Published Jul 01, 2004
"Mainstream teen magazines, their business is shame. They teach girls to be ashamed of their bodies, their sexualities and their minds. We thought, maybe the world needs a magazine that encourages girls to be shameless," explains Melinda Mattos, co-editor and co-publisher (along with ex-classmate Nicole Cohen) of Shameless magazine (www.shamelessmag.com). It's been a long time coming - since Sassy was bought out in '94, the void of teen girl-positive media has been sorely felt.
"I started thinking, 'Wouldn't it be cool if there was a teen magazine that actually treated readers with respect and focused on independent arts and culture, activism, and all of the other things that girls do when they're not working on their hair?'" Mattos and Cohen's feisty feminist baby started as a journalism school project at Ryerson University. With guidance from familiar-in-business publishers and working feminists (Broken Pencil's Hal Niedzviecki, Herizons' Penni Mitchell, Toronto Star columnist Michelle Landsberg) they've gained a surprising amount of support. But their most original and rewarding game plan has come from the magazine's audience.
"Nicole and I decided to put together a group of teenage girls to advise us on the magazine. We got them to tell us who they were and what their hobbies were, what women inspire them in their lives." And it worked. Their debut issue features fun, relevant and truly interesting topics. An introduction to globalisation is concise and accurate; their profiles of girls and women succeeding as stand-up comics, sound engineers and, of course, rock stars are inspiring and reality-based, and their DIY section makes silk-screening accessible. All on the advice and with the approval of actual readers. "We've really gotten to know these girls and fallen in love with them to an extent. I think they're the smartest, most creative girls I've met in a long time. They're awesome."