Review: Make Muse Feminist Magazine

What is Make Muse?


Make Muse is a feminist mag written by and for young women. It touches on social issues, beauty, politics, activism and more. The magazine is just budding⁠–the issue I’ve got my hands on is the second to ever be released. Essays, interviews, poetry and more can be read in Make Muse.

My Impression

What I liked most about Make Muse is a result of the fact that it is cultivated by its target audience. The articles are about topics young women actually care about, rather than what we are stereotypically taught we are supposed to care about. There is no BS about how to impress men or lose weight. Instead, there are articles about the empowerment of changing one’s hair, period activism, and “Self Care Ideas for When the Face Masks Stop Working.” The magazine contains articles that will make young women feel seen. It has articles that will teach you. Page 96 offers, “Why You Should Care About Feminist Social Capital.” The magazine is like the women it is written for and written by: it is smart.

One could argue that the magazine’s main fault is being a bit too cutting edge, at the expense of appearing appearing bandwagon-esque. I’d say that’s mostly a surface level critique. It has a lot more depth and unique ideas to offer than one might assume. I wouldn’t write it off.

The physical copy is sturdy. It reminds me more of a coffee table book than a traditional magazine. This is pretty common for smaller indie mags, though. Since they put out fewer issues, each issue is made with care and made to last. This one reminds me a bit of a younger woman’s Darling magazine.

Who Should Read Make Muse?


I’d recommend Make Muse for high school and college age women (or other gender identities who are interested in feminism). In fact, I think it would be a great gift for younger girls as a swap for the Cosmo they might be reaching for. (Do girls still read Cosmo? You get the idea.) So, I’d recommend it for you if you’re interested in activism, culture, and women’s issues from a young woman’s perspective. I’d also recommend it as a gift for any young woman, especially early high school age, in your life who would benefit from exposure to the thoughtful ideas this magazine sparks. 

Buy the print copy of the magazine here, or a discounted digital version of the first issue here. Head over to my instagram, because I’m giving away one copy for free!

There are also some online articles you can read, including an interesting column on “femintamacy” on their main website if you don’t have the money for an issue right now.

What I Mean When I Say Ethical Fashion is a Privilege

Merriam-Webster defines “privilege” as being granted a “benefit, advantage, or favor.” I am an extremely privileged individual. My whiteness, my economic status, my education and my able, thin body all grant me a level of advantage in society.

Some people find ethical fashion bloggers annoying—and I don’t blame them. Ethical fashion is annoying for the same reason that vegetarianism is annoying. Both require a certain level of privilege, certain allowances or advantages, in order to easily participate.

When I write something about ethical fashion with the disclaimer that it is a privilege, I am saying that it is important to acknowledge that it is not accessible to everyone.

So, what makes ethical fashion privileged?

Ethical fashion is expensive. That’s if you’re buying new, sustainably sourced items, of course. By nature, it is expensive to create well-made items without cutting corners. It is expensive to source organic materials that don’t cause an unnecessary impact on the earth. And it is especially expensive to make sure all the workers, every step of the way, are getting paid what they’re worth. A basic t-shirt on a well-known sustainable company’s website could easily run for $100. Prices will eventually go down as as demand increases, but as impact investor Christine Lu acknowledged, in an article for Bloomberg, “It’s unaffordable for the average American to be a sustainable consumer right now.” 

Whether shopping new or second-hand, it is time-consuming. It can take a ridiculous amount of time to research a company or find the ethical alternative of whatever item one is searching for. Even with resources like Good On You popping up, not all brands are documented yet, or documented well. Not too long ago, it took me an hour to find any information on a brand as well known as ModCloth. The other, popular option is to rummage the racks at thrift stores and vintage stores. For most middle-class people, thrift shopping is a hobby. It is a leisurely activity in which one spends hours picking through multi-colored, tightly packed racks for the perfect item. It is a day-long, shop-hopping, marathon event. Not everyone has that time. In a sort of twisted way, an activity that was once stigmatized and done out of necessity has become a luxury. If someone with not-too-many dollars to spend on their wardrobe would rather pick out a new garment at Forever 21, where they don’t have to spend all day looking for something “cool,” that’s none of my business.

