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Shameless magazine's newest issue

As their tag line reads, Shameless magazine is a Canadian indie publication "for girls who get it." We checked in with the mag's editor Megan Griffith-Greene to find out what "it" is, and a whole lot more.

PAGES BOOKS: What's your role at Shameless and how long have you held that position?

MEGAN GRIFFITH-GREENE: Editor-in-chief. I’ve been in the position for just over a year, when co-founders Nicole Cohen and Melinda Mattos passed me the torch.

PB: Give us a brief history of Shameless.

MGG: Shameless actually started out as a school project at the Ryerson School of Journalism. Nicole and Melinda spent the year developing the magazine, and at the end of the year, decided they didn’t want to let it go. Their idea was to develop an alternative teen magazine for young women, one that didn’t start and end at makeup tips. Four years later, Shameless has a strong community of devoted supporters who love the magazine for the same reason Nicole and Melinda didn’t want to leave it in the classroom: there is almost nothing out there for young, smart, sassy teenage women.

PB: What are the driving ideas behind Shameless, in terms of both content and design?

MGG: We say that Shameless is “for girls who get it” — and what we’ve found as editors is that that is a starting point for so many things. We are a feminist magazine for teenage girls. We talk about arts, politics, current events, social issues, craft, queer issues, race — the range of our interests is so broad. So much of the mainstream media that’s focused on teens is so narrow: it’s all shopping, beauty, style and dating; it’s dumbed down. Very little of it is as thoughtful, progressive or daring as the women we know and love. In terms of our design, it’s all the work of our immensely talented art director, Sheila Sampath. We tend to have a lot of illustration: I like the DIY sense of something that’s hand-drawn, and there are so many talented artists out there who’ve been very generous with us. On a more practical note, we print in black and white, so sometimes illustrations just read better.

Megan Griffith-Greene

PB: Who are your key staff/collaborators?

MGG: We have a core of very dedicated volunteers who slave away on evenings and weekends. Here we are:

  • Megan Griffith-Greene, Editor. I oversee the editorial direction of all things Shameless, from planning to poring over drafts and proofs. 
  • Stacey May Fowles, Publisher. Stacey keeps us going as a business, and does all the important things that editors know nothing about: marketing and promotions, arranging partnerships, making sure that when we’ve finished slaving over the magazine, people have actually heard of us. Every member of our team is totally invaluable, but Stacey is the one who keeps me sane.
  • Sheila Sampath, Art Director. She’s also a magician. And she drinks more Coca Cola than anyone I’ve ever met. When we hit production, it means a lot of late nights. And we get through it together, provided we never run out of Coca Cola. Sheila’s not only excellent at her job, she’s always enthusiastic, and we can spend 72 hours straight together without wanting to kill each other.
  • Kate Rae and Pike Krpan, are our fearless section editors. Kate handles features and Pike handles reviews. We plan each issue over a huge sprawling brunch at the start of every cycle: my policy is never to have a meeting without food. So at the start of each cycle, we bring the toaster into the living room and sit for four hours and map out the magazine.
  • Wesley Fok, Webmaster. He’s about the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. I feel like most of the e-mails he gets from the team are panicked, but he’s always calm and brilliant and makes it all work the way it should. And he made our website and blog both pretty and functional.
  • Cate Simpson, Web editor. We have an active, lively blog, and Cate does a great job of managing it. She takes care of our great blogging team, finds new bloggers and makes sure everything is running smoothly and typo-free.
  • Nicole Cohen and Melinda Mattos, Executive board members. Nicole and Melinda have both been supportive and generous, and continue to be involved as advisors (and columnists).

PB: Tell us about your contributors.

MGG: I feel that Shameless has a strong responsibility to be educational when we can, so we are mandated to work with young, emerging writers, and we try to publish some teen writers in every issue. We try to keep our writers’ voices diverse both geographically and culturally so we can be as representative as possible.

PB: Who is (or should be) reading Shameless?

Shameless spring 2008

MGG: It’s a bit funny: we’re a teen magazine with hundreds of devoted readers in their 20s and 30s. I think we may be alone in that category. There are a lot of women who either wish that the magazine had been around when they were a teen, or were devoted readers of Sassy and Shameless is still relevant for them. On the other end of the spectrum, we have some readers who are 12. I get e-mails all the time from parents wondering if their daughter is too young for Shameless, and there’s no real answer, the best thing to do is to let her decide for herself. I try to make everything accessible — there’s no required pre-reading in feminist theory required — there’s an entry point for all kinds of readers.

PB: What makes Shameless unique? What are readers going to find in Shameless that they won't find in any other magazine?

MGG: Well, in our last issue, we had a story about nipple hair, a bind-your-own-book craft project, a feature on student loans, a piece on Canada’s first university women’s cricket team and a story about seal-flipper pie. I think there are many reasons why we’re unique, but that lineup is one of them. Popular opinion holds that all teen girls are shallow, apathetic, consumeristic and immature. We beg to differ. And we’re fun.

PB: What was the boldest moment in the history of Shameless?

MGG: I think that Nicole and Melinda were unbelievably and shamelessly brave to launch this magazine in the first place. They did this right out of school, built it from nothing, without grants. Whenever the work seems overwhelming, that’s what I think about.

PB: What was the most frustrating or disappointing moment?

MGG: Shameless is a lot of things, including hard, hard work with unexpected delays and tired volunteers, but I have yet to find it frustrating or disappointing. We’re all in this because we believe in it really strongly, and there’s an idealism that keeps us going, even when it’s a tough slog.

PB: What's in store for the future for Shameless? Any big projects in the works?

MGG: Well, we’re hard at work on our first book — an anthology of essays by women reflecting on their experiences as teens. We also want to start a podcast, run a short-story contest, and have more fun launch parties — our readers are amazing.


MEGAN GRIFFITH-GREENE is the editor-in-chief of Shameless magazine, a feminist magazine for teen girls. Her experience spans activism, arts and journalism. Megan studied journalism at Ryerson, where she was editor of the Ryerson Review of Journalism. She is also a founding editor and designer of The New Pollution new music review, a web-based magazine and podcast about indie music. Megan is co-editing an anthology on women's experiences as teens that will be published by Tightrope Books next year. Her writing has appeared in THIS Magazine, Chatelaine and The Walrus. She lives in Toronto.


(Photos courtesy of Shameless.)