by Jarrah Hodge
Since it launched in 2004, Toronto-based Shameless Magazine has been making an impact, as an “independent Canadian voice for smart, strong, sassy young women and trans youth”.
My sister got me the first issue of Shameless when I was in first-year University and I immediately wished I’d had something like it when I was in high school to counter all the toxic messages I was getting from the beauty, popularity, and celebrity focused mainstream teen magazines.
Now, almost eight years later Shameless is still going strong, publishing three times a year, keeping up their excellent website. Last year they started podcasting, and they even recently launched an iPad app through which you can download their most recent issue.
I interviewed Shameless Magazine’s Editorial Director Sheila Sampath about the years she’s spent with Shameless and how she sees young feminist activism in Canada today.
Jarrah: How did you get involved with Shameless?
I started as Art Director in 2006. My background is in grassroots, anti-oppression activism in the anti-violence movement, and then later, graphic design. At that time, I was working at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multi-cultural Women Against Rape as a feminist peer counselor and was co-editing a zine for and by women of colour called Big Boots. Shameless seemed like a great opportunity given my political and creative interests and I was lucky to be brought on board by co-founders Melinda and Nicole.
Two years ago, the magazine was facing some organizational issues: we were publishing less and finding it hard to cover our expenses. Staff had left, so a few of us decided to revive it and that’s when I stepped into my current role as Editorial Director. As a group, we re-wrote the mandate, which outlines the political focus of the magazine. It’s my job to make sure that our content is in-line with that mandate, and to help that living document grow over time.
Jarrah: Can you tell me a bit about how the mandate of Shameless has changed over the years?
The challenge with doing a feminist magazine or, a feminist-anything, is that people define feminism in all different ways. It’s been exciting to reflect back on old issues and to see how the feminist lens has shifted there. Now, Shameless aligns itself with an intersectional feminism; it may start with gender-based issues, but moves beyond to talk about race, colonization, capitalism, class, (dis) ability, status. It moves beyond acknowledging those kinds of intersections; it focuses on them. Read more