There are almost no plus size options for ethical fashion. That’s a generous assessment. Like, when hand sanitizer says it kills 99% of germs, just in case. I haven’t been able to find many, and at least not in the lower (ha!) price ranges of popular ethical brands. Everlane’s largest top size is a 16. Same with People Tree. Size 16 is considered the American average. Googling “top ethical brands” will provide no plus size options at all. Even shopping used clothes provides its challenges. Suz Ellis wrote an insightful blog post about fatphobia in vintage and thrift stores, which I recommend reading in its entirety instead of just reading my regurgitated version. She explains that vintage shops put no priority in curating plus sized pieces, thrift stores are often not organized by size at all, and that thinner girls often snatch up larger sizes for trendy oversized looks. All avenues of ethical fashion have made it virtually impossible for plus sized individuals to participate.

There are a lot of people, and I have been guilty of this too, who participate in privileged activism—zero waste living, minimalism, ethical/sustainable fashion, vegetarianism/veganism—by using guilt tactics to try promote their ideals. The general tone of these movements often communicates, “This is an obvious choice. This isn’t even that hard. Why aren’t you doing it yet?” Those of us who say that it is easy and obvious often fail to follow those statement with an important asterisk: “for me.”  

No one should have to feel guilty for what they aren’t able to do. You are not failing if you don’t have the time, money, or body type to join movements that are set up for those who do. Because society is structured for someone like me to navigate through life with less obstacles, I can worry more about my clothes. Sometimes taking care of ourselves needs that time and energy instead.

All of that being written, I still think ethical fashion is good.

There is nothing inherently wrong with utilizing privilege to participate in activism. In many ways, I feel that it is my responsibility to acknowledge my privilege and use it in every space that I can. If I can afford to shop sustainable brands, and have the time and resources to support them, I feel like it’s kind of my duty to do so. (Of course, using one’s privilege is not relegated only to the ethical fashion realm, but that’s what this blog is about.) What is wrong is passing judgement on others and trying to force my privileged forms of activism onto them.

Let’s make good use of what privileges we have, where we can (and stop assuming everyone else has the ability to do so in the same ways).

Let’s Talk about Faux Fur

Fur vs. faux fur. As an ethical consumer, faux is the obvious choice when one wants a little furry flair, right? In a 2017 article for the Los Angles Times, Janet Kinosian wrote that faux fur “offers you a chance to look festive … without the guilt.” However, the choice is a little more complex than Kinosian makes it out to be.

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At a glance, the option that doesn’t require the death of animal is the most ethical choice. Duh. But it turns out faux fur is just the lesser of two evils, so it is still, to some degree, evil. The synthetic material that fake fur is made out of is pretty much just plastic, meaning it’s likely to never biodegrade. (Real fur will eventually biodegrade even though it is heavily treated with chemicals to preserve it.) This is an issue in itself, but it is especially an issue when these faux fur coats are bought more for trend than for warmth. Meaning, when people buy them they aren’t planning on breaking them out every winter but, rather, to wear them once or twice for fun. They end up in a landfill in a jiffy.

This coat is made up of 34% polyester and 66% modacrylic. Both of these materials cause harm to ocean-dwellers as well as being toxic to us, as a 2015 study released in Scientific Reports revealed that these fibers were found in the bellies of fish being sold at markets in California. Growing research compiled by Patagonia shows that these micro-plastic fibers are released when we wash any clothing item made from synthetic material, but a coat like this, which sheds without any prompting, will release any especially large quantity of microplastic fibers.

I’m obviously not here to tell you that you need to avoid all faux fur because, as pictured, that would be a bit hypocritical. Instead, proceed with caution. I know my personal style well enough at this point to know that I am actually going to wear a crazy piece like this a ton, and not just chunk it after newness of it wears off. When purchasing, really think about if it’s just impulse or something you will wear a lot. Whatever you buy, buy second hand. It’s best not to contribute to companies creating cheap synthetic fur, as this just send them to signal to keep on creating more indestructible plastic coats. Just continue the life of an old one. I bought this one at Goodwill, and lots of other thrift stores have tons of wacky coats like it. When it comes to releasing fibers in the wash, Patagonia is one of the first companies to invent the “GUPPYFRIEND” Washing Bag–a bag to put synthetic clothing in that catches the little fibers. (This is useful for other clothing, as well.) I have yet to invest in one of these because, full disclosure, I don’t think coats need to be washed too often and plan on climbing that hill when I get to it.

