Fat Quarter

29 Sep

As a fledgling operation created entirely over the internet between your editors’ home towns, we here at Bad Feminist have been quite overcome with emotion (or is that hunger? Can’t tell) by the supportive response we’ve had from other groovy women putting their articulate tuppenceworth out there in writing. It makes us feel happy, it gives us hope, it’s bloody exciting finding women’s publications that make you shout for the RIGHT reasons!

One such tuppence-wrangler is the gorgeous Katie Allen, captain of the good ship Fat Quarter. We asked (well, grovelled really) for the brutal truths of indie publishing, just so we know how choppy it could get up ahead!

Fat Quarter by Katie Allen

Once upon a time, there was a magazine called Just Seventeen. I am old enough to remember when it was a paper weekly, and also being outraged when it went monthly, and became a glossy (“J17”) like those filth-mongers More! and Bliss and –gulp- Cosmo.

I was an avid fan from the age of about 14 until the chilling moment when, picking it up one day at Freshers’ Week, I suddenly realized that I was “just” too old for it now. But my dedication all that time was because Just 17 offered something different to those other shiny pages obsessed with How to please Boys and what combat trousers to buy.

They had craft projects, and girls with dreads on their fashion pages, and quotes from Courtney Love. Someone on the staff was a secret feminist.

Alas, Just Seventeen, like all good things, came to an end. But I never forgot my passion for a pretty, fun magazine that also spoke to ME and to other girls who felt different.

At university I discovered the existence of hardcore porn (via my male housemates’ computers) and Virginia Woolf (via my degree), and hence became a feminist – producing a photocopied zine called Deflowered, and selling it at the local Ladyfest. It was such a brilliant, anarchic feeling, producing something that other people wanted to read-and pay for-rather than simply complaining.

You see, normal magazines don’t appeal to me. Well they do, I am tempted every time I walk past a magazine rack, but I also don’t care about Cheryl Cole and diets and handbags. I hate the stock photos they use of skinny bints. I hate the ads for plastic surgery after pages about “empowerment”. Although I do think Stylist magazine bucks the trend, and Company, so someone’s catching on.

So I tried again, and set up www.fat-quarter.co.uk in June 2009, with the first print issue coming out in February 2010 and the second issue just out this September. I should possibly take a moment to explain the name: a “fat quarter” is a piece of material used in patchworking- I thought it sounded crafty, and a bit old school, and offers a hint of femininity without going overboard. I have since come to regret the name slightly, especially after a woman asked me whether the magazine was about competitive eating. Admittedly, there is a lady chowing down on a massive piece of confectionery on the cover of the first issue, but I claim that that is an echo of Hole’s “I want to be the girl with the most cake”.

So far we’ve covered all sorts of things, from a “boylesque” dancer to climate campaigner Tamsin Omond, the Spice Girls to craft projects, dating to weddings to theatre, film and books. There’s lots more I want to do – more craft stuff, more about sex and sexuality, more about women from other countries.

Since starting FQ there have been loads of positives besides people actually BUYING IT, which still gives me a thrill every time. Encouraging emails. More people becoming “fans” on Facebook. And also, just meeting ace, interesting people who want to contribute or have something to say. It still feels like a “fuck you” to the ailing magazine industry and the doom-mongers out there.

Of course there is bad stuff too. It is sodding stressful trying to put out a magazine on your own, even with lovely contributors helping out (some of them until 2 in the morning the day before deadline). And I have a lingering fear of financial decrepitude.

But when I get a nice comment from someone, I realise that –just maybe- I’m on the right track. And FQ is worth it!


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