The Feminist Zine Celebrating Our Saggy Breasts & Double Chins (NSFW)

Camille Mariet for Polyester Zine
Polly Nor on the cover of Issue 8
#SaggyBoobsMatter! This is the rallying cry of Chidera Eggerue, a.k.a. The Slumflower, agony aunt, activist and author of paean to millennial solitude, What A Time To Be Alone. Chidera is, in many ways, the perfect interview subject for Polyester – the feminist fashion and culture zine launched by Ione Gamble in 2014, which is just about to publish its eighth issue.
Unashamedly proud of the endless diversity of femme and non-binary bodies, the zine embraces fat bodies, queer bodies, the beauty of stretch marks, body hair and all the other things usually hidden from fashion imagery. The zine’s aesthetic perspective is neatly summed up by its slogan, "Have Faith In Your Own Bad Taste" (which they've printed on long-sleeve T-shirts in dripping red text).
Advertisement
Chidera is just one of the wise and beautiful humans who pack the pages of Polyester Issue 8. Two separate covers celebrate Chicago dirty-rap star CupcakKe, and illustrator of demonic femininity Polly Nor, with full features inside. There are interviews with NY drag dance band Sateen, artist Penelope Gazin, and the team behind Instagram account Tabloid Art History. Alongside two radical and thought-provoking editorial shoots representing – and glamorising – the beauty of our saggy boobs and double chins.

I want people to love themselves in every shape and form. You need to love yourself. It’s who you are!

CupcakKe
Ahead of Polyester 8’s launch party this Thursday, Refinery29 sat down with editor-in-chief Ione Gamble to get the inside story on how this issue came into the world...
Ashley Armitage for Polyester Zine
CupcakKe for Polyester Zine
Chloe Sheppard for Polyester Zine
The Slumflower in Polyester Zine
Hi Ione! This issue isn’t themed, but your editor’s letter explains that 'autonomy' is a recurring topic. How did that become apparent?
At the beginning of production, I was feeling quite down on myself and everything in general. It felt impossible to create anything without lots of money or the backing from big brands and therefore the compromise on your morals. I was really bored and also exhausted at seeing feminism regurgitated back to people in its most simplistic, digestible form, and just feeling fed up really! But instead of cowering to all of those feelings I decided to slowly start reaching out to people who I wanted to feature in this issue, and it became more and more apparent they all had something in common. They were not only completely in control of their careers, but finding viable alternative methods of progression and defining success on their own terms.
Advertisement
CupcakKe and Sateen are both independent, in terms of their management and musical careers; The Slumflower is quite literally becoming the woman she longed to see in the world, growing up; and Polly Nor has essentially pioneered a new wave of illustration while tackling societal taboos at the same time. Everyone featured, as well as all those who contributed, made me understand that it is possible to work outside of the traditional systems that so often keep us at arm's length.
Chloe Sheppard for Polyester Zine
Chloe Sheppard for Polyester Zine
This issue has a lot of nudity in it. Was there a particular reason or intention to do that?
A lot of it was intentional in terms of the concept for the editorials. Polyester deals with ideas around body image often so it's a natural choice. But in all honesty (and as ridiculous as it sounds), it's difficult to shoot women in clothes if your models aren't sample size, and we're not going to bend our editorial agenda to suit designers that won't cater for the majority of body types. I think it works well — especially when there is often so much shame around our bodies, it's nice to try and put out some positive representation into the world. I never really realise how much nudity appears in the zine until I'm doing a run-through of the final copy, and it's always more than expected!

When you’re comfortable with yourself, it makes sense to want to try and help other people too.

Chidera Eggerue
In two separate editorials, you celebrate saggy boobs and double chins – why did you want to focus on those characteristics?
Advertisement
The saggy boobs editorial idea came from my friend Daniela Geraci, who just graduated from the fashion design MA at Central Saint Martins. Her final collection grappled with her own relationship with her boobs — how growing up she hated their unevenness, but how she's turned that into a source of power for her femininity, as well as other themes feeding into mental health and female hysteria. I loved the collection and wanted to shoot it, so put a call out on our Instagram for people with 'imperfect' chests who would want to be shot for the series. We had so many responses, it became really clear that it's such a source of insecurity for people — which demonstrates why images like these are so necessary in the first place.
Jender Anomie for Polyester zine
Jender Anomie for Polyester zine
Similarly with 'Double Trouble' (the shoot that focuses in on double chins), I wanted to not just normalise but also glamorise a facial feature that's otherwise invisible in media and visual culture in general. Even though there is increasing visibility for fat people in terms of campaign imagery and editorial, those who are getting the jobs are still very conventionally thin-faced. There's practically zero representation for those with double chins and I wanted to change that! I know so many people who use angles to hide their double chin, which is completely understandable when they're so demonised within our society, but I wanted to create something that hopefully begins to steer us away from that.

I want to display our feelings of vulnerability or anxiety; the things we all feel, but don’t talk about on Instagram.

Polly Nor
Do you have any hopes for how readers respond to them?
Polyester is unashamedly celebratory, so I hope that it makes readers feel proud of how they look and their bodies. I also hope it forces people to reevaluate the imagery they are consuming or creating — why aren't these type of people featured in every publication? Why are we still excluding so many people from visual culture? If we can do it with minimum budget and as a nonprofit publication, then there's really no excuse for the bigger publications not to.
Advertisement
Mila van der Linden for Polyester Zine
Mila van der Linden for Polyester Zine
What's the greatest piece of wisdom that came from making this issue?
Just to trust yourself – whether that's in terms of your career, your body, or anything really. All the women featured in this issue have such a strong sense of self, especially when it comes to their creative practice. Meeting them, shooting them, and interviewing them definitely really kept me on track and inspired me to keep going.
Tell us about the Issue 8 launch party.
I'm so excited for the launch party! We celebrate the release of every issue with a launch as it's such a good opportunity for our readers and contributors to all come together. This time around, we're hosting it at the Resistance Gallery, which is actually usually a female wrestling performance space (our friends, the band Dream Wife shot one of their videos there earlier this year). We have some amazing DJs lined up, and it’s the first chance to get a copy of the issue IRL. Everyone is welcome and all the details are on the event page.
Polyester Issue 8 is also available to pre-order on the Polyester website.
Pull quotes taken from Polyester Issue 8.
Advertisement

More from Fashion

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Fashion
A look at the subcultures around the world that colour what we wear — and why.
Watch Now
Travel
Explore the world's most vibrant cultural and culinary centres—in 60 seconds, of course.
Watch Now
Beauty
The craziest trends, most unique treatments, and strangest subcultures in the beauty world.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Millennial survivor-woman Lucie Fink dives headfirst into social experiments, 5 days at a time.