Make whatever fashion statements you want, just make them informed.

The incredibly talented photographer who took these portraits is Kylie Atkinson, who you absolutely need to follow on Instagram this very minutes.

I Sew Because I Am an Artist (Not Because I Am a Woman)

Sometimes, I get a squirmy feeling in my chest when I tell people that I sew. It has less to do with me and more do with their reaction, which can go one of two ways: a very enthusiastic response about what a “classic” and “rare” woman I am, or a sort of sneer of confusion as to why I would want to partake of something considered part of women’s domestic past. These two responses land at opposite ends of the spectrum but are both rooted in the same misconception about what it means to be a sewist. Both see sewing as a submission to a woman’s traditional role in society, and both are wrong.

Assuming that I sew because I am trying to fulfill my role as “good woman” is not only insulting to women, but it is insulting to the craft. Often, popular understanding of what constitutes art is far too narrow. For most of my life when people asked me if I was “artsy” I felt compelled to tell them no, because I am not some type of painter or illustrator as people usually assume is attached to the title of artist.

Our culture leads us to believe creative activities historically associated with women, such as cooking and sewing, aren’t art. Yet, everything about them is artful. Art is not easily defined, and that is the way it should be. The only requirement I attach to the definition of art is creation. Sewing is creation. Looking at a rectangle of color and being able to envision it as something whole, to see exactly where I would place the darts and what accent colors would make it pop, to translate a piece of nothing into an expression of my being–I dare you to tell me it isn’t art.

Sometimes the people who reject sewing as art are well-meaning progressive women who just never want to be forced to squeeze into a traditional role. This fear of this forced assimilation is totally valid, but the way it is expressed is not helping anyone. It’s not feminist to reject and shame things that are traditionally feminine. Feminism is about the choice to express ourselves however we want. But it’s also about dissociating traditionally “feminine” things with negativity. That means supporting women and recognizing their artistic expression as valid, even if it is different from the way we choose to express ourselves. It’s an important act feminism to reclaim textile art as just that–art. Detach art from the gender binary. Give sewing the power and reverence it was neglected for far too long.

What other arts have we neglected because they are seen as feminine? Maybe we’ve never thought of our grandmas as artists but maybe they are the most artful members of our families.

I encourage you to give Faith Ringgold, Suzan Engler, and Toshiko MacAdam a search to see just how broad and innovative textile and fiber art can be.

Upcycled Embroidered Mom Jeans

I wanted to sew over winter break, but did not quite have the time to commit to a full-on project. So, I grabbed a handful of embroidery threads and dug through my closet to find some pieces that I had neglected for too long.

The fun part of this project was that I sat down with zero plan. I just put on a documentary and let myself start mindless cutting shapes. I am usually such a planner, but it always surprises me what I can create if I get out of my own way.

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Embroidery doesn’t have to be complicated to look cool. I stuck with the simple blanket stitch to finish off the edges and make every cutout colorful. It’ll take you minutes to learn if you google it.

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This pocket is my absolute favorite part. I love that the denim underneath is a bit darker so it really stands out. Also, thanks to my sister for taking this picture of my butt, along with all of the others. A true team player.

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I 100% recommend trying to embellish pieces of your wardrobe before tossing them. This project was a quick creative outlet that took an old pair of jeans from neutral to unique.

Make It Last: How to Mend Your Own Clothes

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Sewing is a practice of sustainability. You probably forgot sewing was an actual skill-set and not just the punchline of sexist jokes. However, producing, consuming, and throwing away fewer pieces of clothing all hinge on one habit– keeping your clothes for longer. When you dance a little too hard and a hole materializes in the armpit of your favorite top, don’t just throw it away. That’s your favorite top, darn it. A lot of people are held back by the assumption that they are not skilled enough to fix their clothing or that it is a skill that older, more feminine humans are supposed to learn. I do not care how old you are or what your gender identity is, you can and should learn how to mend your own clothing. Emphasis on can.

