Interview with Glamdom Magazine Founder Ifueko Osarogiagbon

Glamdom Magazine is an online magazine founded by UCLA freshman and English major Ifueko Osarogiagbon from Germantown, Tennessee. I interviewed her about the origins of the magazine and its strong central message of focusing on diversity within the community of young women. Glamdom’s mission statement is as passionate, value-driven, and unapologetically outspoken as FeFe herself: “Glamdom is a feminist fashion magazine made by and for girls and femmes of color. It's an online magazine focused on amplifying the voices and reflecting the experiences of non-white girls of color through content commonly associated with fashion media from our own perspectives. It's a platform giving us the power to create our own visibility and representation within fashion media. We're changing the face of beauty and redefining what it means to be a woman by creating a space for us to see ourselves reflected and hear our voices heard,” (from the Glamdom website).

Glamdom Magazine's founder, FeFe Osarogiagbon

When did you first have the idea to create a magazine like Glamdom?

I think when I first thought of creating something like Glamdom, I was in my AP Literature class reading an article off of some fashion magazine’s website. I can’t remember what magazine it was from or even what the article was about, but I do distinctly remember being so incredibly amazed at how racially tone-deaf it was. It was like reading someone’s racist rant written under the guise of a feminist critique. I think I was even more amazed at the fact that the magazine had actually okayed the article and let it be published. Up to that point, I was kind of aware of how white fashion magazines were. I mean, most of the makeup and hair tutorials they’d feature were ones that I could never do, and the only social issues they’d ever addressed solely revolved around the way WW experience sexism. But that one article really made me realize that despite the fact that fashion magazines laud themselves as being for “all women,"  WOC were not a part of their definition of the word.

Have you ever worked on or created something like Glamdom before?

I wrote for a local feminist publication for a little bit of time from the end of my junior year to the end of my senior year. I also currently write for another social justice magazine. Glamdom is the first magazine that i’ve ever created, however. It’s also the first time I’ve worked on a magazine that focuses on WOC (women of color).

How long has Glamdom been running?

Not long at all. It’s still very much a new thing. The Instagram account has been up since the middle of March, but I only just launched the website in mid-October.

How many staff members currently work for Glamdom?

Currently, we only have around 10 girls on the team (four of them editors), so we’re definitely looking for more people to come contribute. The whole point of Glamdom is for women and femmes of color to take control of the way we’re represented by producing the content that mainstream fashion media refuses to give us.

What type of content do you have on the site, and what do you look for when you’re thinking of what to post?

The site is split into four sections--fashion, beauty, culture, and life--so our content is meant to revolve around those. So far we’ve had advice articles on topics ranging from self-care and self-love to thrift shopping; call-out posts on white supremacy, shade-excluding foundation lines, and non-black usage of the n-word; some poetry and some photography. Normally I look at what’s currently on everyone’s tongues at the moment or what’s in the news that I feel like would be really good to address. Or just a post that holds information and ideas that I feel like other people need to hear or see. My favorite posts have always been the ones where the writer says something that you can’t help but point and shout out “YES!” to because they’ve summed something up in words that you couldn’t figure out how to. Also the posts that cause you to see something in a different way.

What was the inspiration behind the magazine? Where did the name come from?

Despite the disconnect I’d often feel when reading fashion magazines, I still always loved the way they treated makeup and fashion and pop culture--my greatest interests--as vehicles for greater social critique and as vantage points for society. As a girl growing up in a Nigerian household, my interest in fashion and beauty was always treated as something superficial. Fashion magazines were like a little safe haven for me where my interests were validated--although my identity, not so much. I wanted Glamdom to be like that for other girls and femmes of color. I kept this in my mind as I was trying to come up with a name for the magazine. Fashion and makeup, to me, always had this glamorous allure and feeling around it that was also fun and exciting, so I figured the word “glam” fit that feeling. The “dom” part comes from “kingdom.” I thought it fit since the magazine was supposed to be a space to let our non-white girls and femmes and their identities reign.

What do you hope to achieve through Glamdom?

