takes us.
Could you pin-point a single book, movie, talk that impacted the way you saw the world?
A lot of people on the team would say Susie Orbach’s ‘Fat is a Feminist Issue’ – reading that while still a teenager was incredible formative.
What are your FAULTs?
We’re impatient and critical and never satisfied.
Words: Miles Holder
Read more about Ladybeard on www.ladybeardmagazine.co.uk