I may tell you some things that would make my mother’s professional-seamstress-heart cry, but it will get you through. I’m not going to make my own tutorials because there already so many great ones out there, so I will just link you to think ones that are most helpful.

Create a small kit.

This shouldn’t cost more than seven dollars, and should last a long time. Items on this list can be purchased from your favorite craft store, Walmart, or stolen from your grandmother’s house.

  • scissors
  • a package of needles (I always get the widest eyes to make threading easier.)
  • black and white thread (You’ll almost always sew from the inside, so they won’t be seen anyway.)
  • a cheap pin and cushion set
  • a good attitude (You got this!)

How to repair a hole in most garments.

This video from youtuber Koumori No Hime Cosplay is so clear and simple, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. This can go for any hole, not just one in a seem. The ladder stitch makes the thread almost invisible.

How to repair a hole in a sweater, specifically.

This video by Professor Pincushion is a bit similar to the first video that I linked, but it contains some important information pertaining specifically to sweaters. When a clothing item is knitted, a hole could cause the entire garment to unravel, so sewing up a hole takes just a bit of extra care.

How to sew on a button.

I love that giant button. Also, Nicki Callahan’s dolphin simile: 10/10. Anyway, everyone needs to know how to sew on a button. This video makes it super easy to see how it is done.

Ending thoughts: security over beauty. When you’re repairing a garment, you’re usually going to flip it inside out, so you’re not going to see the stitching anyway. Don’t worry about perfection, your clothes will appreciate the TLC nonetheless. If you’re getting frustrated, take a break.

If you’re financially secure enough, you can just pay a tailor to do it. They’ve got to put bread on the table too. It’s important to know how to fix something in a pinch, but it’s no less sustainable to pay a professional if you can afford it.

Creative Color Blocking

The best part of 2018 is that I got to live out the purple eyeshadow look of my  junior-high dreams.

I spent a weekend in Oklahoma with my friends a week or two ago, and forgot most of my accessories at home, per usual. I did remember my tooth brush for once, so it was a partial-win.

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I put on my favorite mustard colored turtleneck and orange scarf, but still felt like I need a bit more color. I have been layering my square scarves over my turtlenecks lately. I’m sure I’m not the first to do this, but I haven’t been seeing it around much, so I just gave it a go and liked the results.

Makeup can play a big role in a finished look, so I decided to go bold and add the finishing element to my color blocking look with eyeshadow.

I have been seeing matte single-color eyeshadow looks quite a bit on my instagram feed, but this was the first time I tried it out for myself. Honkytonkwomann is one of my favorites who has been rocking it for a while and inspired me to try it out. I raided my friend Ryan’s eyeshadow pallets, and found a bright purple that looked good with my skin tone and complemented the yellow and orange in my outfit. I think people often shy away from bright makeup, fearing that it will turn out looking like they’re stuck in the 1980s (which I don’t see as a problem, but whatever). However, I think this look is a lot more reminiscent of the playful 1960s’. Especially with some winged eyeliner.

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I know bright eyeshadow is usually considered a fashion-don’t. But style is personal, and does not have to fit into conventional standards. Do your thing. If something looks like fun, try it out. You may surprise yourself.

Handmade and Recyled Holiday Gift Guide

For the good of humanity, I am exposing what I plan to give all of my friends for Christmas. I don’t want you to give your friends another round of body sprays you got on sale at Bath and Body Works this year. You’re better than that. Instead, take a look at how I plan to up-cycle most of the gifts I am giving this holiday season. I hope you’ll see that recycling or hand-making gifts does not have to look cheap and obvious.

Wax Food Wraps from Recycled Fabric


This is the perfect gift to passive aggressively prompt your friends and family to be more environmentally conscious! Wax food wraps have been all over the internet this year and it turns out they can be made fairly easily and almost entirely out of recycled materials. You’ll need fabric (cotton, or anything thick with no stretch), beeswax, and parchment paper. Separate them into gift sets of three or four different sizes, and add a label that explains to wash them in cold water and use around 150 times.

