Independence Survival Guide out now!
Illustration: Erin McPhee
Last weekend, I was on an independent media panel for the Toronto Word on the Street book and magazine festival. I sat alongside other editors — from Maisonneuve, Spacing and Urbanology magazines — and, with guidance by our panel moderator from THIS magazine (now 50 years strong!), we tried to unpack what it means to produce indie media, and the challenges and opportunities that come from this work.
Speaking on this panel while finalizing this issue was an interesting moment of reflection for me. The first question, “what is independent media,” and our immediate responses, reminded me that we are so often defined in opposition to the mainstream — of who we are not. In Shameless’ case, we’re not Teen Vogue, we’re not Cosmo, we’re not Seventeen. All of these things are true, but the real joy of working on an indie mag is getting to make affirmative and intentional choices about who we are.
For Shameless, this means practicing an inclusive feminism, rooted in social justice and anti-oppression; it means organizing our work in ways that are collaborative and supportive, and it allows us to remain accountable to you, our readership, over any funding body or advertiser.
When our youth advisory board first suggested the idea of an independence survival guide, I immediately thought about what it means to “go off on your own” or “make your own way” and the kind of support we all need when we do that. But Shameless has taught me that independence — from convention, status-quote, from harmful systems — doesn’t need to be quite so individualistic. My Shameless co-conspirators — staff, youth advisory board, and contributors — have taught me a form of independence that is collective, creative and incredibly liberating. For that, I continue to be grateful.
Our youth advisory board writes:
As progressive young people, the members of the youth advisory board know what it’s like to have to conform to the patriarchal, colonial, capitalist society we live in. These struggles often define us but they also force many of us to conform and be dependent on fulfilling social norms and expectations in order to succeed. The youth advisory board recognizes this and wanted to create a guide to help other young people be independent. We’re not necessarily talking about moving out and getting your own car. While we recognize that no person is an island — we also feel that resistance is an important step in promoting change. This issue explores some of the different ways you can be the best independent you, you can be, through liberation — liberation from negative and toxic relationships (p.12), wrongful ownership of our art (p.15), from harmful labels, from sweatshop made clothing and products (p.40).
We are grateful to our youth advisory board for working so closely with us to redefine what it means to be independent, together.