I started Glamdom with the purpose of creating a space within fashion media that forces people to pay attention to women and femmes of color. I want the magazine to become a platform that amplifies the voices and reflects the experiences of non-white girls of color. I want Glamdom to help us reclaim the power to create our own visibility and representation. I want the magazine to challenge and change the face of beauty and redefining what it means to be a woman by creating a space for us to see ourselves reflected and hear our voices heard. But more than anything, I wanted to create a space for non-white girls and femmes to be completely unapologetic about ourselves and what we say. In a lot of feminist spaces, I’ve had to stomach white women’s racism under the guise of “unity” as white feminism is a problem in a lot of feminist spaces.  I want Glamdom to be an intersectional space that allows conversations involving all identities (conversations on transphobia, homophobia, ableism, as well as racism and sexism) to exist unabashedly.

Where do you see Glamdom in one year, and where do you see it when you graduate?

Within a year, I’d love for the magazine to have a full on staff of contributing writers, artists, photographers, and makeup artists. Since there’s such a small number of us behind the magazine I’m juggling a lot of jobs around. It also means that our posting schedule is just once every two weeks to make it less stressful for contributors. I really want to move to a more frequent posting schedule with a more diverse array of content (more makeup tutorials and more news reports). I started Glamdom with the intent of creating a fashion magazine, so the site definitely needs more fashion and makeup content.  But in four years, I honestly can’t tell where I’ll be. A year ago I didn’t even know I’d have something like this running. I do know that besides expanding the magazine’s staff, I want to expand the magazine itself so a Youtube channel would be great as well as maybe a print magazine. Also, creating campaigns and collaborating with other innovators and activists would be great too. I just want to reach and impact more people in general.

What’s been a challenge in beginning the magazine, and what’s one thing you’ve learned so far?

One of my biggest challenges has been being patient with myself as well as with the magazine. I’ve had this grand idea of what I wanted the magazine to be, largely based off of what I saw other online fashion publications and online zines doing. So whenever I fall short of that ideal image or whenever I run into problems (I’ve had contributors ghost me once deadlines come up), I’d always feel so frustrated and discouraged. And it doesn’t help that I’m a major perfectionist. I’m constantly having to remind myself that I’m new to all of this and that I’m learning and growing, which is just as important as achieving an end goal. I have to keep reminding myself that being patient with myself and the site gives me the space to grow and develop. I’m also coming to learn that there’s no point in comparing my level 3 to someone else’s level 12. It’s an unrealistic and unfair comparison.

How does it feel being a freshman undertaking a project like this?

It can get a bit overwhelming at times figuring out how to balance school work and activities with running the magazine. I’m trying to concentrate on Creative Writing and double major in Communications, so the workload can get to be a bit much. But being at college with this kind of project makes me more motivated and passionate. I’m surrounded by so many people also working on their own projects and unapologetically doing their own things and working towards their own goals. I’ve met amazing WOC on campus who are so empowering and thought-provoking. I can’t get enough of it all.

How has the recent election and the subsequent protests influenced your magazine?

I think it’s made the magazine even more important. The election really exemplified the necessity of paying attention to our perspectives. With WOC voting overwhelmingly against Trump--Black women especially as 94% of us voted for Hillary--while 53% of White women supported Trump, it’s become apparent that women and femmes of color need to be better heard in discussions involving oppression, politics, and society in general. We sit at the cross sections of so many oppressive systems. Our identities allow us to recognize and pinpoint dangers others can’t seem to see.

What do you hope is the biggest takeaway your readers get from the magazine?

What I really want to get across to people is how important it is that WOC’s experiences, voices, and perspectives be shared and that our perspectives need to be taken into account whenever we look at anything from politics to pop culture. I hope Glamdom’s future successes makes fashion magazines realize that women and femmes are very much an important part of their audience. We’re very much a major part of fashion and beauty--so many trends are started by us and then later imitated by and credited to others. Ignoring us is very much a mistake. Writing from a predominately white perspective while passing it off as being “for all women” doesn’t cut it anymore. More than anything though, I want more WOC and femmes of color to recognize that we have a right to be reflected in the media we consume. Our identities are valid and significant.

To take a look at Glamdom, go to https://glamdom.wixsite.com/home and visit its Instagram page @glam.dom

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A lover of fountain pens, cookie dough, and cats, Macey Howell is always open to talking about books, movies, and Marvel Comics. Originally from Murfreesboro, TN, Macey moved up to Belmont to study Publishing and is currently in her freshman year. She is an awkward dancer, but will enthusiastically and unabashedly jam out to Come on Eileen and Take on Me.

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