Do not buy new fabric to make these. Instead, turn first to what you have laying around. That bag of clothes you’ve been meaning to take to Goodwill? Search it for pieces you can cut up into squares. If you can’t find anything, thrift. Thrift store usually have tons of fabric in bags on the back shelves but you could also buy clothing pieces to cut up for this too. Just throw them all in the wash before using. I actually already own tons of fabric scraps from past projects, so this is a great way to use up fabric that might otherwise go to waste. There is a way to make these in the oven and with a clothing iron. I’m linking tutorials to both because I definitely didn’t come up with either of these methods. I’m planning on experimenting with some other kinds of waxes for my vegan pals.

Treats to Go With

If you want to try making wax wraps, some kind of baked good would pair marvelously as a gift. Even if you are not much of a baker, there are tons of classic Christmas favorites like chocolate dipped pretzels, which are impossible to mess up. However, I feel like most people have at least one recipe that they really enjoy making, so I say go with what you’re best at doing. This adds a little more depth to the gift and gives you an opportunity to show the recipient how to use the wax wraps.

Books

Books are one of the greatest gifts of all time. From an objective perspective, of course. You can buy them second hand form your local book store, and will probably be able to find almost any book you looking for, or you can take time and dig through thrift store stacks. I think a book that was picked out with the recipient in mind is such a thoughtful gift. Add a note to the book about why you liked it or why you picked it out for your specific friend. Small personal touches make all of the difference when gifting.

Mugs

I am guilty of giving mugs as gift way, way, way too often. But who can’t use another quirky mug? I love finding super weird vintage mugs at second hand stores and antique stores. They are never too expensive and are always unique. I bought my sister one that said “sisters are forever” on it, which is wonderfully ominous. These can be filled with cookies and treats, or paired with some nice tea. If you are feeling more crafty, search Goodwill for some blank mugs and design a personalized mug. Using a sharpie, draw flowers, quotes, inside jokes, or obscure tv references only your friend would understand. They Sky is the limit. Then, put them in the oven for 20 minutes at around 350 degree, and then let them cool inside.

Gift Wrapping

I may be giving you the same advice over and over again, but a lot of people do not realize the variety of things you can thrift. On the back shelves in thrift stores there are giant bags full of ribbons and lace for just a couple of dollars. All of the notions pictured above were from thrift store grab bags. (And for you nitpicky readers, I know two of those are bias tape, but they work just as well as ribbon, promise.) I think tying up a gift in a bow, with no wrapping paper, is a super simple way to make your gift pretty with out a bunch of excess. Try using book pages to make gift labels or wrap small gifts. I also grabbed some pretty colored paint chips from the hardware store to make gift labels. I don’t think this counts as recycling but it is cute and free, which is also nice.

Bonus (for the brave):

Embroidery! It is not as hard as many people assume that it is. Shirts with little embroidered phrases or symbols are all the rage. There are tones of blank t-shirts in all colors and sizes at thrifts stores. Pick one up at Goodwill, a 50 cent package of embroidery thread (that stuff you used to make friendship bracelets in sixth grade) and needles, and just spend a little time trial-and-erroring and youtubing. This is another way to make a super personal, inexpensive, and recycled gift. This video is a super simple guide to a few different stitches.

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I suppose I should end this post with an apology to my friends and family for telling them (and all of the internet) what they are getting for Christmas. I’m not going to do that, though.

Put a Sweater Under It

My fall and winter motto: put a sweater under it. Specifically, a turtleneck. This way, I can wear all of my favorite summer dresses all winter long and no one (or temperature) can stop me.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it is the absolute best time in history to have ears because the earring trends are INSANE right now. I bought these earrings at Dig It in OKC and I can’t stop wearing them. They were super reasonably priced, too, at around $12. I’ve been trying to shop minimally for winter and fall, but these earrings were worth adding to my wardrobe.

I handmade this dress in early high school and it’s still going strong. A lot of the dresses I made back then are a little big on me now, but they actually work out perfectly for putting over sweaters. I loving mixing brighter colors with muted tones and pastels. 

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This outfit is full of pieces I’ve owned for years, yet I’m still finding new ways to style them. I totally recommend walking into your closet with a fresh mindset before you decide to go out and buy something new.