14 independent women's magazines that should be on your reading list

Illustration by Jane Bowyer, commissioned by Creative Boom for International Women's Day 2019

On some level, we all love the glossy women’s mags we grew up with, filled with tips on how to lose weight, dress glam on a budget, and get a better sex life.

But we also know, deep down, that a lot of this stuff is pretty damaging to women’s sense of confidence and the broader fight for gender equality.

But what’s the alternative? Well, the good news is there are many. In this post, we’ve teamed up with Coconut – the current account for freelancers and self-employed people – to bring you a great selection of independent women’s magazines that do things a little differently.

1. Gal-dem

Gal-dem is an online and annual print magazine founded by Liv Little in 2015, who, frustrated with the lack of diversity at Bristol University, wanted to reach out to women of colour like herself. Topics covered include arts, lifestyle, music, news and politics. Gal-dem also puts on events including comedy nights, politics panels, film festivals, bi-monthly gal-dem sugar club nights and museum takeovers.

2. The Gentlewoman

The Gentlewoman is a biannual magazine and website celebrating “modern women of style and purpose” and offers a fresh and intelligent perspective on fashion that’s focused on personal style – the way women actually look, think and dress in real life. Cover stars include Cindy Sherman, Allison Janney, Sophia Coppola, Zadie Smith, Kirsten Dunst and Saoirse Ronan.

3. Mary Review

Mary Review is a magazine of news and ideas written and produced entirely by women. Its first issue was published in the fall of 2016, with the goal of bringing greater parity to the journalistic conversation. Past article topics have included black women's composure, the intimate beauty of watching people handle food, and how the spouses of workers in the US with H-1B visas find themselves trapped at home.

Gal-dem magazine

Gal-dem magazine

4. NRTH LASS

Based out of Leeds and Manchester and reporting from five major cities, NRTH LASS is a print magazine with a passion for northern English charm. The focus is on successful women and they aim to empower and inspire women in business, start-ups, art, literature, parenthood, travel, and leisure.

5. Sukeban

Founded in Tokyo in 2016 by Yuki Haze and Erika Bowes, Sukeban Magazine is an online platform that encourages and supports aspiring creatives in the fashion industry. Their motivation was a lack of diversity (beyond tokenism) in the industry and the fact that aspiring photographers, stylists, models, artists and other creative individuals find it difficult to get exposure without a strong social media presence.

6. Lyra

LYRA is a quarterly print magazine offering a feminine perspective on society, politics and the arts. Articles include journalistic investigations, philosophical essays, erotic stories, poetry, photography, fiction, and reflective pieces. It aims to encourage thoughtful dialogues and critical perspectives while showcasing the voices of young artists and writers.

7. Womankind

Womankind is a print magazine and website published by Poet Press, which also publishes New Philosopher magazine. An ad-free women’s magazine focusing on self, identity and meaning in today’s society, Womankind features leading journalists, authors and artists and covers culture, creativity, philosophy, nature, and ways to live a more fulfilling life.

The Gentlewoman

The Gentlewoman

8. Girls Like Us

Girls Like Us is an independent print magazine for and by women that mixes politics with pleasure and aims to map collaborative routes towards a non-patriarchy. Commentary and opinions on arts, culture and activism are shared through personal stories, essays and visuals.

9. Ladybeard

Launched in 2012, Ladybeard magazine is a feminist publication which takes the form and format of a glossy print magazine but revolutionises the content. “Mainstream media has created a culture of self-hate,” they say. “It’s also pretty boring. We grew up being sold stories about purity, femininity and perfect happiness; now we want to tell new ones.”

10. Hotdog

Created by Megan Conery and Molly Taylor, Hotdog is a poetry magazine dedicated to the work of women and non-binary people. It refuses to accept either the generalisation that poetry is 'unapproachable' or the distinction between low and high brow culture, and blurs the space between creativity and consumption, asking readers to rethink how they view contemporary literature.

11. Riposte

Riposte is a high-quality, award-winning independent print magazine for women. Each issue includes interviews with “bold and fascinating women”, which cover both their success and failures candidly and honestly. Essays and features, meanwhile cover a broad range of issues including art, design, music, business, innovation, politics, food and travel.

Oh Comely

Oh Comely

12. One of my Kind

First published in 2013, OOMK Zine is a biannual publication about women, art and activism that focuses on imagination, creativity and spirituality. Each issue centres around a different creative theme; issue 6, for example, explores food as “art, enemy, friend and refuge”. This content is nicely integrated with more general content exploring topics of faith, activism and identity.

13. Oh Comely

Oh Comely is a bi-monthly independent magazine, made in London, that focuses on new writing, photography and illustration. There is a light and playful theme to their articles, on subjects such as ‘Pom poms and protest’, ‘The pleasures of hiding’ and ‘Self-love, surrealism and forever friendships’.

14. Hannah

Based in New York and LA, Hannah is a biannual magazine and website that celebrates black women. “Hannah is a place where we are not asked nor demanded to justify our existence, presence, or humanity,” they say. “It is, rather, a space where we can simply BE. A space where all are welcome to have a seat at the family dinner table, so long as you respect the house rules.” Topics covered include ethnomusicology, a fashion shoot in Lagos, and the ups and downs of travelling and motherhood.

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