Imagine my excitement when news hit that Honey magazine would be resurrected for the second time, at least online. I was a fan of the glossy since I was a precocious teenage girl, ripping out pages of makeup looks to try, products to add to my bin of cosmetics, and women who inspired and entertained me with their anecdotes.
It made me think about the many exceptional fashion magazines that were created, targeted to an audience of young, black women, and, ultimately, taken off the market. One such magazine was Suede. As a teen, Suede brought my experiences, style, and culture to life with imagination and verve. Pouring through the pages of the glossy, I saw beautiful black skin, beauty, and style captured in the most innovative way. Before its time, Suede magazine featured President Barack Obama when he was just a charismatic senator in Illinois. I can only dream of what the magazine could have grown to be.
In the same way, I remember stopping short in the grocery store checkout line when I first laid eyes on Kelis on the cover of Vibe Vixen. The story, which explored her life as a newly married woman who loved to cook and experiment with fashion, was so riveting, I hung on to every world. The same magazine featured beauty buys, fashion finds, and even fitness tips earmarked for the young, educated, sassy set. It’s wonderful to see it back online, though the days of poring through the magazine as you hold it in your hands are indeed over.
While I love contemporary magazines like Juicy, Jones, and Pynk, it’s hard not to miss the glossies of yesteryear that catered to young women of color. It’s clear in the case of any magazine, and especially “black” ones, that survival comes down to money. Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications, famously said:
“There is a frustration in what we do…. In a sense, there is not a road, not a path, that we go down…. We can’t just sell the magazine. We have to sell the audience. We have to explain that our audience buys things, that they are valuable. It’s just plain dollars and sense.”