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Have you ever wondered why most women’s magazines are so superficial? Why do they only feature white, tall and skinny women in their fashion spreads? Why are all recommended products so expensive? Why do they only tell us to get inspired by models and actresses, instead of women that make a difference in their communities? Why do they assume all women are heterosexual? Why isn’t there space for insightful, thought-provoking journalism? Last, but definitely not least: why aren’t they talking about gender inequality?
Some countries do offer alternatives (like Bitch Magazine in the US, Causette in France or Opzij in the Netherlands), but Brazil did not have anything like it. At least not until 2015, when a group of 8 women (including me) got together to create a digital, non-profit women’s magazine that would stand out from the rest. With the slogan “for women from A to Z”, AzMina aims to distinguish itself from the other magazines in the market by:
- Having women of all ages, colors, shapes and sizes in their fashion spreads. Without Photoshop retouching!
- Featuring carefully researched, investigative articles
- Having an empowering perspective: we don’t tell women what to do. Instead, we inform them so they make their own life choices
- Being the first women’s magazine in Brazil to also have content for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women
- Talking about sex with a focus on women’s pleasure, not men’s
- Never, ever telling readers that they should go on a diet (especially without consulting a doctor first)
- All of this in a fun, laid back and inviting language. After all, it’s just a magazine!
But there was a problem: we had no capital. In order for AzMina to exist, we have conducted a massive crowdfunding campaign with a special focus on social media.
The aim was to raise R$50,000 (about 20,000€) over three months — and so we did, with the help of about 600 donors! Our campaign was mentioned on the Facebook and Twitter profiles of several influencers and celebrities, such as congresspeople Jean Wyllys and Erika Kokay, comedian Gregorio Duvivier, journalist Eliane Brum and even by UN Women.
AzMina was released in September 2015, with coverage by the biggest Brazilian newspapers, Globo and Folha de S. Paulo, as well as several other news outlets. Some of the features on the first edition were:
- An interview with a feminist collective in Iceland, the most equal country in the world according to World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index. What do women there still want?
- An interview with Sochua Mu, a Cambodian activist that prompted hundreds of women to run for office in her country
- A gallery with photos of Brazilian women prisoners after they were given a mirror and make-up for a day (both forbidden in jail for security reasons)
- The testimony of a Brazilian fashion designer who traveled to China and took undercover pictures of despicable working conditions in the factories her own company has worked with
The magazine’s success only shows that more women were longing for such a publication. Currently, AzMina has about 100,000 likes on its Facebook page.
At the end of 2015, the magazine’s team was included on think tank Thing Olga’s Annual List of Inspiring Women, as well as on a Buzzfeed list of 13 projects that want to change Brazilian journalism. We were even on the cover of a competitor: Elle Magazine made a special issue about fashion and feminism, and my fellow editor Helena was one of the sources.
Early 2016, AzMina embarked on yet another social media campaign. This time, to raise awareness about sexual harassment during carnival. Its guide about the difference between flirting and sexual harassment went viral, with thousands of shares — including by the federal government’s human rights’ Facebook page, which later invited the magazine’s team to take over their Twitter on International Women’s day.
Here is an interview I gave to Brazilian TV channel TVT about the campaign:
One year and a half after the magazine’s inception, I took some time off AzMina to focus on other professional projects in the Netherlands. I am very proud to have seen this beautiful idea come to life!